How to Sell Function Points To Your Manager

DavidAs one of the premier consulting companies offering function point sizing services, the consultants at David Consulting Group are all too familiar with the variety of challenges of “selling” function points to an organization. A common scenario involves a client or prospect who is reasonably well informed about function points, has a defined need, but who has yet to obtain management buy-in and funding.  So, the challenge becomes figuring out how to sell function points to the management team – or in your case, to your manager.

Don’t worry, I’m here to help! Here are my five tips for helping you to establish the value proposition of using function points.

Step 1. Know What You Are Selling  

Assuming that you are familiar with the function point method and are comfortable/confident with discussing the topic, your first thought may be to prepare a presentation on function points as an initial step in your quest to sell your manager on the idea. That would be ill advised.  Function Point Analysis is not an easy sell.

I advise you to present a case for sizing your software as opposed to a discussion on function point counting your software. Trying to understand the function point method takes time and distracts from the conversation you really want to be having. But sizing (which is what function points is all about) is a term or a word that everyone can readily understand and relate to. Simply stating that size is the key to successfully managing software deliverables will most likely ring true with your manager, allowing you to carry on with making your case for sizing (via function points).

Step 2. Know Why Sizing is Important  

Size is important in so many ways. You need to be able to convey these reasons to your manager, so that he too understands the value that sizing offers. Sizing is important because:

  • It offers a basis for comparison among various software deliverables.
  • It is a key input parameter for estimating.
  • It is a normalizing factor for productivity and quality measures.
  • It is a critical measure of software process effectiveness.
  • It offers the ability to compare your software to industry benchmarks.
  • It allows for the proper setting of end user expectations regarding the anticipated size of the software deliverable.

This step is where you begin to lay the groundwork for introducing sizing into the organization. For each of the activities noted above (and many others), size plays a key role. Without a proper sizing technique, you cannot effectively measure performance or accurately estimate a project delivery schedule.

Step 3. Provide Proper Context  

Using the information noted above, or from some similar perspective, discuss sizing in the context of an issue that is important to your manager and to the organization. Whether it is improved estimating, benchmarking performance or managing vendor deliverables, make your case for sizing in the context of what your manager considers to be important. Talk about the challenges and solutions that will resonate with your management team. The conversation does not necessarily need to center around sizing techniques per se. If there is an important initiative that can benefit from the effective deployment of a sizing measure, then that is where you should lead the conversation.

Step 4. Know Your Audience 

You are selling the idea of sizing to someone who most likely has a different agenda than you do. You need to make sure that you are presenting to your manager a potential solution to what he considers to be his challenges, not yours. This may take several conversations as you listen to what your management team considers to be its challenges, goals and objectives. The most common hurdle will be one of limited resources, including budgeted dollars. This may necessitate making a business case as part of your sizing proposal.

Step 5. Understand That It Is Always About the Business  

At the end of the day, a decision to move forward with anything new comes down to determining what impact it will have on the bottom line. That is a key reason as to why a conversation about function points will not go as far as a conversation, for example,  about improving project delivery through improved estimating techniques and being able to more accurately predict delivery dates and satisfy customer expectations. Always consider and speak to how this change can benefit the business.

Following these five steps will not guarantee success each and every time, but they will help you to better position your case for function point sizing. If you still get a “no,” you will most likely have a better understanding of what needs to change in the future in order to secure a “yes.”

David Herron
Vice President, Software Performance Management

Written by David Herron at 05:00
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