Two By Four


In the real estate business they use comps to price a house for sale. If the house next door sold for $300,000 and the house across the street sold for $350,000.  Then this data is used as a starting point for your home.  In the IT business we use thousand lines of code (KLOCS).  If you think about this it would be like pricing your home by the number of 2 X 4s used.  We are not saying this metric has no value, 2 X 4s can point to the size of the home. KLOCS is an indicator of the size of a software project.  They are just not very good indicators by themselves. 

Function points work a little better than KLOCS in that they are like the number of bedrooms, bathrooms, and other rooms.  There has been much work done to make function points a useful standard including assigning complexity models and weights. However, function points more often than not they are a simple replacement for lines of code. So, how many lines of code does it take to create a bathroom?  This equation then becomes the function points for a bathroom.  In addition, function points only work on developing software and are not very useful for the other aspects of an IT project, such as integration and implementation.

The Standish Group uses KLOCS and function points when appropriate for the right type of project.  However, in many cases these elements are not relevant such as for a package or COTS implementation.  In today’s environment very few projects are pure development using traditional methods.  Many projects are hybrids with off-the-shelf components, cloud services, and existing applications.  Using KLOCS and function points for these types of projects gets very tricky very fast. It is difficult to apply consistently across the board without having a holistic method.  That is why we use comparative projects and role models to develop our Stanmets.

When you think of Stanmets, think of it like pricing your home.  For your home you  look at when comparable houses sold and the general market movement.  You would look at the number of bedrooms, bathrooms, land, and all other conditions of home.  You would look at the quality of construction and appliances.  You most importantly look at the location. You would look at the whole home to make up your mind how to price your home.  The Standish Adjudicator assigns Stanmets by looking at the whole project profile with the 25 basic elements, which includes skills, types, methodologies, industries, and maturity levels. We have over 100,000 projects as comps.


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Subject Matter

Project Management Expertise

About the Author:


Jim Johnson

Jim Johnson is chairman of The Standish Group. He has been professionally involved in the computer industry for over 40 years and has a long list of published books, papers, articles and speeches. He has a combination of technical, marketing, and research achievements focused on mission-critical applications and technology. He is best known for his research on project performance and early recognizing technology trends. Jim is a pioneer of modern research techniques and continues to advance in the research industry through case-based analytical technology.

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