Cost Management with Metrics of Specification


COSMOS - 2686

Keywords metrics, software process improvement, formal description methods, technology transfer, statistics, CASE tools


Start Date: 13-FEB-89 / Duration: 50 months

[ contact / participants ]


Objectives and Approach

The aim of COSMOS is to introduce metrics in the early specification and design phase of the software lifecycle. The basic concept is to monitor software attributes during development, from an early development phase onwards. This concept was further developed during the project and we found many similarities with Statistical Process Control (SPC); a well known industrial mechanism. We often referred to this as the COSMOS method (approach).

Concentrating on telecommunications systems, the consortium chose the formal specifications and design notations LOTOS, Z, and SDL as the products for the early phases. In the R&D workpackage the consortium extended the Fenton/Whitty theory of software primes into a more general solution, to be able to measure structures of these formal languages. As a result a decomposition and representation method was developed to translate such formal programs into prime structures. These structural primes are combined in a so called 'descriptor tree' by two operations; nesting and sequencing. Based on this descriptor technique a Metrics Definition Language (MDL) and core Metrics Tool (CMT) were developed which offer the possibility to easily defining new metrics.

Progress and Results

As COSMOS aimed at supporting engineers and their managers a special user interface was developed to show the structural system properties and to show the metrics results in graphical form. The Management Support Interface (MS) offers the engineer interactive development functionality windows like a system graph drawing window and a source code editing window. The manager and quality staff are offered bargraphs, scatterplots, fingerprints and tables to interactively show metrics of components, modules, programs and of whole projects.

In the observation studies workpackage the consortium worked on the introduction of the COSMOS tool and method in real industrial software development. These observation studies revealed many essential lessons about how to motivate people (organisations) to use metrics and how to arrive at real metrics results. Successful applications of metrics were realised and the COSMOS tool was integrated in different software environments. In many observation studies much attention had to be given at the motivation aspects. It proved very hard to introduce even a lean metrics approach in real life software projects. Much experience was gained in the observation study with general metrics aspects like ISO 9000, Humphrey's Capability Maturity Model and the Goal Question Metric approach. Results and experiences from observation studies are collated for publication in one of the major final deliverables of the COSMOS project.

The dissemination workpackage was used to create a wide awareness of quantitative management in software engineering. A dozen public workshops, seminars and a conference were given for engineers, statisticians, metrics experts and for top and middle management of software departments and consultants.

Exploitation

The Research Centre of Alcatel Austria has integrated COSMOS tools for measuring complexity in several software sites over Europe. The Software Engineering group of the Research Centre was largely increased during the COSMOS project and became heavily involved in metrics technology transfer towards many software sites of Alcatel over Europe. The COSMOS project played a major role in realising a metrics discipline in these areas.

British Telecom already had metrics experience at the start of the project, but improved its metrics know-how significantly. During the COSMOS project the metrics technology group of British Telecom in Martlesham Heath extended its role from metrics research into metrics research and technology transfer and today metrics are used as a regular management tool throughout British Telecom, in which parts of COSMOS are used.

TechForce released the COSMOS Metrics Workbench at the end of the project. They developed a phased approach for metrics technology transfer in a commercial environment. These phases comprise metrics courses for engineers and managers, a metrics analysis service and a product implementation phase. From the experience gained TechForce started to develop aside COSMOS a range of metrics tools and has already established an impressive list of clients for its metrics products and services.

Goldsmiths College will take on software metrics and statistics as a new area of study for the coming years.

Nijenrode University will continue to study management aspects in the field of software engineering.


CONTACT POINT

Mr Fred P. Hirdes
TECHFORCE BV
Niels Bohrweg 11-13
NL - 2333 CA LEIDEN
tel: + 31/ 71-218711
fax: + 31/ 71-213388
telex: 39085 ASTRO NL

Participants

TECHFORCE BV - NL - C
ALCATEL AUSTRIA - A - P
UNIVERSITY OF LONDON (GOLDSMITHS
COLLEGE) - UK - P
NIJENRODE UNIVERSITEIT VOOR
BEDRIJFSKUNDE - NL - P
TELEFONICA SISTEMAS SA - E - P
BRITISH TELECOMMUNICATIONS PLC - UK - P


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COSMOS - 2686, December 1993


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html version of synopsis by Nick Cook