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Dec 20

Now Shipping! The Cutter/QSM Benchmark Almanac

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Dec 20

December 20, 2007

Great news! The Cutter Consortium is now shipping the Cutter/QSM Benchmark Almanac: Application Development Series, 2007-2008 Edition, the result of an unprecedented joint collaboration featuring industry research by QSM on software development (derived on projects mined from the QSM worldwide database), and expert opinions by Cutter authors like Tom DeMarco, Tim Lister, Jim Highsmith, Jim Love, E.M. Bennetan and… yours truly. For me, it’s personally gratifying to have been the editor of this report since I also wear two hats: being a managing partner of QSM Associates, as well as serving with Cutter as the director of the Benchmarking Practice.

Read the Overview here, which also contains ordering information.

Here’s an excerpt of Larry Putnam‘s preface to the report. As many of you know, Larry is considered by many to be the father of software measurement. He’s written (along with Ware Myers) five books on the subject, and countless papers going back over two decades. I’m deeply privileged to have worked with Larry over the years, and to have been part of this project. We hope you find this report extremely valuable to your organization.


From Larry Putnam Sr., President, Quantitative Software Management:, Inc.

When I first started in the software measurement and estimating business more than 30 years ago I was frequently asked intriguing questions like, “What are the most productive languages to write my code in?” “How much productivity gain do I get from using a high level language v. assembly language?” “How much economic benefit does a best in class software development company achieve compared to a worst in class company?” “Is there a trade-off between cost and schedule? How does that impact quality?”

There were many more similar questions. I didn’t know the answers. Why? There just wasn’t any reliable data. And to answer such questions one needs to have a good body of carefully measured and recorded software data about completed projects in a wide range of different application types and development environments.

So, not having much data was a great incentive to start collecting some with the ultimate goal of being to answer many of the questions that people in the industry raised. Along with my colleagues I started collecting it. The early collection efforts with a few scores of systems were enough to develop good estimating algorithms that have stood the test of time. A few hundred systems collected and analyzed provided a baseline for benchmarking an organization v. peers in its industry. A little more data and it became possible to establish industry trend patterns and productivity determinations that could be quantified in dollars saved, months of schedule reduction and improved reliability of the product delivered to the customer.

Trends started to become evident. We started to be able to answer a lot of the questions by referring to the real data history. Today we have a very extensive data base of completed projects from which to analyze and draw inferences and conclusions.

The almanac you are about to get into was our first attempt to put together a number of analytical studies and present our findings about what the data were trying to tell us about software development and how the results might be used to plan and manage better.

The first part of the book is devoted to answering some contemporary questions about software projects that can be dealt with quantitatively – with numbers from the data. I won’t try to describe them here. You will enjoy it more if you dig into it yourself.

The second part of the book is a collection of excellent papers by some outstanding authors that support and elaborate on the analytical work presented in the first part. The papers have been published by the Cutter Consortium. The topic areas are: Software Estimation; Managing with Metrics; Risk and Quality as it relates to testing; Applying Metrics to Outsourcing, Extreme Programming and Agile Environments. The authors who have done this work should be well known to you – people like Tom DeMarco, Tim Lister, Jim Highsmith, Jim Love, E.M. Bennetan and Michael Mah. They have an immense amount of good, practical experience gained over many years working on complex projects on the forefront of the state of the art.

There is a lot here: A great body of experience to draw from. You should enjoy it. More importantly, you should benefit a lot. I hope you do.

Lawrence H. Putnam

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