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Internal Challenges at eSell

In any complex development organization, establishing such a pervasive software measurement program is a challenge. Many technical, organizational, cultural, and political obstacles had to be overcome at eSell before the benefits described earlier could be realized. Here are some of them:

  • Early understanding of the potential benefits of FP sizing/estimation was insufficient when compared with the perceived cost and effort to build the measurement program.

  • No software measurement methodology was in place, making the learning curve quite steep.

  • No historical data was available, so industry-standard data was used until enough experience was obtained and more Web/eSell-specific data was gathered.

  • Function point counting (FPC) practices that did not quite fit Web application development methodologies and RAD project methodologies all had to be adapted without losing sight of the IFPUG CPM "spirit" (principles and intent).

  • Sizing for product development and estimation for project implementation services required completely different techniques and data models.

Going forward, there is much potential for other departments across eSell to leverage the benefits of the FPE process. The following departments have started, but none to as deep a level of adoption as the successful Implementation Services organization.

  • Implementation Services: eSell's deployment teams have wholly adopted FP analysis. All project managers and architects are trained and use these techniques daily. This allows more accurate estimation and management of resource allocation, cost forecasting, productivity tracking, scheduling, and other vital planning tasks.

  • Product Development: eSell's product development teams also use FP estimation techniques to size products already built and estimate the resources and time required to build new products or enhancements. There is room for growth here.

  • Product Management: eSell's product management teams use our unique FP estimation capability to get a more accurate picture of what product features are in the highest demand in the customer base. Because we gather functional requirements from the end-user's point of view, we get a unique insight into where the product road map needs to be directed. We can also forecast the costs of new or enhanced functionality.

  • Sales: eSell's Sales organization actually sells FP expertise and methodologies as an important component of their technology product and services package. They believe this FP-based component is of high value and a key differentiator in the marketplace. The standardization and objectivity of the approach, the focus on the ultimate end-user, and the fine-grained control the client has on project cost serve together as a risk management vehicle and a client confidence-builder for eSell's solution and relationship. For example, the Make vs. Buy tool is now commonly used in the field.

  • Training: The eSell Academy teaches RAD and FP principles to its employees and implementation partners through formal classes. In fact, some of eSell's customers are so sold on the benefits of FPC/FPE analysis that they have either sent their project managers and development managers to eSell's project sizing and estimation classes or have retained eSell to bring the FPC/FPE class onsite to their facility.

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