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Estimating Software Maintenance

DavidI recently read an interesting and informative article that presents a unique and proven approach for estimating maintenance and support activities using a new type of "sizing" model. The authors, Anjali Mogre and Penelope Estrada Nava, share their experience based on the work they have done at Atos worldwide.

The article opens with a positioning statement identifying issues with estimating software maintenance and support activities. Simply put, there is no reliable standard for sizing and estimating the effort associated with maintenance and support activities. Examples of software maintenance are described as correcting faults, software migrations, design improvements, adapting to different technical environments, etc.

Noted in the article are existing standards and practices, such as ISO/IEC standard 15939, IFPUG Function Point Analysis, lines of code measures and benchmark data from the International Software Benchmarking Standards Group (ISBSG). While valuable in their own right, the author points out the shortcomings of each in being able to properly size and forecast the size and complexity of a maintenance effort.

The proposed solution is based on an internally developed size measure and the ITIL definition of a service request (problem ticket). The size measure is called a "Work Point," and it is defined as a function of the type and complexity of a ticket (as defined by ITIL).

However, the best parts of the article are the details that follow. An in-depth review of the practices used in this method are presented with detailed examples and explanations. The practical application of this approach allows one to imagine and consider how these techniques could be applied to one's own needs to improve one's ability to manage their maintenance work load.

At the conclusion of the article we learn that not only is this an effective technique for sizing and estimating maintenance activities, but it has also been used to baseline productivity, measure performance improvements and set productivity targets.

If you are struggling with your maintenance and support work stream (and who isn’t), then this is a must read.

Download the article here.

David Herron
VP Software Performance Management

Written by David Herron at 05:00
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