Analysis Effort Method

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The analysis effort method is a method for estimating the duration of software engineering projects. It is best suited to producing initial estimates for the length of a job based on a known time duration for preparing a specification. Inputs to the method are numeric factors that indicate Size (S), Familiarity (F), and Complexity (C). These, with a duration for preparing the software specification, can be used in a look-up table (which contains factors based on previous experience) to determine the length of each of the following phases of the work. These are Design, Coding, and Unit testing and Testing. The method does not include any time for training or project management. This method should be used as one of a number of estimation techniques to obtain a more accurate estimate.[1]

The Analysis Effort Method is significant because it assists software development teams in accurately estimating the number of function points needed for a particular software development phase. This method helps to provide initial estimates for the duration of a job based on a known time duration for preparing a specification and helps to properly allocate resources and time to complete these tasks. As such, the Analysis Effort Method provides an important tool that can be used by software engineering teams when establishing accurate project estimates.

With the analysis effort method, the stage of the project that forms the basis for the estimates is the analysis of requirements. Estimates for this can be arrived at by considering the stakeholders to be involved, the methods to be used (interviews or workshops for example), and by allocating sensible amounts of effort to these. The analysis effort method is probably the best choice where there is only a vague idea of the actual requirement but where the stakeholders to be involved in the analysis work can be identified.[2]

Steps in the Analysis Effort Method

Step 1: Create a project scope management plan.: The purpose of creating a project scope management plan is to provide a framework for defining the goals, objectives, and deliverables of a software development project. The plan should include detailed information about the project's timeline, budget, stakeholders, and other important elements. Additionally, it can help reduce uncertainty by providing an organized structure for breaking down tasks into measurable and manageable components. By providing this structure early on in the process of software development estimation, potential risks can be identified and addressed in order to ensure accurate estimates are made on time and within budget.
Step 2: Map out the work breakdown structure.: The Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) is a tool used in software development projects to break down the entire project into smaller, more manageable components. It helps to estimate the time and cost of the project in order to assess its feasibility. Additionally, it can be used with either a top-down or bottom-up approach for estimating costs and timelines. The top-down approach is typically used for quick estimation purposes, while the detailed analysis effort method provides more accurate estimates through an in-depth evaluation of all factors involved.
Step 3: Identify the units of measure in the software development estimation.: Units of measure are an important factor when it comes to accurate software project estimation. This is especially true with the product engineering approach, which relies on precise estimates of both components and functions in order to obtain a baseline estimate. Units of measure help provide clarity and accuracy, while also helping teams account for any potential discrepancies that may arise during the software development life cycle. It is important for teams to consider units of measure throughout the entire process in order to ensure that their project estimation efforts are successful.
Step 4: Use expert judgment and comparative or analogous estimation.: The Analysis Effort Method for Accurate Software Project Estimation utilizes expert judgment and comparative or analogous estimation techniques to provide a more accurate estimate of the effort required for software projects. By using expert opinion, project estimators can draw on the experience and knowledge of professionals in the field to create more precise projections. Comparative or analogous estimation also allows project estimators to better estimate by comparing data from similar projects and making correlations between them. Both techniques are important components in producing an accurate estimation of a software project effort that considers both current conditions as well as near-term trends.
Step 5: Use bottom-up, top-down, and parametric model estimating.: Bottom-up, top-down, and parametric model estimating are three different methods used to accurately estimate the size and effort of a software project. Bottom-up estimation focuses on breaking down the project into smaller pieces in order to understand what activities or deliverables need to be completed in order to achieve the project's objective. This method is more open for inspection but can be less reliable than parametric estimation methods. The top-down approach involves looking at an overall goal and creating estimates based on that information without performing any breakdowns into individual parts of the projects. Parametric models use historical data from past projects in order to create an accurate prediction of a current or future project's requirements and timeline. All three methods have different benefits and drawbacks, so it is important for software teams to consider which approach will best meet their needs before making their final decision on how they should proceed with their estimation efforts.
Step 6: Use three-point estimating and what-if analysis.: The purpose of using three-point estimating and what-if analysis is to provide accurate estimations for software projects. This technique allows stakeholders to assess the different factors involved in a project, resulting in more realistic estimates. It also provides greater visibility into potential risks and enables stakeholders to be better prepared for any disturbances or changes that may arise during the course of a project.
Step 7: Finalize the estimation.: It is important to finalize the estimation in this method because it allows for more accurate planning and execution of the project. By aggregating all the estimates from all components and functions, and approving it with management, projects are better able to stay on track and meet deadlines. This type of estimation technique also helps in avoiding any potential cost overruns or delays due to inaccurate estimations. With accurate estimates, teams can more accurately manage budgets and timeframes associated with their projects.
Step 8: Maintain the estimation for the entire project.: It is important to maintain the estimation throughout the project in order to ensure that the final product is on budget and meets expectations. Additionally, a proper estimation process can help keep the project on track and meet deadlines.

