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Home Blogs Kate Armel's blog30 Years of Innovation
30 Years of Innovation
May 13th, 2009 by Kate Armel
Progress, far from consisting in change, depends on retentiveness. When change is absolute ...no direction is set for possible improvement... when experience is not retained, as among savages, infancy is perpetual. Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.
- George Santayana, The Life of Reason
The French have a saying: "Plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose".
That time tested axiom aptly summarizes QSM's 30 years of experience in the software industry. In the three decades since a senior Army Colonel first explored the relationship between software size, schedule, effort and defects, Larry Putnam’s original work has been refined, retested and ultimately reinforced by the dizzying pace of modern software development. Tools and methods du jour continue to replace their predecessors in quick succession but our research shows a reassuring constancy in the fundamentals of software development.
In retrospect, it is not surprising that Larry's work stood the test of time. His approach - practical, results oriented software measurement - was dictated by a feeling familiar to beleaguered developers: pain. When he arrived at the Army Computer Systems Command in the mid-1970s, software cost estimation relied on a simplistic productivity measure: lines of code per person month of effort. Dividing this ratio by the estimated size of the contemplated software product yielded total effort, which could then be divided by planned effort resource gave a schedule estimate that could be tweaked if needed.
Losing $10 million dollars in budget negotiations provided the "pain" needed to learn from experience. Larry began investigating the non-linear relationships between time, effort, size and defects. He started with what he had - a small, homogeneous data set of projects with similar complexity and tooling - and set out to identify the fundamental relationships involved in software development. Over the years, his original work has been continually reassessed against current industry data.
Over the next 30 years, QSM was consistently at the forefront of the brave new world of software process improvement:
On QSM's 30th anniversary in the software business, we pause to reflect upon the value of experience and continuous, practical software measurement. Three decades of observing software development only reinforce the value of that French adage: "The more things change, the more they remain the same." QSM's new blog, "Practical Software Measurement", is our chance to share that perspective and compare experiences and insights with SLIM users and other interested software development professionals.
If the journey has taught us anything, it’s that this is a conversation well worth having.
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