Experience® Company Service is a service for analyzing IT project data, benchmarking IT project performance, and improving IT processes. Any organization having one or more Experience® Service users collecting project data can extend their use of Experience® database with this additional, company specific service. Every project collected and released by the company users will be added into the company specific Experience® dataset. The more active the data collection activity, the more opportunities and knowhow for effective process improvement actions your organization will achieve. Every Experience® Service user in your company will be available to use the company specific project performance information to make their estimates better and better, getting more accurate along with your growing company database.
How to get Experience® Company Service started? You already have one or more Experience® Service users in your company, but you have heard that concentrating only on individual projects, case by case, does not guarantee a long term success for the organization. You want to get more out of the system, but don’t know exactly how. You are lucky, because we have made it very easy and fast for you. There are just four small steps to success:
- You have to make a business decision to get your organization committed to learn from experiences.
- Secondly, you need to find a process owner, a person who will coordinate Experience® Service use, and especially the data collection activities, within your organization. The process owner will also be the key contact person from your company to the service provider, i.e. the 4SUM Partners Ltd.
- As the third step, he or she shall fill in a dedicated order form for Experience® Company Service, giving all the necessary company details, and the list of users to be connected to the company database.
- Fourth step is to pay the service fee for next 12 months, and as soon as the service provider has received the payment, the users will be connected to the company and the service will be started.
Using your own data when estimating IT project effort and cost, has proved to be the best choice. Then you know exactly how the software size was measured, how the software and the project were classified, and how the project effort data was recorded. The main researchers of the Experience® data, Katrina Maxwell and Pekka Forselius, reported in their article in IEEE Software (JAN/FEB 2000) that the Company variable (company that developed project) accounted for the greatest productivity variance (45%). That highlights the need for companies to establish their own software-metrics databases, in addition to benchmarking their data against that of other companies. The next most significant classification variable was the customer company’s business sector, which accounted for 36% of the variance. The best Experience® user companies have reached excellent estimating accuracy, with high project performance and process maturity, and consequently exceptional customer satisfaction. More about this can be found in an article of P. Forselius and T. Käkölä (2013).
Data quality of a benchmarking service is more important than people usually think. As Katrina Maxwell says in another article: “Whether you are benchmarking an organization, or simply a project, it all boils down to one thing – data. Do you have the necessary data in your company? Is the data valid and comparable? Can you get access to data from other organizations?” Maxwell asks you to think for a moment about how you collect data within your own company, and continues with several other, more specific questions: “How do you ensure that everyone understands the definitions? How do you ensure that you are really collecting the same things you were 3 years ago? Has your definition of effort evolved over time? Have you always counted support staff effort? Have you always kept track of management time? Even assuming that you have a high quality data collection process, which you use to estimate cost and compare the productivity of projects within your company, if you want to benchmark against other companies the critical question is: is your data comparable?” The Experience® Service and Experience® Company Service together offer you a standard benchmarking platform with stable data collection form and tool supported collection procedure, where most of the questions above are answered already, and most of the potential issues raised can be avoided.
“You cannot benchmark software development productivity if you have not collected size and effort data for your software projects”, claims Katrina Maxwell and explains the details: “Productivity is typically defined as output divided by the effort required to produce that output. Although not perfect, we traditionally use software size as a measure of output for software development productivity (size/effort), for example 0.2 function points/hour. Not to be confused with the project delivery rate which is also sometimes referred to as productivity but is actually the reciprocal of productivity (effort/size) i.e. 5 hours/function point. Remember to verify the units to make sure you are comparing the same thing!”
Finally, although many companies would like to benchmark projects, few contribute data to multi-company databases. Data is needed on a regular basis to keep these services up-to-date. While large companies with well-established metrics programs, high project turnover and data analysis competency may be content to benchmark projects internally, smaller companies do not have this option. These companies must look to benchmarking services for access to a large number of recent, comparable projects.
Thousands of projects from hundreds of companies are represented in the databases of the Experience® Service. Both the International Software Benchmarking Standards Group (ISBSG) and the Experience® user community have collected project data for several years already. The data has been organized in four separate major datasets: 1. ISBSG Development & Enhancement, 2. Experience®, 3. COSMIC, and 4. Maintenance & Support. The combined data demographics will give you an idea about the benchmarking potential with Experience® tools and services. The numbers of observations in the table below are examples, and the figures were provided in early 2013, when the total number of projects was 5436.
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