Tools That Support Analysis Effort Method

  1. Expert judgment: Expert judgment is a method of estimating how much effort a software project will require based on the opinions of experts with relevant experience and knowledge. This approach can be beneficial as it saves time compared to other methods, but its accuracy or reliability can be unreliable due to a lack of objectivity. Expert judgment is generally gathered from similar projects that have been executed in the past in order to produce an accurate estimate for a new project.
  2. Comparative or analogous estimation: Comparative or analogous estimation is a project estimation technique that makes use of data from similar projects to arrive at an estimate. This type of estimation relies on the comparison of data from previous projects to inform decisions about future ones. By using this method, decision-makers can benefit from more objective and repeatable estimates than those generated by expert estimators who rely solely on their own experience and knowledge. Comparative or analogous estimations are particularly useful for software development as there are often many variables that need to be taken into account when making predictions about timelines, resources, and costs for a given project. With this method, decision-makers have the necessary information to accurately estimate the effort required for any given software development project.
  3. Top-down estimating: Top-down estimating is a project estimation method that uses prior knowledge and experience of similar projects to make predictions about the size and effort of a new project. By comparing new projects to past projects, top-down estimating makes it possible for project managers to gain an accurate understanding of the scope and complexity of the task at hand. The four main methods used in top-down estimation are expert opinion-based estimates, top-down estimates, bottom-up estimates, and parametric or algorithmic models. These methods offer many advantages over expert opinion as they are more objective and repeatable. With this approach, project managers can have greater confidence in their estimations as they can rely on proven data from previous successful endeavors.
  4. Bottom-up estimating: Bottom-up estimating is a technique of software project estimation that examines the individual components of the project in order to produce an accurate estimate. This approach differs from expert estimates and other methods, as it allows for more reliable estimates and easier monitoring of progress. It can be a time-consuming process that requires systematic examination to arrive at an effective estimate, yet it is still highly recommended due to its accuracy when compared with other methods.
  5. Parametric model estimating: Parametric model estimating is a quantitative approach for determining the effort needed to complete a software project. It incorporates the use of parameters, such as the project's size and complexity, to create an estimation that is more precise than other methods. This method provides organizations with higher accuracy in planning and budgeting projects, as it takes into account developments like risk factors that could affect the results of traditional estimation methods.
  6. What-if analysis: What-if analysis is a method of assessing the likely outcomes of potential changes to an organization's inputs and outputs, such as its files and interfaces. It can be employed by businesses to estimate the effects of these changes before making a decision; this helps ensure that they are taking steps toward successful projects.
  7. Work breakdown structure mapping: A work breakdown structure is a method of organizing a project into smaller, more manageable parts. This allows for better resource and time management and reduces the complexity of the project. By using a work breakdown structure, it is possible to create an estimate of the effort and cost associated with each element of the project. A top-down approach is usually used for assessing potential projects without going into too much detail. This approach involves breaking down large tasks into smaller ones until each step can be estimated in terms of effort and cost. By using data from previous projects, this method can provide an accurate estimation for software projects.
  8. Software estimation techniques: Software project planning can be aided by a variety of software estimation techniques. These techniques include waterfall and parametric methods, analogy, relative sizing, effort method, programming techniques, planning poker, expert judgment, and affinity estimation. Bottom-up/top-down estimation is also commonly used. One popular technique to support project planning is the use-case point method which helps in estimating the size and effort of software projects.
  9. Analogous estimating: Analogous estimating is a technique used to make software project estimates based on assumptions and information from past projects. This method relies on making assertions about the effort drivers of similar projects in order to create estimates for new ones. The estimation effort consists of collecting data about past projects, analyzing the data, and then using it as input when making estimates of future projects. By comparing parameters such as duration, size, complexity, and cost, previous project experience can be used to produce more accurate predictions for current endeavors. Analogous estimating can be especially helpful for software teams who have limited historical data available or lack an established estimating system due to their size or recentness.
  10. Three-point estimating: Three-point estimating is a project management technique that helps project managers accurately estimate the cost, duration, and resources needed for a project. It is based on making three estimates – best case, most likely case, and worst case – for each activity in the work breakdown structure. This approach allows teams to make informed decisions about how much effort should be put into each activity, as well as providing a range of estimates that can be used to analyze potential risks or rewards associated with specific activities. The technique can also help teams understand which tasks require more effort than initially expected in order to meet deadlines and stay within budget. Planning poker, T-shirt sizes, and dot voting are popular Agile techniques used to support three-point estimating by helping participants come up with accurate user stories that better reflect the amount of effort involved in completing an activity or task.

