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

20 Years of IFPUG Excellence

Thank You from DCG

We're excited to extend our congratulations to the CFPS Fellows recognized today by the International Function Point Users Group (IFPUG) for 20 years of service within the software measurement community!

We thank the Fellows for their dedication to the community and to the software industry!

Read the announcement from IFPUG and see the full list of honorees here.

Written by Default at 09:31
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ISMA10 - Another Great Conference!

IFPUGIFPUG's recent ISMA10 conference, held in Charlotte, North Carolina was, by most any measure (even function points!), a success. The theme of the conference, "Creating Value from Measurement," was certainly realized during the day-long series of presentations delivered by the many professionals and experts in the field.

Prior to the presentations, two workshops were held to kick off the conference. A two-day SNAP training session introduced the principles of the Software Non-Functional Assessment Process (SNAP) and prepared the attendees for the upcoming SNAP certification exam. The second workshop, "Applying Function Points to Emerging Business Technologies," provided insights and examples into some of the more advanced function point sizing scenarios. (World-renowned function point guru David Herron made a guest appearance and lectured the class on how much better life can be when you have a steady diet of fun and function points. Haha!)

After the workshops, the conference focused on committee meetings, and the SNAP certification exam was made available to those daring individuals who attended the two-day SNAP workshop. 

The final day of the conference focused on the presentations, which provided an opportunity for attendees to access the eight presentations on the agenda, starting with a fascinating opening keynote, "Digital Forensic: The Evidence Left Behind," presented by local lawyer Clark Walton.

There were several talks that discussed how organizations were using function points and story points to better manage their Agile projects. Of course, measurement data collection, analysis and reporting were front-and-center in three of the presentations, as presenters shared their data and insights regarding productivity gains and improved estimating practices using functional measures.  And a tip of the hat goes to George Mitwasi from United Health, who shared his truly pioneering work in the area of advancing the use of SNAP with his presentation, "Integrating SNAP into an Established FP based Estimation and Measurements Program."

As always, it was a great event and we are already looking forward to returning next year.

For further information on future IFPUG events and conferences, visit

David Herron
Vice President, Software Performance Management

Written by David Herron at 05:00

Join DCG at ISMA 10!


We're excited to share that next week we'll be attending the 10th annual International Software Measurement & Analysis conference (ISMA), “Creating Value from Measurement."

As an industry leader in software analytics and software sizing, ISMA is a conference we look forward to attending every year. The conference, put on by the International Function Point Users Group (IFPUG), provides a forum to discuss the most recent advances in planning and sustaining measurement programs, from both practical and theoretical perspectives.

ISMA runs for four days - the conference portion of the event is held on the the 4th day. The first three days include workshops and a Certified SNAP Practitioner (CSP) exam.

We will host a workshop, "Applying Function Points to Emerging Business Technologies," on April 27-28th. This workshop will apply the latest IFPUG counting practices and rules in advanced situations and to a variety of technologies and environments, including Agile software development. This class will feature intensive instruction, lively conversation and hands-on practical application.

So there you have it! We'll have representatives at the conference all week. We look forward to learning more about how others are using function points and sharing our recent discoveries as well.

More information on the conference is available here. See you in Charlotte!

Written by Default at 05:00
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The #1 Metric is Function Points, Says ISACA

Interesting and great news came out last week via the International Function Point Users Group (IFPUG)!

Function points are the top metric in use today!

The ISACA (Information Systems Audit and Control Association) recently announced its results from a survey of 126 managers, developers, and metrics coordinators in the U.S. on metrics utilization and awareness.

Function points came on top as the #1 metric with 39% of the total, followed by Lines of Code with 21%.

Use Of Metrics

This information is available here.

Of course, we're obvious advocates of FPs, but it's exciting to see that function points are gaining traction in the industry and that more organizations are able to reap the benefits of their use!

If you're interested in function points, we offer a variety of training classes, consulting and solutions to assist you. Questions? Just ask!


Written by Default at 05:00
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"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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