SEER software is a project management software application which is about algorithmic. SEER software has invested about two and a half decades of research. This software is designed to estimate, plan and also monitor the work required regarding to the maintenance project, or software development. SEER, this word is comes from the noun, which is referring to the ability to foresee the future, the parametric algorithms, knowledge bases, simulation-based probability, and historical precedents. These are allowed for project managers, engineers and cost analysts to estimate the project’s cost accurately. Other than that, it can help in estimate the risk and effort when a projects is going to start.
This software is helping a development to organise a better plan and it also helps to controls the costs, quality and also the duration to complete the work and also the risks during the project is conducting.
SEER software is produced and has many version for improvement of estimation. SEER software has many features that help project manager to estimate an projects such as sizing, analyse and produce a workflow.
The SEER software has many advantages that can help engineers and project managers to estimate the project. This software brings many advantages such as estimate the projects accurately, planning, and helps them when making the decisions confidently. However, SEER software also has some disadvantages that will increased the uncertainty and complexity.
SEER software has many advantages when compared to manual estimation. The advantages such as time, accuracy, effort and consistency can help in produce the estimation in time and efficiency.
2.0 History of SEER software
SEER Software is a project management software application designed specifically to estimate, resources required for any type of software development and maintenance project. SEER refers to the ability to look forward the future, relies on parametric algorithms, and knowledge bases to allow project managers, engineers, and cost analysts to accurately estimate a project’s cost schedule, risk and effort before the project is started.
2.1 History timeline
In 1966, System Development Corporation Model based on reversions is introduced. In 1980, Don Reifer and Dan Galorath paper encouraged the building of the JPL soft cost model. This model is an early example of software estimation which allows for automated and performed risk analysis. Soft cost was made a commercial product by Reifer Consultants. In year 1984, Jensen model existed. The Jensen-inspired System-3, and other modelling systems like Barry Boehm’s COCOMO and early works by the Doty Associates as contributors direct and indirectly to the software set that would be established by Galorath in the late 1980s.
2.2 Version 1.0
In 1988, Galorath Incorporated began work on the early version of SEER-SEM which resulted in 22,000 lines of code. SEER-SEM version 1.0 was released on 13 5.25″ floppy disks and was an initial product on Windows version 2. However, Designing SEER-SEM for Windows has risky as the operating system had yet to found itself as a contestant to the current dominant OS, which is Microsoft’s MS-DOS. The acceptance of a Windows-based format proved to be worthwhile, allowing SEER-SEM to offer a much more intuitive user interface than would have otherwise been available in MS-DOS. Galorath chose Windows due to the ability to provide more graphical user environment, allowing more robust management tradeoffs and understanding of that initial release in 1988, SEER has experienced numerous upgrades, keeping up with varying technology, adapting to better meet the needs of the customer, and altering the model to achieve more precise estimates. In 1994, release of SEER-SEM version 4 included major enhancements to the core math behind the model, handling the realities of projects rather than just a drives software projects.
2.3 Next Versions
Since Rayleigh curve approximation, more knowledge bases and the latest research in software science. In 2003, new structures have added like Goal Setting and also Risk Tuning. Both features operated as their names suggest with Risk Analysis agreeing to make changes to estimates and Goal Setting letting for projects to not only be estimated. Version 6 of SEER for Software was the first to agree both input and output over many Microsoft products, such as Excel. Version 7 involved better handling of projects that give beyond their optimal strength.
2.4 Current Version
SEER for Software Version 7.3 is a large upgrading over the original application, could be included to support all stages of a project’s lifecycle. The scope of the software has grown to over 200,000 source lines of code and removed from simply a means to make work estimates through parametric modelling to a system that buttresses those results with simulation-based probability and over 20,000 historical cases to draw conclusions from.
The original SEER-SEM has also branched into:
1. SEER for Information Technology (SEER-IT) – Estimation of the design and maintenance of infrastructures and service management projects.
2. SEER for Hardware, Electronics, & Systems (SEER-H) –To help in the cost estimation in life cycle of any type of hardware, electronics or system.
3. SEER for Manufacturing (SEER-MFG) – For or estimating the detailed production costs of manufacture, cover a wide range of state of practice and state of the art manufacturing procedure knowledge.
4. SEER for Software –Including aerospace giants, finance, banking, retail, and manufacturing. Users contain Bank of America, Northrop Grumman, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, and Atmospheric Administration, and the US Department of Defences.
