What Do Companies Use Function Points For?

This is the third in a series of three posts reviewing some metrics from DCG's function point counting activities in 2011. I recommend that you review the first ("What types of companies use function points today?" ) and second posts ("How extensively do companies use function points?") before continuing with this one. The third and final post in this series discusses how some of our clients get value from function points by considering, "What do companies use function points for?"

First, a reminder - while DCG is the largest independent provider of outsourced function point analysis (FPA) in the world, ours is a necessarily limited view of all the FPA being done in the world, and by picking only our most active clients, we have limited the view even further. Now, to answer the question, "What do companies use function points for?," we looked at how many applications and projects our major clients had us count in 2011.

DCG Client Use of FP Counts 2011

These are long-standing clients, so the data in the chart represents a steady-state or operational perspective rather than a start-up situation.   Consequently, this data excludes function point counting work we did in 2011 as part of benchmarking and portfolio sizing exercises for new clients.  Clearly, these are common uses of function points which tend to diminish once an organization is using function points operationally. The key lesson from the chart is that the majority of operational usage of function points (amongst these major clients of DCG) is retrospective.  That is, the function point counts are used with other data to evaluate productivity or outsourcing contract performance metrics. Frankly, this is slightly disappointing because we believe that the best value comes from using the size information to plan, as some of our clients are doing in using the data for effort estimation and product support pricing (this involves using the size of application in an algorithm to assign maintenance costs and, hence, fix maintenance prices).  Now, my qualifier here is that I know that for many of the productivity metrics counts, our client does their own FP counts at different points in their estimation process to monitor their likely compliance with the productivity metrics they are expected to meet in their outsourcing contracts.  This use of function points by our clients does not show up in the DCG figures because the client does the estimation FP counts themselves. What are your thoughts - what use of function points delivers most value?   Mike Harris DCG President

Written by Michael D. Harris at 10:54
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"It's frustrating that there are so many failed software projects when I know from personal experience that it's possible to do so much better - and we can help." 
- Mike Harris, DCG President

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