How Analysis Effort Method Helps with Software Project Estimation

The Analysis Effort Method is a significant improvement in the accuracy of software project estimation. It has been found to be more accurate than other well-known methods, and its use has demonstrated better results when used to estimate the development effort of 10 software projects. The improved accuracy of this method helps organizations and developers accurately negotiate the cost of a software project.

Effort Estimation for Requirement Changes during Software Development Phase
Effort Estimation
source: Sufyan Basri et al.

Factors involved in estimation

The main factors involved in estimation include the complexity of the project, knowledge and skill levels of estimators, available resources, project milestones and goals, and the current progress of the project. Estimators must consider all these factors when creating timelines and budgets for projects. Experience with various methods can also be beneficial in creating accurate estimates. Algorithmic methods are especially useful for later phases in a project's lifecycle due to their complexity.

How the analysis effort method helps in accurate software project estimation

The Analysis Effort Method is a way of estimating the duration of software engineering projects. It takes into account factors such as size, familiarity, and complexity to provide an initial estimate for the length of the job. This method helps to accurately assess the amount of effort needed for a project, allowing developers to plan accordingly and make sure that resources are properly allocated toward completion. By taking these variables into account, it is possible to create more accurate estimations and ensure that software projects meet their deadlines without running into unexpected costs or delays.

What are the different models used in estimation?

Different models used in estimation can provide different advantages and disadvantages depending on the project. While parametric methods, such as Function Point Analysis, maybe more accurate and objective than other estimation models, they also tend to require more time for analysis. Additionally, for FPA specifically, to be effective it requires detailed specifications from users that support each user story. By using this agile approach of applying FPA per user story, a software project can receive an accurate estimate with minimal effort.

What are the different techniques used in estimation?

The different estimation techniques are analogy, effort method, relative sizing, programming techniques, agile planning poker, ideal time, elapsed time, program evaluation and review (PERT), disaggregation, and CoCoMo 1/CoCoMo 2. The analogy is used when projects of similar scope have been worked on in the past. The effort method is used to estimate the amount of work required for a project by basing estimates on data from similar previous projects or from expert opinion. Relative sizing is employed when estimating the size of a project relative to other projects or tasks. Programming techniques are used for estimating coding tasks based on known parameters like lines of code or complexity levels. Agile planning poker uses story points assigned by team members to each task as an estimation technique. Ideal time estimations consider only required activities with no buffers built in for risks associated with the project whereas elapsed time estimations factor in some buffer for such risks into their estimates. PERT involves breaking down larger tasks into smaller components which can then be estimated more accurately using traditional methods like analogies or effort-based estimations while disaggregation focuses heavily on risk analysis before generating accurate estimates through factoring in feedback loops and formal reviews instead of simply extrapolating existing data sets as done by other methods such as analogy and effort based estimations. CoCoMo 1/CoCoMo 2 is a parametric method of estimating function points using constraints. Planning poker, t-shirt sizes, and Scrum are three Agile estimation techniques that can be used to generate project estimates accurately. Finally, dot voting is a technique used to determine the highest priority items in a product backlog by assigning dots to each item and seeing which one has the most votes.

How do you estimate the effort for a software development project?

To accurately estimate the effort required to develop or maintain a software application, project managers can use the Analysis Effort Method. This method is more accurate than standard UCP methods and simple linear regression-based effort estimation methods. The Analysis Effort Method uses use-case point analysis to determine the size of a software project and then uses this information to calculate an estimated amount of effort required for its successful completion. The use-case point method also considers other factors such as complexity, risk, and environmental conditions in order to provide an accurate estimation of the required effort.

What are the different resources involved in estimation?

The resources involved in estimation include data, expertise, and tools. Data is essential for estimating project tasks by providing the necessary information to accurately gauge the scope of a project. The expertise of the estimated resources is important for providing accurate estimates as they are able to consider all factors that may impact a project's timeline and cost. Finally, tools can be useful for estimating tasks and tracking progress. These tools range from basic spreadsheets to more complex software programs specifically designed to aid in effort estimation processes.

What are the different phases of the software development process?

The Software Development Process (SDLC) is composed of six stages, each of which contains different procedures in order to improve the quality of the software created. The first phase is Function Point Analysis, where functionality and data requirements are identified. The second phase involves Software Change Impact Analysis, where existing features are tested for compatibility with any new features added over time. Subsequent phases include Software Requirement Changes, where existing features are revised or replaced; and finally, Software Change Effort Estimation, which uses metrics-based techniques such as regression analysis to determine a more accurate estimation of how much effort will be required to complete a project successfully. Through this process, developers can better anticipate potential issues during development and consequently reduce the risk associated with their project.

What are the different types of software development projects?

