2.9. Improving effort management in software development projects

Public examination of a doctoral dissertation in the field of computer science

Doctoral candidate: Licentiate in Philosophy Topi Haapio  

Date and venue: 2.9.2011 at 12 noon, Auditorium, Tietoteknia, Kuopio campus  


A software supplier organization strives to estimate the effort needed in building software as accurately as possible to ensure the project’s budget and schedules, and the success of resource allocation. Despite the numerous effort estimation approaches and applications available, the estimates have remained inaccurate. The objective of this thesis is to improve the management practices of software development project effort, resulting in increased effort estimate accuracy. 

In the quest of its goal, the thesis commences by presenting the theoretical background and the key concepts related to software project effort management, followed with a description of the iterative research approach. The research problems are formulated based on the organizational problems acknowledged in the software engineering literature and the ones observed at the research site, Tieto Finland Oy. To address the research problems, research artifacts are built and evaluated with the constructive research methodology. 

The results are presented in five research papers. The main research results include frameworks for both improving and managing software project effort, a defined new set of project activities and their significance in terms of project effort, recommendations for adopting new project activities in an efficient manner, a process and method for effort assessments, and findings from a software project effort data mining experiment. 

This thesis focuses on an activity set of general software project activities, referred as the non-construction activities, which are found to be one of the major software project activity categories besides software construction and project management. This finding is complemented with recommendations for efficient adoption of new project activities and set of activities. By improving the adoption mechanisms of new project activities it is more likely that effort is registered on correct activities, which ensures reliable effort input for effort assessments. The assessment results are improved with the stepwise software project effort assessment method introduced in this thesis. When applied, the research results aim to improve the quality of effort data, which can then be utilized in the effort estimation method calibration in order to achieve more accurate estimates. 

The research findings and constructed artifacts are beneficial for project managers and effort analysts who can better manage their effort-related project activities through-out project’s lifecycle. 

The doctoral dissertation of Topi Haapio entitled “Improving effort management in software development projects” will be examined at the Faculty of Science and Forestry. The opponent in the public examination is Professor Matti Rossi, Aalto University and the custos is Professor Jarmo J. Ahonen of the University of Eastern Finland.

Photo available for download at http://www.uef.fi/vaitoskuvat

Contact:, Topi Haapio, tel. +358 40 769 4617, topi.haapio@tieto.com

Publishing year: 2011

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