National Board of Patents and Registration of Finland (PRH) is an experienced organization to outsource software and systems development. The PRH administers information of Finnish companies, products, patents and trademarks. The national membership of European Union since 1995 has brought also international projects with new stakeholders and requirements along. The organization has experienced great project success, but also some failures in the past.
In the process of looking new ways to develop software for their specific needs, PRH contracted with a new, innovative partner Alfame Systems Oy. The purpose of these projects was to build up two applications, using agile management and development methods (e.g. SCRUM) in 2013 – 2014. Feeling of success in these efforts was so strong that the PRH decided to make a triangle benchmarking survey on these projects, to find out if the feeling was right or wrong. The motivation was to verify that projects’ results come up to the positive impression of cost efficiency.
The triangle benchmarking service conducted by 4SUM Partners showed that indeed both project deliveries were exceptionally efficient and fast, compared to normal productivity of public sector both in Finland and internationally. Functional sizes of the software delivered in these two projects were typical, close to the average FP size in the benchmark dataset, but both the speed of delivery (FP/month) and the unit price (€/FP) were far better than the benchmark. The project management team first believed the high performance was due to agile approach alone, but that was not the whole truth. Several other projects in the benchmarking repositories had applied almost the same set of methods and tools, without reaching the same level of performance.
A closer exploration of the projects and the system documents provided revealed that more than just the agile methods, the key success factor was the product owner’s active leading, and capability to elaborate and represent functional and quality requirements. In this case the developers found it easy to build the expected functionality while in the beginning of iterations, use cases were described on an effective level of accuracy and also the descriptions of business processes and conceptual entities were available for making the big picture.
It is encouraging to notice that it is possible to reach this kind of fine results within our industry. Success is even probable, and should be expected when the client and software vendor have the right capabilities and skills, and they both use those for mutual benefit.
‘Function point counting’, i.e. the process of measuring functional size of software, has claimed to be difficult and time consuming. Several experiments, including the ones organized by FiSMA and introduced below, have proven that the claim is not true, if the measurer knows his method, has fair tools and well-documented information available. Regrettably often system documentation (Product Requirements Document) is fuzzy and incomplete so that finding the functionality there is almost impossible, or at least extremely laborious. In the cases below we had organized the experiment so that the documentation was fairly well done and made it easy to find all the software functions required for counting. This was the way to recognize the true speed of size measurement process, without any disturbance from external sources, like exploring through poor documentation or explaining the details of measurement method to software developers and users.
23 Finnish software experts were invited to FiSMA office in Espoo in November 2015. The purpose of the meeting was to try, how fast they can measure functional size of software, if the circumstances are as good as they can. They were given the information of five systems or pieces of software in terms of numbers of different kind of functional components. For comparison, a similar type of experiment was arranged also 18 months earlier for a larger group of members of the FiSMA Scope Manager Forum. In that case they had measured software size using a professional tool, Experience® Service. The old “world record” from that case was measuring five applications with average speed of 2.7 minutes per software. The average measurement error of 60 measurers was only 1 % compared to the correct result. There they also completed effort estimation in a few extra minutes, still with astonishing success rate. This experiment has documented and published in a paper of MetriKon conference.
In the new ‘world record trial’ our experts concentrated only in software size measurement, using the freeware FiSMA function point calculator instead of professional Experience® Service. They measured the same applications in half a minute per application. Though the tool is simplified, the measurement errors didn’t exceed six percentages. Counting function points is really fast, if you have the information available, system architecture and amount of functional components of the system. In a well-managed software project all this information should be available with ease.
