Function Point Q&A

DCG Software Value is a long-time provider of software sizing services. We firmly believe that accurately sizing software is a critical aspect of managing and controlling successful software project delivery. Several sizing methodologies are available, but most often we employ the use of IFPUG function points (from the International Function Point Users Group), which measures functional requirements. This technique is known as Function Point Analysis.

Although this technique is widely and effectively used, we often get a number of questions about it. This blog post attempts to answer some of the most common questions we receive, but if you have others, please leave a comment below and we’ll address it!

What is Function Point Analysis?

Function Point Analysis is a technique for measuring the functionality that is meaningful to a user, independent of technology. Function Point Analysis is governed by IFPUG, which produces the Function Point Counting Practices Manual. This manual is used by all IFPUG-certified Function Point Analysts to conduct function point counts. IFPUG is an ISO standard for software measurement.

Function Point Analysis considers five major components of an application or project: External Inputs, External Outputs, External Inquiries, Internal Logical Files and External Interface Files. The analyst evaluates the complexity of each component and assigns an unadjusted function point value. The analyst then analyzes the application against 14 general system characteristics to further refine the sizing and determine a final adjusted function point count.

Function Point Analysis

When Can Function Point Analysis Be Used?

  • Function Point Analysis can be used at the beginning of projects to derive cost and duration estimates using well defined, industry-proven models and software.
  • Function Point Analysis can be used at the end of the project. Metrics such as productivity, defect density and time-to-market can be created using function point counts. These metrics allow measurement for internal improvement initiatives, contract compliance and comparison to industry benchmarks.                

Can Function Point Analysis Be Used When Evaluating Commercial Off the Shelf (COTS) Software?

Function Point Analysis can be used with COTS software projects in several important ways. These include the following:

  1. Functional requirements analysis: Like for any project, once the functional requirements have been defined, a function point count can be done to quantify the size of the application or project. This sizing can then be used for selection of the COTS package or for build-or-buy decisions.
  2. COTS function analysis: A function point count can be done on a prospective COTS package and used for comparison to functional requirements during the evaluation and selection process.
  3. Gap analysis: Comparison of the functionality provided by the COTS package to the requirements yields the gaps that must be filled with custom applications or additional COTS software.
  4. Project estimation: Using function point counts as input to industry-leading estimation applications and models provides accurate estimates for COTS configuration, customization, custom development and testing. This includes estimates for development of COTS extensions and external interfaces. 

Additional Resources:

Looking for more on function points? Check out these publications:

  1. An introduction to Function Point Analysis, including what it is and who would benefit from it. Download.
  2. DCG’s Function Point Analysis services. Download.

If you need more information on enhancement productivity improvement opportunities, or you have questions about function points, don’t hesitate to reach out! I’m always up for a discussion!

Anthony Manno, III
Vice President, Outsourced Services

Written by Tony Manno at 05:00

Alternate Route

Success in project planningToo often we find ourselves driving the same route, simply out of habit. The road most definitely gets us where we want to go; it is efficient, relatively traffic-free and possibly the best way of getting from Point A to Point B. But, after hitting a construction zone one too many times, we start to wonder if there is a better route to take.

Yes, this is still a blog about the software industry! I recently encountered a situation that made me remember the need for carefully planning the path to your destination. I am a Certified Function Point Specialist (CFPS). That means that I work with clients in to size their software in support of their metrics program. In this case I was working on a new application being added to the customer’s portfolio. The development organization made the assumption that the existing measurement system would produce the expected results, but without the due diligence to validate that assumption. Eventually, it was too late to take a detour.

As the adage states, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. It is important to take the time to plan your route when developing new software or incorporating a new software package into an existing portfolio. Here are some things to consider:

  • Is the SDLC appropriate for the project? Is Agile the right way to go or should we consider traditional waterfall – or something in between?
  • Does the design approach follow the architectural standards of the organization? Is that design appropriate for this project? If not, should we consider requesting modification?
  • Is the estimation approach going to yield accurate estimates in this case? What parameters must be modified to ensure accuracy?
  • Have the risks been identified and appropriately planned for?
  • Is the development team up to the challenge? Is education needed or should the team be augmented with additional skills and experience?
  • Is the test strategy adequate for the project needs?
  • How will success be measured? Do the existing measurements of success work for this project?

If you take the time to evaluate these aspects of the project, you’re more likely to take the right path in the first place. Avoid going in the wrong direction or having to take detours along the way – prepare!

