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Software by Numbers: Low-Risk, High-Return Development Paperback

ISBN-13: 978-0131407282 ISBN-10: 0131407287 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Prentice Hall; 1 edition (October 18, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0131407287
  • ISBN-13: 978-0131407282
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 7 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #436,589 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

Software by Numbers is a significant new contribution to value-based, financially responsible software engineering...—Barry Boehm, Ph.D., Director, USC Center for Software Engineering, Creator of COCOMO and Spiral Model

Link software development to value creation and optimize ROI.

Ultimately, software development is about creating value—yet, all too often, software fails to deliver the business value customers need. This book will help you change that, by linking software development directly to value creation. You'll learn exactly how to identify which features add value and which don't—and refocus your entire development process on delivering more value, more rapidly.

Software by Numbers shows you how to:

  • Identify Minimum Marketable Features (MMFs)—the fundamental units of value in software development
  • Accelerate value delivery by linking iterative development to iterative funding
  • Optimize returns through incremental architecture techniques
  • Effectively involve business stakeholders in the development process
  • Sequence feature delivery based on "mini-ROI" assessments
  • Quantify financial risk at every step throughout the development process
  • Manage "intangibles" throughout the software development process

Whatever methodology you're already using—whether it's RUP or XP—this book shows how to achieve the goals that matter most to your business: reduced risk, better cash flow, and higher ROI.

About the Author

MARK DENNE is a Partner with consultancy firm Accenture, specializing in IT Transformation. He previously managed Sun Microsystems' Java Center in New York City leading architects working with financial services, media, and retail clients. He was Sun's chief architect for Citibank's financial services portal, voted the world's best online banking portal by Forbes and Yahoo! As head of software R&D for Computer Automation Europe, he invented the SABRE business-oriented 4GL.

DR. JANE CLELAND-HUANG is Assistant Professor at DePaul University's School of Computer Science, Telecommunications, and Information Systems, and Associate Director of DePaul's Institute for Software Engineering. Her research interests include process models, requirements engineering, and traceability. She currently teaches graduate and undergraduate courses at DePaul, supervises an active research program, and has published several papers in leading research journals.


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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Overall I liked the book, it is well written and easy to read.
Christopher J Matts
This book is an important work and should be read by IT executive management, project managers and software engineering managers.
Mike Tarrani
In the world of oversized- soft content books, this is a breath of fresh air.
J. F. Del Rossi

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Lasse Koskela on June 13, 2004
Format: Paperback
"Software by Numbers" is yet another book I would like any manager involved in my working life to read and re-read.
The authors describe an Incremental Funding Method (IFM) for scheduling incremental development of software which optimizes the Return on Investment (ROI) by having the requirements engineered into Minimum Marketable Features (MMF) with concrete, monetary value.
The book is very light (less than 200 pages) but packed with interesting material. I read most of the book during a flight from Finland to Germany and finished the book on my way home. Despite the minimal page count, the authors manage to explain why their method is desperately needed and how it fits to existing software processes such as RUP and XP. They also describe the business case for incremental architecture and different strategies for sequencing MMFs and Architectural Elements (AE) for maximum ROI over the project's lifetime.
The only downside I found for this book is that I would've needed some more baby-steps support for the actual calculations (sequence-adjusted net present values etc.). I'm sure others will be hoping to see some more real world examples of feature deconstruction and sequencing as well. On the other hand, I really appreciate the fact that the authors made the effort of putting up a spreadsheet online for supporting their method.
Overall, an excellent book. Highly recommended.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Stuart Charlton on December 2, 2004
Format: Paperback
This book hopefully is the atomic bomb that will destroy the remaining methodologies that insist on treating software development like a manufacturing process.

Software development is not manufacturing, nor is it construction, nor is it "just" engineering. It is precisely "development", as in product development. It is a mix of economics, science, art, engineering, and craft. It is "knowledge work", and therefore cannot be optimized by critical path analysis, scientific management techniques, or formal method compliance.

The above, however, is no excuse for a lack financial discipline and rigor in the business case. Most modern approaches have no concept of finances and costs, nor do they apply cost/benefits analysis to the ordering of features. This was to be the responsibility of the "customer", but sadly, they're as human as the developers, and are only familiar with the old tried-and-true WBS time/cost projections. Negotiated-scope contracts are only a partial solution to this problem. Many executives want to get an understanding of their discounted cash flow projections vs. "total spend" over an arbitrary period. They need to ensure they are achieving an appropriate return for the capital commitment.

This book's incremental funding method enables you to budget, sequence, risk-adjust, and NPV-optimize every marketable user story or bundle of use cases over a set period. It will enable you to ROI-justify your software architecture and evolve it instead of sinking costs into it up-front. It will show to non-technical executives the true benefits of agile development: faster time-to-revenue, projects that rapidly self-fund, quicker break-even points, and smaller up-front investments.

In short, this book is an indispensible means to sell the breakthrough productivity of agile methods.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 7, 2003
Format: Paperback
I picked up this book based on the recommendation of a collegue,and found the information invaluable. I work in a product-based IT organization, and these concepts are very helpful for mature product release planning and budgeting, which was a missing element at my company. I am not sure about the comments from the previous reviewer saying the book is based on a flawed premise that "you know the costs and time frame for development to a high degree of accuracy for every available option." It is explicitly stated in the book several times that estimation, not perfection, is the key and perfect-world scenarios don't exist. The authors even say that due to potential and probable changes in cost and time estimation, market conditions, etc. that one should revisit MMF sequencing at the start of each period anyway. Also, the website of the book, [...] explains about accurate projections in the FAQ section. Overall, a very useful tool!
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By D. G. Ewing on February 19, 2004
Format: Paperback
For the past five years I have been a consultant, helping companies analyze the link between the products they buy and the financial impact those products make on their businesses. During that time I've poured over numerous books on the subject of ROI and tried to make sense of them in the context of real world environments. Most books fail to make a contribution to real world problems because they are typically too academic, unrealistic or they are too vague.
However, I'm very impressed with this book.
This book clearly outlines an excellent, flexible methodology for real world technology resource management that MAXIMIZES BUSINESS IMPACT. It's different from other approaches I've seen in the past. I can tell from the authors' examples and analysis that there is a real synthesis between disciplined academic approach and real life project management. Even after five years of study, there were a lot of new ideas that I hadn't seen elsewhere.
I think this book applies to a wide audience within IT development. CIOs can gain a lot of ground from reading this book and instilling this approach across their organization. Technology managers who have come up the ranks from being smart technicians MUST read this book to take the leap from coder to business manager. Business analysts ought to read this book to optimize their tradeoff of features and functions versus resources.
I think that if my clients embraced the approach in this book, they'd see a lot of cash crunch problems disappear. I recommend it to all of them.
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