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Designing estimation models for Unisys India

Nelissen, Mats (2011) Designing estimation models for Unisys India.

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Abstract:Software testing is one of Unisys’ core services. For both internal and external clients, Unisys often resorts to one of its locations in India: the Purva location in Bangalore. The expertise, combined with the low cost of labor in India together result in a very competitive service offered. One of the issues that is important when considering outsourcing to India is the total cost. Currently, cost estimations are done manually, by people who have been leading testing teams for multiple years. They resort to their years of knowledge to give a first indication of the required resources: both time and money. Should more accurate estimates be necessary, they break down the project in smaller pieces, and again use their expertise to make an estimation. Although these estimates can be very accurate (less than 5% deviation), depending on the time available they do require up to two weeks to be made. That means that people in the sales team do not have quick access to such estimates. Also, small changes in requirements may require reviews by the team leaders, resulting in another few days lost. This research is focused on tackling this issue, by providing estimation metrics in excel form, which anyone at Unisys can use to make a correct effort estimation. Because the model will lack personal interaction and expertise, it is likely the model will not realize the same error margin. UGSI management has set the acceptable error margin at 20%, the value they normally use for budgetary estimations. The central research question follows: How can a model describe the costs and time the testing function in Unisys’ Purva location, Bangalore requires to complete any testing project within 20 percent of the actual costs? During the research we identified many different characteristics of software tests, that all have been considered when the model was built. We started by making a version of the model which allows for very specific data entry, namely per test case specific information. This level of detail is usually only available once the managers have made a detailed project management plan. The model translates input into Test Case Points (TCPS), before translating TCPs into effort and US dollars. One TCP is defined to require 1.875 minutes of work, but this may differ slightly from person to person. Because all projects can be translated into TCPs, Unisys now has a tool which allows cross project comparison of their employees. Earlier it may have been hard to find hard evidence of someone performing far below the acceptable line. Now, with these newly introduced TCPs it will be very simple. Once this detailed version of the model was operational, work started on establishing a baseline. This is a very important step, required to ensure the model is as accurate as possible. Although the results cannot be guaranteed, at times they are known to be within 3.5% range, which is nearly as good as the manual estimations. The next step was to make tailored versions of the model, which require far less input. This will of course sacrifice some accuracy, but this will enable the sales team to respond to client requests very quickly. Two versions have been made: Scenario based input when some detail is available, and Requirements based input, when there is practically no knowledge of the project at all. Depending on the situation, either one can be used by the sales team. To ensure that the models can be used by people who may have less knowledge about software testing, such as the sales team, a detailed manual has been created to go with the model. In this manual every aspect of the model is explained, ensuring the easy usability that is vital for the successful implementation. To further increase the chances of this research being installed in Unisys future daily operations, a small training session has been given to all the team leaders that will use it. They will share this knowledge with all people who may need to resort to it in the future. At the start of this research, the only focus was creating estimation models. However, over time more ideas were generated that could be of great value to Unisys India. One of those ideas was to integrate these newly created models with other currently existing reports. This will not only enhance Unisys ability to reply quickly to customer requests, it will also give Unisys better insight in its own available resources. We have added a secondary research question to address this idea. How can the newly created models, together with existing forecasting reports, be combined into a dashboard overview which provides forecasting figures related to manpower? This additional model is now known as the Supply Dashboard, and is dependant of mulitple weekly and montly reports and forecasts. It combines these files into a clear dashboard overview in which management can quickly see the size of Unisys’ task force for the next six months. Moreover, it also displays the estimated people required per month, a bench percentage, and gap figures between availability and requirements. Based on this Supply Dashboard Unisys may decide to approve or reject projects, and whether the current taskforce size at any point in time needs to be influenced.
Item Type:Essay (Bachelor)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:85 business administration, organizational science
Programme:Business Administration BSc (56834)
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