3.0 Technical features of SEER
3.1 Estimation scope and methodology
It includes developing high-level system requirements. The example such as coding and testing, maintaining and supporting the applications (also can be known as Full life cycle Estimation).
Full life cycle Estimation:
Maintenance can estimates evaluate growth, change, any defects and also costs for adaptive, preventive, and perfective maintenance and enhancements.
For project estimates, the information needed are behavioural models, project histories, data models, and parametric. All data estimated confidently with information available. Work breakdown structure estimates system in one element and break it down to logical modules and into detailed components. Elements can be defined hierarchically way that which s suitable to the project, define level of indenture, and define summation points. Elements can have different parameter settings, different sizing (Function Points, Source Lines of Code, Story Points) and Unique staff loading/profile.
The Work Breakdown Structure:
Rough order of magnitude (ROM) created by using default values which prevent the need for users to adjust parameters. Users can customize each parameter based on historical data from organization’s previous projects, environment data, and requirements. Built-In Monte Carlo Risk Analysis risk analysis estimates built into the estimation process. Parameter inputs are expressed as ranges (from least, likely, and most expected values), produce estimate ranges for important parameters like schedule, effort, number of defects, by using the robust Monte Carlo simulation tools.
3.2 Sizing software projects
SEER for Software can supports logical and physical sizing methods, Traditional source lines of code (SLOC) and function points, ISO standard function size metrics such as IFPUG, Technology-specific metrics such as RICEF components for SAP projects and ETL components for data warehousing projects, story points, and use cases.
Essentially, it be used within the model further refine the estimate including project constraints such as staffing limitations and schedule requirements. Function based sizing, SEER for Software contains a different sizing method designed to make the process easier. Function Based Sizing uses the main IFPUG function categories, decomposed into simple functions such as number of input screens, printed reports, and menus. It lets us organize the inputs in a coherent, and straightforward language.
Effective sizing is mix size methods within the same project and within a single WBS element. It uses different development methods such as Agile and Waterfall in the same model. This common measure provides the continuity required to obtain a common productivity measure.
· Estimate by Comparison—defining a software scope through some project analogies and compare to own repository of past projects in the SEER Historical data base or to ISBG projects.
· Analogy Based Sizing—from completed projects and gives you the ability to allocate the calculated size into both new and pre-existing categories of size. SEER will compute size based on the selected projects’ size, and then enter that size in the work element.
3.3 Third party integrations
Microsoft Project Integration:
SEER for Software automatically builds a complete project plan from any SEER for estimate. Because of solid combination with Microsoft Project, existing SEER can be converted for Software estimate into a detailed, task oriented project plan in Microsoft Project.
Open API and COM interface linking:
Galorath is a Microsoft Gold Partner and all SEER products are companionable with the Microsoft Office suite. The API is well-documented and available in either a file-based or automation interface. Because of its open APIs and the COM (Component Object Model) interface, you can export results to a variety of third-party applications or export to programs such as Microsoft Excel to create unique reports for your organization.
Integration with risk estimation tools:
SEER supports combinations with Oracle Primavera P6, Oracle Crystal Ball, and Palisade.
Integration with ISBSG (International Software Benchmarking Standards Group) dataset:
The optional integration with the ISBSG database gives you immediate access to an open source of thousands of software projects. ISBG data analyse individual data points, aggregate data, and benchmark project’s performance versus industry data.
3.4 Analysing and reporting results
Metrics Analysis and Benchmarking:
Estimates and trends in graphical formats are produced by benchmarking. Filtering project histories to include only the most relevant project.
Project Monitoring and Control:
The optional Project Monitoring and Control features will identify which projects are not performing and help identify causes, timely course correction. Project progress (planned versus actual) can be described in four areas which are Activity completion, expenditures, growth and defect discovery and removal.
Standard reporting and charting tools:
Several of standard reports and charts can understand easily and to data can be explained, including the size, activity and labour distributions, technology assessment, risk analysis and others. The graph is plots against historical data, perform trade off analysis within the model, compare and contrast the solution.
Create custom reports:
Flexible Export feature is used to create customer reports from the inputs and outputs generated by SEER for Software.
Independent Crosscheck and Verification:
Optional capability for organizations that require self-determining oversight.
