The mission of the International Cost Estimating and Analysis Association (ICEAA) is to promote and enhance the profession of cost estimation and analysis for systems engineering and has been successful in that for more than 10 years. An area that is often part of system engineering but that requires specific attention is the IT market and software projects. Why is this important? Software projects fail for several reasons but mainly due to unrealistic expectations and lack of planning and control. The trend to Agile, changes the approach for controlling software projects but still there is a need for professional Cost Estimation to determine the initial budget for management, as well as to determine the achievable scope of a next sprint or increment within the available budget. Cost estimation provides the vital link between required costs/resources, schedule and product value, which are the foundation of project planning but also the basis to control delivery at both the project team and management levels. To support the profession of cost estimation for IT and software projects, ICEAA started a new initiative named ICEAA SW.
The value of Cost Estimation
One of the key roles of an IT manager is to make decisions and deliver the required needs and business value within the available budget. To make informed decisions, the manager needs the appropriate level of information. For a software project, the required information consists of the scope (although not detailed yet), the budget (for a next iteration) and the duration.
The Cost Estimator is the professional who can provide this information in cooperation with a Solution Architect who understands the solution and the Project Manager who understands the delivery approach. Having a professional for the Cost Estimator role ensures that cost estimates become more structured and understandable, more realistic and credible, and the delivery of expected scope and time-frame more predictable.
The question that comes up regularly is: “Does this mean additional overhead?” The answer is: “No.” A software delivery team already performs most of the required activities and provides the required information. But because it’s not professionalized, the information is often not a sound basis for decision making. The delivery team remains responsible for the estimate but the Cost Estimator manages the estimation process like a Project Manager or Scrum Master manages the delivery or a Solution Architect manages the solution architecting process.
To make cost estimation a more mature discipline in IT organizations, ICEAA and Nesma started a new initiative called ICEAA Software. ICEAA SW is a Special Interest Group (SIG) with a special status; the SIG has its own Board and will focus on all continents starting with North America, Europe and Asia. ICEAA SW will work closely with ICEAA, Nesma and other organizations that are relevant to professionalize Cost Estimation for IT and software.
ICEAA SW developed and promotes the Cost Estimation Body of Knowledge – Software (CEBOK – S) and will roll-out the first Certification for Professional Software Cost Estimator Analysts. CEBOK – S encapsulates existing international standards and best practices while providing a sound basis for training and certification for professional Software Cost Estimator Analysts. Anyone interested in the certification can study CEBOK-S, take the online exam, and become certified.
The SIG will organize working groups to share knowledge, expertise and create supporting materials, as well as providing training, organize (online) events/webinars to create awareness with respect to Cost Estimation for IT and Software projects. ICEAA SW is a community for professional IT and Software Cost Estimators and for anyone interested in this topic.
The ICEAA SW SIG will work with experts across the world within working groups to advance the profession of Cost Estimation through the steady enhancement of CEBOK-S.
The value of ICEAA SW
What is the value of the ICEAA SW for your organization? If you’re in an executive management role, professional cost estimation will result in more realistic budgets, resource requirements and achievable project plans which will increase your control of the delivery of software projects. If you’re part of a software development team, ICEAA SW will help to make the cost estimation processes more efficient and effective based on metrics. Project decisions considering cost as a key variable will make achieving business objectives and delivering business value much more likely.
ICEAA SW is not only relevant for the professional Software Cost Estimator, but also for Solution Architects, Project Managers, Scrum Masters, Release Train Engineers, Product Managers and IT managers depending on budgets and costs in their daily lives.
Status and next step
Cost Estimation for IT and Software Projects is not yet on the level that is required for a professional IT engineering discipline. ICEAA SW is set-up to provide the required knowledge, expertise, training and certification to bring this profession to the next level leading to more efficient, more predictable and less development waste in software projects.
Our next step will be the creation of working groups on specialized topics within the SIG. Would you like to become a member of the ICEAA SW SIG or a Working Group and participate in this new initiative? All members of ICEAA and Nesma are invited to join the SIG. Simply check the websites of ICEAA or Nesma for more information and join today!