Software Impact Payoff

Oct 17th, 2002 by Tony in QSM3

In his classic study of software engineering economics, Boehm isolates a number of “cost drivers,” of which Tools, People, Systems and Management are indicated to be the most important. By studying these drivers, we can determine which areas ought to be given management priority:

Category Influence
Tools ++ 3
People ++++++ 11
Systems +++++++++ 17
Management ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ 64

Top managers could use this as a high-level guide showing where best to concentrate their organizational efforts. Suppose the elements had not been labelled, so that all you could see was a list of four impact ratios – 3, 11, 17 and 64. If you were managing a software engineering organization, where would you spend the most of your time seeking improvement? Obviously the factor of 64 would be the first place to look for improvement, and that place is management.

The question seems absurd, except for the fact that most managers answer the question in reverse order of the chart if they are given only the categories – tools, people, systems, and management. Perhaps the reason certain drivers are bigger that others is that management spends so little time paying attention to them.

— Jerry Weinberg, Quality Software Management Vol 3, Chapter 2

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