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Software Project Management & IT

Research Based Assignment
Article: A, P. L., & S. (2015). Effort Distribution to Estimate Cost
in Small to Medium Software Development Project with Use Case
Points. Procedia Computer Science, 72, 78-85.

Submitted to,
Prof. N. Ramakrishnan

Submitted by,
Kunnam SP Dheeraj


Majority of software development projects fail because of poor software project planning. The
reasons found for many projects to fail is lack of accuracy in estimations. The level of
uncertainty and lack of data availability about effort distribution in each phase of software
development make it difficult for the project manager to estimate the number of staff and other
resources that are required. And there is no standard cost that can be considered in common for
all the projects. So the use of UCP (use case points) method to estimate the effort of software
development projects need to be expanded to estimate software development costs. This requires
the knowledge of the distribution of effort per activity of software development projects. Further
by multiplying the effort per activity with the standard rate of charge per activity gives the cost
of software development. This paper is mainly focused on how to determine the value of effort in
percentage at each phase of software development for small to medium size software
development projects. That value of effort distribution can be used as the base to the cost
estimation using UCP method.

Structure of the paper:

In the paper, firstly the various phases and activities involved in a software project are discussed.
Secondly, the effort distribution for various activities in medium to large scale software
development projects is presented. Then the step by step procedure for UCP method is discussed.
Then the profile of the small to medium software projects used for the research is presented. The
results are presented and are validated.

Research methodology used:

Primary research was done to collect the data from 15 different small to medium software
projects and the methodology used to collect the data is questionnaire. The validation of effort
distribution was done using different small to medium software development projects whose
actual effort is already known.

Major findings/results:
The percentage of effort distribution for the software development phases amounted to 72.6%,
and the ongoing life-cycle activities phases amounted to 17.5%, and the quality and testing
phases amounted to 9.9%. The possible factors that resulted in the variation of percentage of
effort compared to previous researches were size of the project, scope of the project, software
development methods, time of the project and number of employees working on the project.
Based on the validation done on the software project cost estimation, it was found that there is a
deviation in costs by 11.8% and there is a deviation in effort by 6.25%. The estimated cost of
software development projects can be obtained by multiplying the effort per activity and the pay
rate of each activity. This method can be used by the project managers to estimate the costs or to
estimate the efforts for any small to medium projects. This would further help as a basis for
planning the resources that are required for the timely execution of the project.

The effort distribution was calculated based on three different phases namely software
development phases, ongoing life-cycle activities and quality and testing phases. Each of these
phases have a group of activities under them. So the grouping of these activities has to be done
properly so that there will not be any miscalculation in the effort calculated. The weights that are
being considered in the various steps of UCP method determine the final accuracy of the effort
calculated. The weights chosen in the research are not clearly justified. The percentage of effort
calculated for medium to large projects cant be taken as a reference for small to medium size
projects. The distribution of effort has to be done for each activity and the processing time for
each activity has to be considered for better estimation. Also at each activity level the number of
employees required has to be considered. There is no information on whether the same kind of
projects with same models are used during validation. For better results, projects of similar
profile, similar duration, and similar models have to be considered during the validation. The
limitation of this method is the effort cant be standardized and it varies from small software
projects to medium software projects to large software projects.