The COSMIC method of software sizing and its uses in managing and estimating software activities

Thursday 12 April 2018, 6.00pm - 9.30pm

BCS, 1st Floor, The Davidson Building, 5 Southampton Street, London, WC2E 7HA | Maps
The nearest underground stations are Covent Garden and Charing Cross.


Charles Symons


If you want to understand the performance (productivity, speed and product quality) of software development and maintenance activities, then you need to measure a size of the work-input (effort or time) and of the work-output. When measured sizes of the work-output are based only on the software's requirements, so that sizes are independent of the technologies used, you can compare performance across different groups and technologies and can establish performance benchmarks. And if you can estimate a size of some new software from its requirements early in its life, you can use these data to estimate the development effort. And if you can track the size of software as it is developed this is a valuable means of project control and limiting 'scope creep'.

The ISO-standard 'COSMIC' method of measuring a software size meets all these needs. The method is based on fundamental software engineering principles and is applicable to business, real-time and infrastructure software, at any level of decomposition from whole systems to major or minor components. Studies show that COSMIC-measured sizes correlate very well with effort for software in all these domains, and far better than do e.g. Story Points for agile iterations, or traditional 'Function Point' size measurements.

COSMIC (the Common Software Measurement International Consortium) is a voluntary, 'open' organization of software metrics experts from around the world (see Charles Symons' talk will cover an introduction to the method and show how it is being used to control price/performance in software contracts, and for estimating, etc. He will also discuss the state of the art on automated size measurement from natural language requirements, designs, and code.

About the speaker:

Charles SymonsCharles Symons has well over 50 years' experience in the use of computers for business and scientific purposes, in both public and private sectors, in all the major disciplines of the Information Systems function. He has published original work in computer use accounting, data analysis, computer security, and software measurement and estimating. As a partner with KPMG Management Consulting, he led projects in many parts of the world to develop business-led IS/IT strategies and to improve the performance of the IS function, including using outsourced suppliers.

His interest in software project performance measurement, project estimating and benchmarking began in the 1980's when he developed methods which were adopted for use in UK Government computing. He is now semi-retired but in 1998 he co-founded COSMIC, the Common Software Measurement International Consortium. He has led the development of the COSMIC method for sizing software since the early days. Charles draws on this experience to evaluate and comment on the performance of the software industry and to advocate methods by which software system customers can control and improve their suppliers' performance.


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