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ISBSG: Improving Estimation, Planningand Benchmarking of IT Software Projects

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“The ISBSG mission is to help decision makers, project managers and organizations to improve the planning and management of their IT by providing relevant, current and verified industry data,” explains Harold van Heeringen, ISBSG president. In 1997 with the laying of the first brick of this non-profit organization, the board of directors decided upon their primary mission. Fast forward to today and the organization has successfully collected data of more than 7500 development and enhancement projects and over 1000 maintenance & support applications. These figures are a reflection of the wide reach that the organization has gained across the globe.

Headquartered in Melbourne, Australia, the organization was formulated by a group of software metrics associations who figured that the IT industry lacked knowledge, data and experience in outlining their minimal project requirements, time prerequisites and budgets. ISBSG data figured out all the industry’s cracks and crevices and filled these gaps with their data being used to improve software estimation processes, software supplier selection processes, software bench marking and supplier performance measurement.

“Many organizations have a very low maturity level when it comes to estimating projects and many of them don’t even realize this. Time and again projects are estimated just using experience and opinions of experts, while it is well known that these expert estimates are usually too optimistic, often resulting in (severe) schedule and budget overruns. ISBSG data helps by bringing in relevant historical data to check whether the expert estimates are actually in line with whatever has been done before.” explains Harold.

The organization employs tools such as the comparative estimation tool, an online query tool and a reality check tool for their clients’ business necessities. But the Data Repositories stand in the foremost position being at the peak of market demand. The data sets are the ones which are publicly independent and are available in the market without the need for any additional services or tools.
All the data that is provided is in MS Excel, making it hassle free for users to have a detailed view of the projects, have their own analysis and have their own statistics on their data sets. These data sets that ISBSG provides, ensures that the clients don’t require the employment of any further services or tooling.

The productivity data helps organizations to improve their project success rates by estimating the team size, effort hours, cost and the time requirements. The data is further used in parametric estimation models. Briefing on the same, Harold adds, “Parametric estimation models that are based on ISO/IEC standards for software size are used in higher maturity estimation processes. For parametric estimation to be accurate, relevant historical data is necessary and this is where ISBSG data is used, especially when no company data is available.”

In addition, the organization provides special analysis reports on the data against low cost. These reports feature for instance the difference in productivity between government and non-government organizations, an analysis on the most optimal team size or the amount of maintenance and support an organization can expect given the size of an application. These are just a few examples of the wide range of available reports.

Moving ahead to improve its data collection services, ISBSG is currently investing its resources into making the Online Data Query Tool live. The organization wishes to keep on collecting the data that is collected now, but is also working towards setting up new repositories for modern types of projects that have not been captured yet, such as SaaS management, cloud transitions and DevOps development.

ISBSG has successfully collected data of more than 7500 development and enhancement projects and over 1000 maintenance & support applications

ISBSG is currently also expending its services into China. Recently a partnership agreement with China Software Process Improvement Association (China SPI) was signed, resulting in the availability of ISBSG products in the Chinese language in the near future.