Software development projects can vary greatly in complexity, scope, and objectives. The most traditional approach to software project management is the Waterfall model, which is best suited for projects with well-defined requirements and low complexity. Other models such as Agile are more flexible and allow for more changes during development. When it comes to estimating the size of a software project, four common methods are used: expert opinion-based estimation, top-down estimation, bottom-up estimation, and estimation using a parametric or algorithmic model. Each method has its own strengths and weaknesses so it's important to choose the one that suits the particular project at hand. Top-down estimation is currently the most popular approach in the literature for accurate software sizing estimates.

How do you choose the right estimation technique for your project?

Choosing the right estimation technique for a software project is important and depends on the current progress of the project as well as available experts. Generally, analogy, relation, and percentage methods are suitable for early rough estimates. Weighting and multiplication methods are more suitable when factors influencing the project are known in detail. Algorithmic methods are more suited for later phases of a project when detailed knowledge is required. It is important that everyone involved understands what needs to be delivered and that experts who will actually be working on the project are consulted.

Best Practices for Using Analysis Effort Method

  • Clearly define the project scope and objectives: The significance of defining the scope and objectives of a project is important in order to ensure accurate budgeting, resource allocation, and timeline management. Properly outlining the scope, objectives, and tasks of a project enables team members to develop an effective work breakdown structure (WBS) that will help guide their efforts. Additionally, having an up-to-date backlog with user stories and features helps all stakeholders understand what needs to be completed for the successful completion of the project. This information can then be used as part of an analysis effort method for estimating software projects accurately.
  • Utilize expert judgment to gain a better understanding of the project: It is important to utilize expert judgment when using the Analysis Effort Method for Accurate Software Project Estimation because it can help ensure that estimates are accurate. By obtaining an expert opinion and utilizing analogies, project estimators can be sure that their assumptions about the scope of the project are reasonable. Additionally, being willing to adjust estimates as more information about the project becomes available allows for greater accuracy in estimation.
  • Break the project down into smaller, manageable parts for easier estimation: It is important to break a project down into smaller, more manageable parts in order to produce an accurate estimate. The bottom-up estimation method allows for this kind of breakdown, which can lead to estimates that are more reliable than those from experts. By breaking a project down into smaller components, the project can be better managed and estimated efficiently and effectively. This method should be used as intended - as a guide rather than an exact calculation - in order to accurately estimate effort.
  • Use comparative or analogous estimation to compare similar projects: Comparative or analogous estimation is a project estimation technique whereby reference information from similar projects is used to make an estimate for the new project. This method relies on the principle of similarity, which is more objective and repeatable than expert estimation. The most common approach to employing this technique involves finding three similar projects and taking the average of their respective estimates. More sophisticated methods involve taking into consideration greater amounts of information about each project being compared in order to come up with an accurate estimate for the new project.
  • Utilize top-down, bottom-up, and parametric models when estimating: The use of multiple types of models when estimating is important to ensure the most accurate estimates possible. Each type of model can provide different insights into the project, and when used in combination they can provide a comprehensive picture that helps to inform accurate estimates. Expert opinion-based models are well suited for projects with complex requirements, while top-down and bottom-up estimation methods are more appropriate for simpler tasks with fewer moving parts. Parametric estimation is often considered more reliable due to its objective nature, and Function Point Analysis is a popular technique within this realm. Lastly, story points offer an agile approach that allows developers to quickly create estimates in line with their current understanding of the project’s scope and complexity. When multiple models are leveraged together, it provides a strong foundation for creating confident software project estimations.
  • Use three-point estimating to account for uncertainty and risk: Three-point estimating is a popular method used to determine the cost, time, and quality of a project. It involves assigning story points to individual team members based on their estimate of the work involved. This helps experts share their estimates and reasoning for them so that any uncertainty or risk can be accounted for. The Delphi and Planning Poker methods are similar in structure but Planning Poker is more accurate as it requires multiple experts over a longer period of time. Three-point estimating helps account for any uncertainty or risk that may be present during the estimation process by averaging multiple estimates from different experts.
  • Conduct what-if analysis to understand the potential impact of changes: A what-if analysis is a process for analyzing the potential impacts of changes to a software system. It involves calculating the weighting each function has and how these functions are affected by changes. This helps to identify which components will be impacted the most and provides an understanding of how those impacts can be mitigated. By using this approach, developers can make more informed decisions when making changes or implementing new features into a software system.
  • Finalize the estimation and create a plan for the project: Best practices for using the Analysis Effort Method for accurate software project estimation include gathering data from all sources, creating an initial estimate, consulting experts if new information is discovered during the estimation process, making analogies to previous projects when applicable and finally having the final estimate approved by management and the project team. Additionally, it's important to factor in risk assessment as well as create a contingency plan in case of cost overruns or missed deadlines. Finally, it's essential to regularly review progress throughout the duration of a project against estimated timelines and costs.

See Also

Project Management
Software Development
Software Development Effort Estimation