e-Talk Radio: Paul Hopkins, November 2000


alluded to, that you mentioned before, is the concept of function points, which is one of the things that Quality Plus Technologies came in and actually provided expertise to your company, and being able to set up, run a function point program. And maybe you can…I could explain it, but I'd rather have you kind of take a look, tell our listeners, what are function points, what could they deliver as part of a…as measuring software?

Paul: Okay, sure. Function points, for those that aren't aware of that, in a very quick layman term, it is really just measuring the size of an application. In the past, we used to look at lines of code, for example. But in today's world, where technology is changing so rapidly, you need a measure that will help you understand the size of an application, independent of technology or changes within the industry. The function point, Carol, in and of itself, does nothing but tell you the size of an application. So for example, it could be 100 function points is the size of an application. When you put time measures, if you put time across that or dollars, then you can start calculating dollars per function point, hours per function point. And what was necessary for us was to gather and collect a quick baseline of our portfolio. How many applications, and of those applications, what was the size of our function points? And you alluded…Your company actually came in and helped us do this in a very quick turnaround, that allowed me to catapult this program and its process into the first of the year. Helped us through one of our busiest seasons as we were getting Y2K efforts as well. So that was a great help.

Carol: So what you were after was the size of all of the software that you had in your portfolio, which I kind of liken to how big was your village in square feet?

Paul: Correct.

Carol: How big were you supporting, how big was this thing, at a point in time, how big was it becoming? What were the renovation projects that you were working on? And one of the articles that a colleague and I just finished writing was basically what's the difference between lines of code and function points. And function points are like the square feet for software that reflect really what you're going to build, as opposed to lines of code kind of being the components, or number of boards, or something like that.

Paul: That's right. And imagine all the general contractors trying to come in and redecorate or enhance your house, and you're not really having a clear picture of how big it is to start with. If you don't have the function point piece.

Carol: Right.

Paul: So that basically jump-started our measurement program. And once I'd done that, then I was able to add quite a lot of metrics around that - quality metrics, financial metrics, including cost per function point, cost per function point to develop an enhancement, those types of things. Which allowed me to then start building prioritization, functionality delivered to a business became a priority.

Carol: So you could take a look at, say, three projects that you had on your list to do, and you could say, typically, you know, if you've got a list, people will say, well, mine's the most important. You've got to work on mine because I'm the VP, or I'm the chief of staff, or…Work on mine, because I really want mine. And, were you able

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