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An Investigation into Software Estimation Methods

By Khaled Hamdan

Abstract

There are currently no fully validated estimation approaches that can accurately predict\ud the effort needed for developing a software system (Kitchenham, et al, 1995).\ud Information gathered at the early stages of system development is not enough to\ud provide precise effort estimates, even though similar software systems may have been\ud developed in the past. Where similar systems have been developed, there are often\ud inherent differences in the features of these systems and in the development process\ud used. These differences are often sufficient to significantly reduce estimation accuracy.\ud Historically, cost estimation focuses on project effort and duration. There are many\ud estimation techniques, but none is consistently ‘best’ (Shepperd, 2003).\ud Software project management has become a crucial field of research due to the\ud increasing role of software in today’s world. Improving the functions of project\ud management is a main concern in software development organisation. The purpose of\ud this thesis is to develop a new model which incorporates cultural and leadership factors\ud in the cost estimation model, and is based on Case-Based Reasoning. The thesis\ud defines a new knowledge representation “ontology” to provide a common understanding\ud of project parameters. The associated system uses a statistically simulated bootstrap\ud method, which helps in tuning the analogy approach before application to real projects.\ud This research also introduces a new application of Profile Theory, which takes a formal\ud approach to the measurement of leadership capabilities.\ud A pilot study was performed in order to understand the approaches used for cost\ud estimation in the Gulf region. Based on this initial study, a questionnaire was further\ud refined and tested. Consequently, further surveys were conducted in the United Arab\ud Emirates. It was noticed that most of the software development projects failed in terms\ud of cost estimate. This was due to the lack of a precise software estimation model.\ud These studies also highlighted the importance of leadership and culture in software cost\ud estimation.\ud Effort was estimated using regression and analogy. The Bootstrap method was used to\ud refine the estimate of effort based on analogy, with correction for bias. Due to the very\ud different nature of the core and support systems, a separate model was developed for\ud each of them. As a result of the study, a new model for identifying and analysing was\ud developed. The model was then evaluated, and conclusions were drawn. These show\ud the importance of the model and the factors of organisational culture and leadership in\ud software project development and in cost estimation. Potential areas for future research\ud were identified

Topics: sub_softwareengineering
OAI identifier: oai:sure.sunderland.ac.uk:3557

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