(Timo Käkölä and Pekka Forselius, ICIS 2015)
Validating the Design Theory for Managing Project Scope during Software Sourcing and Delivery
Most software project estimation and measurement (PEM) processes have been designed for providers. Customers need to leverage PEM to better direct software sourcing. A design theory for software project-scoping has been developed that supports the PEM processes of both customers and providers. This paper probes the validity of the theory from providers’ and customers’ viewpoints through three longitudinal case studies. A software provider used a preliminary version of the theory in dozens of software development projects annually, systematically (1) achieving higher customer satisfaction through better estimation accuracy and (2) improving productivity. Two government organizations used the theory to speed up their software sourcing and reduce their sourcing costs to a half without giving up any functional or quality requirements. Similar results have not been obtained before. Future research is needed to generalize the findings.
Next International CSM training in Helsinki
4SUM Partners is hosting a 5 day NorthernSCOPE training event in October 2016. The event will start on Monday 24th and will last till Friday, the 28th. In this training the participants will get all necessary skills a Certified Scope Manager needs, and a certification exam will be held on Friday.
Price: 3950 Eur (+ VAT if applicable)
More information in CSM training brochure .
Next CSM Training (Espoo, Finland)
The event will be hosted by our CSM training partner TIVIA, The Finnish Information Processing Association.
The dates for summer 2016 training program are:
September 21 – 22
October 11 – 12
More information about the training and instructions for registration at TIVIA website.
4SUM Partners offers a variety of hands-on, interactive workshops, designed to maximize knowledge transfer of the core scope management competencies.
As part of the Certified Scope Manager training, we provide e.g. following courses:
- Introduction to ICT Project Management based on the Project Management Institute’s Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) – 3 days
- Requirements Specification and Elicitation – 1 day
- Practical Project Estimation based on the International Software Benchmarking Standards Group (ISBSG) – 1 day
- Functional Size Measurement (FSM) – 1 day
- FiSMA 1.1 method – 1 day
- Experience® Pro for Project Managers – 1 day
- Software Acquisition – 1 day
Each of the workshops above can be customized for corporate in-house delivery or as a public course offering. Send an email for further details and pricing options (info(at)4sumpartners.com).
4SUM Partners conducts on-site, customised consulting for client companies who want to maintain or gain a competitive advantage by investing in the right technology solutions at the right time based on metrics based project management.
4SUM Partners principles are available to conduct corporate keynote/conference presentations. We have extensive experience delivering keynote presentations for small, medium and large groups throughout the world. Send us email (info(at)4sumpartners.com) to request a formal presentation.
The 4SUM Partners database contains high quality Experience® data gathered from the International Software Benchmarking Standards Group (ISBSG), and completed client projects. The data have been validated by over 15 universities (details available on request) and represent actual project completions.
We envision future where professional Certified Scope Managers are de facto -standard resources for all important software and systems development programs world-wide supported by a network of northernSCOPE™ Certified Scope Managers and consulting and training partner companies who ...
4SUM Partners Ltd. is a private company established through an MBO from Software Technology Transfer Finland Ltd. in 2007. Our main office is in located in Espoo, Finland with a subsidiary office in St. Petersburg, Florida, USA. The place of recidence is Helsinki, Finland.
The core business of 4SUM Partners is consulting, training, and benchmarking, supplemented with products and services based on industry best practices, international standards, northernSCOPE™ management concept, Experience® Pro software, and ...
To contribute to the success of ICT acquirers and suppliers world-wide with mission-critical development programs, supplemented with industry best-practices in measurement, requirements elicitation, scope management and knowledge sharing.
We know that scope management solves 6 of the top 8 problems in ICT (information and communications technologies) projects today, and our business is dedicated to providing products and services to make every program and project succeed - through concrete and realistic scope management.
CrossTalk, The Journal of Defense Software Engingeering:
(Carol Dekkers, Quality Plus Technologies, and Pekka Forselius)
The information and communications technology (ICT) world is "addicted" to dysfunctional behaviour and the problem is spreading globally. The sad truth is that the parties in the ICT relationship (the customer and the supplier) are largely codependent on a pattern of dysfunction characterized by ineffective communication, fixed price contracts with changing requirements, and eroding trust. This article focuses specifically on the northernSCOPE™ 12-step process for ICT program recovery.