QSM is deeply saddened to share that our founder, Larry Putnam, Sr. passed away last week at the age of 91, leaving behind a 40 year legacy in the software estimation and measurement field.
Larry began his illustrious career in the military, graduating from West Point in 1952. He was commissioned in the Armor Branch and went on to serve 26 years on active duty. While in the service, he studied Nuclear Effects Engineering at the Naval Postgraduate School, where he obtained a Masters degree in Physics.
But it was to be the relatively new field of software development where Larry would ultimately make his mark. He was assigned to manage the Army's computer program budget at the Pentagon in the mid-1970s. After struggling to defend his yearly budget to the Department of Defense (DoD) budget review authority (OSD) because he couldn't justify the staffing levels for one of his systems, he made it his mission to understand software engineering staffing and effort. Starting with the Rayleigh equation as the ideal way to apply people to a design-intensive project, he began collecting Army data to see if it followed the Rayleigh pattern. Just from comparing the budget data to a group of about 15 systems, he was able to confirm it was a fit. Using the simple projections of the Rayleigh curves, he was able to get the 50 systems currently in development under financial control. (He speaks candidly of this experience in Roots Run Deep: The Journey to Software Application Estimation and Risk Management.)
We are pleased to anounce the release of SLIM-Suite 10.3
, the latest version of our flagship software management tool suite. The pandemic has put enormous pressure on business leaders to utilize resources wisely while juggling development teams in remote locations. With that in mind, our goal with the newest release was to provide several small, yet powerful improvements designed to save time and increase consistency at every step of the project and portfolio planning process.
Improvements to SLIM-Estimate's
Skills Breakout configuration make it easier to fine-tune skill categories and labor rates to support better resource demand planning at both the project and portfolio levels. Additionally, the tool's API now exposes the Sizing and PI (Productivity Index, QSM's proprietary productivity measure) calculators for users who wish to leverage these features directly from a spreadsheet or other external applications.
, QSM's database repository tool, has new functionality designed to make it easier to validate, understand, and analyze your portfolio of projects. Power editing and enhanced keyword management allow quick changes to multiple projects right from the master project list. Power editing makes it easy to add/update descriptive “tags” used to group projects into relevant categories for benchmarking and estimate calibration.
In addition to the new configuration capabilities, SLIM-Suite 10.3 features new agile enhancements, such as an updated SLIM-Estimate agile template. SLIM-Estimate and SLIM-Control now allow users to instantly toggle the display of agile increment lines between sprints, program increments, or both levels of detail.
Here at QSM, we realize COVID-19 has impacted your lives and businesses in many ways. One thing we don't want you to worry about is how to get the resources you need from us during this time of crisis. QSM is adhering to both CDC and state guidelines with all employees working remotely at this time. Whether it's customer support, online training, one-on-one remote coaching sessions, FAQs, white papers, or webinars, QSM is fully-equipped to support you. Below is a list of resources...
We are pleased to announce the release of the QSM Software Almanac: 2019 Edition
, an essential resource for anyone involved in the planning, management, or budgeting of software and systems projects and portfolios. This year's almanac focuses on agile development and the continued relevance and application of estimation and metrics.
The 2019 Almanac presents 18 articles from several perspectives, including both private and public. These articles show that there is indeed a compelling need to apply the basic principles of software estimation to projects, regardless of the methodology used, and that traditional metrics – even sizing metrics – can and should be applied to agile projects. Over the course of this book, the authors examine agile sizing approaches, effort and productivity, estimation best practices, as well as project and portfolio management best practices. All the articles offer research and insights into the foundational skills associated with parametric estimation and adapting those existing skills to account for changing conditions.
Much of the content in the 2019 QSM Software Almanac is derived from the QSM Metrics Database, drawing data from over 13,000 completed software projects from North and South America, Australia, Europe, Africa, and Asia, representing over 1.2 billion lines of code, 600+ development languages, and 120 million person hours of effort.
We invite you to download the full, complimentary version of the 2019 QSM Almanac below.
If you've been using SLIM-Collaborate's convenient, web-based project access
to keep your stakeholders engaged and informed, you know SLIM-Collaborate offers streamlined, role-based estimation and data collection services designed to complement our feature-rich desktop tools. SLIM-Collaborate's simplicity and ease of use make it easier to promote consistent standards and practices to users across the enterprise, while seamless data exchange with the SLIM desktop tools lets your most experienced users leverage the power of advanced features.
Recently we talked with SLIM-Collaborate users, and one request stood out: they wanted us to bring Contingency planning into SLIM-Collaborate. Release 3.1
of SLIM-Collaborate does just that, and even adds new risk buffering capabilities to the probability-based risk modelling available in SLIM-Estimate. Here's how it all works.
