While introducing the new Pentalog organizational structure, we announced also the establishment of Business Liners (BL).One of their responsibilities consists of demonstrating in the field the in depth improvement of work methods, conducted under the responsibility of the Technical Director of and Quality Director.Regularly, each BL will speak on the progress of these implementations in the field.One of the first articles prepared by Pierre Peutin the IS BL (Information Systems), presents the metric system as applied on one of our projects.Other topics of interest will follow.
After several months of in depth work on improving the process of estimating costs, and to respond to Fred’s post on establishing the metric system in Pentalog, I would like to mention now the widespread use of this system in most of the Pentalog projects.Before giving an example, I would like briefly to explain the philosophy of the metric system. A metric is a progress or quality indicator of the software development. More precisely I would define it as the use of metrics to measure and to compare the development times. For this, the first step is the breakdown of the project requirements into subcategory requirements and then into work units for each subcategory requirement. Each work unit belongs to a certain type (simple, medium complex, for example) and is defined by assigning a certain number of characteristics. By classifying these work units, then it is possible to assign a worload which translates into the number of man days for development (or number of hours, depending on the structure chosen).Taking for example a data entry form, the characteristics could be the number of input fields, the number of drop-down list, of images, the complexity of the actions related to the different buttons, etc…This first stage gives a point of reference to the project.After defining the reference, which is generally used in the first step to accelerate and standardize the estimates, we must confirm the costs attached to each work unit by correlating it with the actual time spent in developing each requirement. I would like to note that the reference allows for complete transparency in regards to the development time and for the customer.When the reference has reached a certain maturity (equivalence established between the workload and the time spent during development), it is possible to measure the productivity and thus to establish goals for improving the performance of the development team. The idea here is to gradually reduce the worklaod for each work unit in regards to the reference in order to increase the development speed.It is precisely this process that I would like to present now.The project given here, as an example, is the development of a management solution for sales outlets for one of our French customers. The development is carried out by 5 teams spread over 3 Pentalog Offshore sites (Romania, Moldova and Vietnam) with 40 members.For this project with more than 6000 man days in 2009 based on the SCRUM method (AGILE method), using the metrics system is intended primarily to improve the development productivity by increasing the number of detailed requirements contained in each Sprint; the reference points have been provided for at the beginning of the project by the client.The work of the project manager is to analyze at the end of each Sprint, the work units in order to adjust the development workloads (by increasing them at the beginning in respect to the content of the Sprints and then decreasing them when the team has reached its cruising speed to improve it’s productivity). Having these common references also allows to more accurately measure the performance of each team and adjust the continuity of the management.In the diagram below, which uses the data from this project, the project leader is able to compare the results obtained in the development of the interfaces for each of the 5 teams to see who are his top performers and those who are less so. The idea here is to first smooth the performance of all the teams using as a point of reference the faster team and then in regards to the reference development times.By analyzing this graph, there is a visible disparity in development time between the teams. The project manager then got down to the task of making the necessary changes to smooth the time of all the teams.After bringing all the teams to the same development level, the project leader can tackle the job to improve the productivity by gradually reducing the workloads of each type.Here I am trying to show the first example of the industrialization of the Pentalog metric system, notably by explaining how it is possible to increase the productivity of a project. In a future post I will explain, by using another example, the establishment of a reference repository.