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27.5 Effect of Project Size on Development Activities
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If you are working on a 1-person project, the biggest influence on the project s success or failure is you. If you re working on a 25-person project, it s conceivable that you re still the biggest influence, but it s more likely that no one
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27. How Program Size Affects Construction
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person will wear the medal for that distinction; your organization will be a stronger influence on the project s success or failure.
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Activity Proportions and Size
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As project size increases and the need for formal communications increases, the kinds of activities a project needs change dramatically. Here s a chart that shows the proportions of development activities for projects of different sizes:
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Figure 27-3 Construction activities dominate small projects. Larger projects require more architecture, more integration work, and more system testing to succeed. Requirements work is not shown on this diagram because requirements effort is not as directly a function of program size as other activities are. Sources: Albrecht 1979; Glass 1982; Boehm, Gray, and Seewaldt 1984; Boddie 1987; Card 1987; McGarry, Waligora, and McDermott 1989; Brooks 1995; Jones 1998; Jones 2000; Boehm et al, 2000.
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0 KEY POINT
On a small project, construction is the most prominent activity by far, taking up as much as 65 percent of the total development time. On a medium-size project, construction is still the dominant activity but its share of the total effort falls to about 50 percent. On very large projects, architecture, integration, and system testing take up more time, and construction becomes less dominant. In short, as project size increases, construction becomes a smaller part of the total effort. The chart looks as though you could extend it to the right and make construction disappear altogether, so in the interest of protecting my job, I ve cut it off at 512K. Construction becomes less predominant because as project size increases, the construction activities detailed design, coding, debugging, and unit testing scale up proportionately but many other activities scale up faster. Here s an illustration:
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27. How Program Size Affects Construction
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Other activities Effort Construction
Size
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Figure 27-4 The amount of software construction work is a near-linear function of project size. Other kinds of work increase non-linearly as project size increases.
Projects that are close in size will perform similar activities, but as sizes diverge, the kinds of activities will diverge too. As the introduction to this chapter described, when the Gigatron Deluxe comes out at 10 times the size of the original Gigatron, it will need 25 times more construction effort, 25-50 times the planning effort, 30 times the integration effort, and 40 times the architecture and system testing. Proportions of activities vary because different activities become critical at different project sizes. Barry Boehm and Richard Turner found that spending about 5 percent of total project costs on architecture produced the lowest cost for projects in the 10,000 line-of-code range. But for projects in the 100,000 line-ofcode range, spending 15-20 percent of project effort on architecture produced the best results (Boehm and Turner 2004). Here s a list of activities that grow at a more-than-linear rate as project size increases: Communication Planning Management Requirements development System functional design Interface design and specification Architecture Integration Defect removal System testing
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27. How Program Size Affects Construction
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Document production
Regardless of the size of a project, a few techniques are always valuable: disciplined coding practices, design and code inspections by other developers, good tool support, and use of high-level languages. These techniques are valuable on small projects and invaluable on large projects.
Programs, Products, Systems, and System Products
Lines of code and team size aren t the only influences on a project s size. A more subtle influence is the quality and the complexity of the final software. The original Gigatron, the Gigatron Jr., might have taken only a month to write and debug. It was a single program written, tested, and documented by a single person. If the 2,500-line Gigatron Jr. took one month, why did the full-fledged 25,000-line Gigatron take 20 The simplest kind of software is a single program that s used by itself by the person who developed it or, informally, by a few others. A more sophisticated kind of program is a software product, a program that s intended for use by people other than the original developer. A software product is used in environments that differ to lesser or greater extents from the environment in which it was created. It s extensively tested before it s released, it s documented, and it s capable of being maintained by others. A software product costs about three times as much to develop as a software program. Another level of sophistication is required to develop a group of programs that work together. Such a group is called a software system. Development of a system is more complicated than development of a simple program because of the complexity of developing interfaces among the pieces and the care needed to integrate the pieces. On the whole, a system also costs about three times as much as a simple program. When a system product is developed, it has the polish of a product and the multiple parts of a system. System products cost about nine times as much as simple programs (Brooks 1995, Shull et al 2002). A failure to appreciate the differences in polish and complexity among programs, products, systems, and system products is one common cause of estimation errors. Programmers who use their experience in building a program to estimate the schedule for building a system product can underestimate by a factor of almost 10. As you consider the following example, refer to the chart on page TBD. If you used your experience in writing 2K lines of code to estimate the
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