Toni Ramos
Certified Function Point Specialist (CFPS)

Written by Toni Ramos at 05:00

Top Blog Posts of 2015

David Consulting Group BlogEvery year we like to share the most-read blog posts on our site for that period of time. It's a great way for our readers to catch up if they've missed a particular post, and it also highlights what other readers are finding interesting or compelling on our site.

So, without further adieu, here are the top 5 blog posts from 2015:

  1. Estimating Software Maintenance - A post from David Herron discussing an interesting article he read that presents a unique and proven approach for estimating maintenance and support activities using a new type of "sizing" model.
  2. Scaling Agile Testing Using the TMMi - This post from Tom Cagley invited readers to register for his webinar on the topic. Obviously the webinar itself is over, but you can read the post and then access the recording of the webinar here.
  3. Agile Transformation of the Organization - This post from Mike Harris discusses how to successfully implement enterprise Agile.
  4. The Value Visualization Framework - This post provides an overview of the Value Visualization Framework (VVF), developed by Mike Harris to address the fact that most software initiatives are driven by technology and time-to-completion rather than economic value.
  5. How To: Manage Vendor Performance - Another post from David Herron! This time David dives into third-party vendors, addressing the questions: How do we measure value delivered to the business? How do we equate cost to value? How can we ensure that we are getting a good price for the value being delivered?

As you can see, our readers are interested in a fairly wide variety of topics! Did one of your favorite posts not make the cut? Leave a comment letting us know!

We look forward to sharing more posts in 2016!

Written by Default at 05:00

Top Publications of 2015

Our goal here at DCG is to always provide value to our readers, our clients and those in the software industry. As such, we share a lot of content that addresses a variety of software-related topics and provides information that we hope will facilitate problem solving or just provoke a thought or two.

With so much content, it's easy to miss an article now and again. With that, we'd like to share our top publications of 2015, based on traffic as well as feedback we've received.

First, we'd be remiss not to share our template for contracting for Agile. It was not written or published in 2015, but its popularity and usefulness is undeniable!

And now, for the top 5 publications of 2015:

  1. An Introduction to the Scaled Agile Framework - This article is an overview of the framework and why (and when) you would want to use it in your organization.
  2. Five Problems that Impact Testing Effectiveness and Efficiency - This article outlines five typical causes of testing issues and how to combat them.
  3. The Average Size of a Project - We did some rough calculations to determine the average size of our software development projects. In thie article, we share our data!
  4. 6 Steps to An Estimation CoE - This article outlines the steps to establish a robust Estimation Center of Excellence.
  5. Finding the Right Service-Level Measure in a Changing Outsourcing Landscape - Establishing a contract for outsourcing is tough. This article discusses how to create service-level agreements that measure both cost and value.

Of course, those are just the top 5! There are plenty more to be found in our Publications Library - and there will be more to look forward to in 2016!

Written by Default at 05:00

Small Changes, Big Gains


At DCG, we admire Sir Dave Brailsford, who turned UK Cycling from enthusiastic also-rans to a world power. Obviously, having talented individuals helped, but adding together small percentage changes to kit, processes and physiology led to huge gains in performance.

Sir Dave continues this relentless focus on facts and measurement with Team Sky. Careful adjustments achieve the small gains that, added together, set the team on a different level from the competition. Every change has a purpose, whether it’s to optimise the bikes, improve training, or even to help cyclists sleep better by bringing their own pillows on tour.

DCG believes that software development can use the same approach to improving project delivery.   Like Sir Dave, we concentrate on measuring the facts and optimising processes to deliver significantly improved results.

We aim to enable clients to visualise the true value of software projects. Our Value Visualization Framework (VVF) is a quick and inclusive way of surfacing the business value of software change. Quantifying the business value of new features clarifies and accelerates prioritisation of the product backlog, leading to higher value delivery earlier than ever before.

Nasty crashes do sometimes happen in development, and our Project Triage Solution diagnoses and quantifies the changes needed to restore or salvage value.

Effective development processes, starting with metrics-based parametric estimates, aid good governance and enable organisations to deliver business change on time and on budget with fewer headaches.

Alan Cameron
Managing Director, DCG UK

Written by Default at 05:00

"It's frustrating that there are so many failed software projects when I know from personal experience that it's possible to do so much better - and we can help." 
- Mike Harris, DCG Owner

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