Step 1: Create Reusable Contingency Profiles (Back Office)
Part of SLIM-Collaborate's innovative approach lies in letting experienced users (the "Back Office") analyze the business, then design and publish reusable building blocks (templates, trends, filters, dashboards, profiles) that simplify and standardize estimation and data collection for less experienced users.
QSM has recently released an update to the feature-rich SLIM-Suite of tools
. For a detailed list of updates, download the SLIM-Suite 10.1
release notes. The 10.1 desktop release updates the look and feel of SLIM-Suite tools with easier-to-read fonts and a cleaner, simpler color palette inspired by modern Business Intelligence and Data Analysis applications. A new, high resolution theme also offers better support for high DPI and high resolution monitors.
Bird's Eye Staffing View
Many of the visual updates are subtle, so this post will cover the high impact features you're likely to notice on upgrading to SLIM-Suite 10.1. In SLIM-Estimate
, cross-hatched phase shading on time series charts has been replaced by lighter, transparent curve fills that grow progressively darker for successive phases. The view below shows staffing over time, not broken out by role, for a project using a traditional lifecycle.
Detailed Staffing View
Agile projects may prefer a more granular view of project staffing by role, with sprints delineated over the project timeline:
Task-Based Schedule View
QSM would like to thank our fantastic presenters and all that attended our virtual conference. More than just one-dimensional presentations, each session included interactive Q&As with active participation from our audience. It was great to hear such a wide variety of presentations covering project management success in many different areas, including the return on investment from estimating agile projects, the application of the SLIM tools to government outsourcing programs, and the benefits of leveraging flexible sizing techniques and QSM estimation methods. If you were unable to attend last week, you can find replays of all of the presentations below. We encourage you to reach out with any additional questions or feedback.
QSM turns 40 this September! To celebrate this milestone, we will be hosting a free, all-day virtual conference on September 19th for current clients and those looking to learn more about software estimation best practices. The conference will feature presentations from IBM, Microsoft, Progressive Insurance, Rockwell Automation, and KPMG, as well as new developments in QSM research and tools. Below you will find a list of speakers and presentations.
- "Our Evolution Around Estimation" - Lenny Fenster, Microsoft Services
- "Strengthening Estimation Governance in a Large-Scale Organization with SLIM-Collaborate" - Christophe Guillou and Angelo Moore, IBM Global Services
- "Using Project History to Produce Estimates" - Daniel Horvath, Progressive Insurance
- "Big Rock Estimation with SLIM Estimate" - Aaron Jeutter, Rockwell Automation
- "Five Core Metrics to Reduce Outsourced Software Project Failure" - Joseph Madden, KPMG
- "Understanding the Physics of Software Development" - Larry Putnam, Jr., QSM
- "The Evolution of SLIM-Suite Tools" - Kate Armel and Laura Zuber, QSM
You can find the speaker's bios and abstracts here. Click here to register.
QSM is pleased to announce the release of SLIM-Collaborate 3.0
, the web-based, software-as-a-service version of our trusted software estimation, tracking and benchmarking suite. With more advanced workflow capabilities, the updated version of SLIM-Collaborate enables more efficient communication between stakeholders throughout the estimation process. Additionally, the demand resource capabilities added in SLIM-Collaborate 3.0 make it easier for users to identify staffing needs and allocate resources to a software project.
Highlights of the new capabilities in SLIM-Collaborate 3.0 include:
QSM recently launched a new online user forum program specifically for our clients. Hosted monthly, these user forums allow current users of our SLIM-Suite
to ask questions and share tips on how they are currently using the tools. The theme of our most recent forum was "More than One Way to Skin an Estimate," which reviewed SLIM-Estimate
solution methods and different ways to approach estimating challenges that users might have in their particular project environment. Moderated by Lead Support Representative and Trainer Laura Zuber
, Laura started the meeting by revisiting the software production equation, which shows the relationship between size, effort, time, and productivity. By rearranging the equation different ways, the user can solve for what they don't know. This is the basis of our new redesigned solution wizards: Balanced Risk, ROM Estimate, Fixed Resources, Bid Evaluation/Playback, Time-Boxed, and Re-Estimate an In-Flight Project. After Laura gave a live demonstration of these wizards, we received great feedback from users that they found them more intuitive and helpful resources to get the answers they need.
After the demo, clients were able to ask questions and share helpful tips and tricks that they have discovered in the tools. One user particularly liked analyzing scope creep using the Size Growth Analysis feature, while another recommended using the trend mix feature when estimating a complex project. Laura also took feedback and product feature requests. This is the kind of close feedback we want from our customers to get them the best value possible from our tools.
This user forum was a great success and we look forward to hosting these sessions regularly in the future. If you are SLIM-Suite user and would like to participate, please contact us.