ISMA 14 conference: Using Function Points for Economic Analysis of Software: 30 years of progress with IFPUG Function Points

ISMA 14 conference: Using Function Points for Economic Analysis of Software: 30 years of progress with IFPUG Function Points.

Capers Jones (Namcook Analytics LLC)


Standard IFPUG function points have been in use for 30 years. Standard IFPUG function points have more data than all other metrics combined. As a result, function points can be used to evaluate many software development and maintenance methods. This presentation shows how standard “test beds” using function points can be used to evaluate a selection of software methods.

This presentation uses a standard analytic approach for evaluating the effectiveness of new and emerging technologies on software development productivity, software maintenance productivity, and software quality.

The current version of this presentation uses recent data to analyze Agile development, extreme programming, Watts Humphrey’s Team Software Process (TSP) and Personal Software Process (PSP), IBM’ s Rational Unified Process (RUP), and Six-Sigma for Software. These technologies are evaluated on the basis of the 12 known ways that software projects can be improved.

In general methods that focus on quality such as PSP, TSP, and RUP are most effective for large applications. Methods that focus on flexibility in the face of rapid requirements changes such as Agile and XP are effective for small applications.

New material for 2017 will discuss expanded uses of function point metrics for portfolio analysis, backlog analysis, mergers and acquisitions, and outsource agreements. The emergence of high-speed, low-cost function point metrics is discussed.

Statement of purpose:

• Explain the reason for the development of function point metrics
• Explain the problems of “lines of code” metrics for economic studies
• Explain the kinds of function point metrics in current use
• Explain possible future kinds of function point metrics
• Show how function points provide a method for evaluating new technologies
• Demonstrate the evaluation method against new technologies such as TSP/PSP
• Discuss the pros and cons of new software technologies
• Provide latest productivity and quality data based on new technologies

The presentation discusses the history and usage of function point metrics from their origins in IBM in the mid 1970’s through today. It also covers 30 years of IFPUG progress. The latest version of this speech also includes discussions of new SNAP metric and many function point variants such as COSMIC function points, web-object points, use case points, and Agile story points. There are so many function point variants in 2017 that collecting reliable data is actually harder than it was 10 years ago. However, the presentation suggests that additional metrics could be developed for areas that are currently difficult to quantify, such as data base volumes, data quality, and customer service. In 2017, several high-speed and low-cost function point methods began to surface such as Software Risk Master (SRM) are speeding up function points and in the case of SRM, moving them earlier even before requirements.

About the speaker:

Capers Jones is currently Vice President and CTO of Namcook Analytics LLC. (formerly President of Capers Jones & Associates LLC). This is an international consultancy dealing with software metrics, software measurement, software quality, and litigation support. Worked at IBM from 1965 until 1978. Left IBM with 40 others to form a new software laboratory for ITT in Stratford, CT. Founded Software Productivity Research (SPR) in 1984. SPR was a pioneer in software cost estimating, software assessments, and software benchmarks. Allan Albrecht, the inventor of function points, worked at SPR after leaving IBM. Other well-known metric and function point experts who worked at SPR include Michael Bragen, Doug Brindley, Tom Cagley, Mike Cunnane, David Garmus, Bill Harmon, David Herron, David Longstreet, and Mark Pinis. SPR was sold in 1998. After four years it was repurchased by employees. Doug Brindley is the President and Michael Bragen the VP of Technology. Author of 17 books, most of which deal with assessments, estimating, measurement, and project management.