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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Automated Estimation Techniques and Tools - Functions and types of tools

Automated estimation techniques and tools allows the planner to estimate the cost and effort and to perform what-if analysis for important project variables such as delivery date or staffing. If applying different estimation tools on the same project data, variation in estimated results are encountered. Sometimes, the predicted values are different from the actual values. The output of estimation tools should be used as one data point from which estimates are derived.

The six functions performed by the automated estimation tools are:

- Sizing of project deliverable.
- Selecting project activities.
- Predicting staffing levels.
- Predicting software effort.
- Predicting software cost.
- Predicting software schedules.

These automated tools require an estimate of project size for example LOC and FP. They require qualitative project characteristics such as complexity, reliability, or business criticality. They also require description of the development staff and/or development environment.

- Tools like BYL (Before You Leap) and WICOMO (Wang Institute Cost Model) require the user to provide lines of code estimates and these estimates are categorized by programming language and type. These tools produces estimated elapsed project duration (in months), effort in staff-months, average staffing per month, average productivity in LOC/pm, and cost per month.
- SLIM is an automated costing system based on the Rayleigh-Putnam Model.
- ESTIMACS uses function point estimation method. It helps the planner to estimate system development effort, cost and staff, the risk and the hardware configuration.
- SPQR/20 developed by Software Productivity Research Inc. It has the user complete a simple set of multiple choice questions.

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