3.5 Collaboration and workflow
Enterprise Shared Database:
Related database that stores estimates in a secure repository. Estimates can be maintained with revisions, locking, and version control. Granting access can also share to individuals or groups. Access controls including read, write, and viewing permissions and set up multiple databases.
Configurable Estimate Attributes:
Specific information can added to each attribute in an estimate which is follow organization’s process. This is for estimates by using any combination of attributes, data can be found easily using the specific attribute information which is provided and included.
4.0 Advantages and disadvantage
SEER software has many advantages that can help to enhance the process and estimate the projects requirement more accurately.
The advantages of SEER software are the following:
Step-by-step and systematic methodologies
Create credible estimates
Improve the estimates, accuracy
Establish the projects from early stage until completion
Reduce the time and effort
Reduce the dependence on the manual estimation
Help in making the decision confidently
Use easily and understand by technical and non-technical people
SEER software has the program which is step-by-step and systematic methodologies. Because of these features, it can help to calculate and estimate the projects step-by-step, so there is no any estimations can be overlooked and the estimations can be calculated in a correct way. The correct methods are needed to create accurate estimations without giving any wrong values.
With the systematic SEER software, project managers can estimate the projects which are credible according to the information provided. The information such as the type of project, which industry, the scope or any development technique. It can estimate the projects depend on how much or less information have. From here, engineers can know the estimation in advance with the information provided and make an informed decision.
Other than that, SEER software can improve the accuracy and reliability of the project’s estimation. This software includes the analysation of multiple and complex factors forecast the outcomes from real-world. The cost, schedule, effort, reliability, and risk can be calculated. From here, key factors are identified so it can estimate the projects and schedule. From the analysis, SEER software will help in identifying the factors that can affect the projects’ cost and effort. The accuracy of the project also needs to predict from time to time. The accuracy will always update depends on the extensive knowledge bases of software development data, the application of projects. To improve the accuracy, key factors need to be identified to estimate the projects easily and systematically, so the cost and schedule can be analysed.
Since SEER software has the system which is step-by-step, thus this software can estimate the projects from earlier stages of a project until the completion of the project by monitoring the projects and the correction during the process of projects. Therefore, this software can establish the realistic, life-cycle or the schedule of the projects and the historical data for analyzation. From here, projects managers can analyse the cost accurately and the engineer can manage the cost, labor, schedule, and risk of the whole projects. With the management of the projects, the performance can be monitored to ensure the project always stays on schedule and within budget. SEER software will provide the monitoring and calculation method for estimating technique, thus managers can track the project via software.
Not only that, a project manager can reduce time and effort during estimate a project if a proper method is used. A proper method can help to estimate the project step-by-step and systematically without any neglect values. Therefore, it also can avoid from manual estimation, from here, the time can be reduced to produce an accurate value in the shortest time. It can prevent over-committed, inconsistent, or overly optimistic occurred.
SEER software can help in making the decision wisely with the planned successful project. It can help managers and engineers to make the best decision confidently. During estimate a project, many situations needed to be considered such as hidden risks, failures, financial problem. These can affect a project. With the information provided, the decision can be made to reducing the risks, failures and increase the profit.
Besides that, the SEER models are easy to use because both technical and non-technical people can understand how to use and technical support is provided with each product license.
No matter how a software has many advantages is, SEER software also has some disadvantages. One of the disadvantages is the lack of flexibility in algorithmic models when adapting to new circumstances. The methodologies and techniques always change because of the rapid change in business. The methodologies such as development methodologies, technology and tools will changed and hence, the algorithmic models can be quickly outdated.
Other than that, the algorithmic models has strong collinearity among parameters and the complex non-linear relationships between the outputs and contributing factors. SEER software needs to insert 50 parameters to calculate the projects and it will increased the complexity and uncertainty.
5.0 Comparison between Using Manual and Software Estimation
In some cases, the final result from estimation software is not the result that investors or clients want to know. Therefore, it would cause some barriers and problems for using an estimation software compare to manual estimation. Manual estimation is still widely practicing in many countries because it is the reliable traditional method. Software is then created to help the estimators. Thus, actually both methods have their own characteristics and specialty for applying on different situation since some clients may feel that their situation is too special to be estimated. Table below shows the comparison between manual and software estimation in terms of time, quality and cost.
Takes longer time
People needs to have longer time to complete the estimation since database is not exists. Calculation of each element is needed to be done manually one by one and sometimes human error may occur.
High efficiency and save time
It can reduce occurrences of human error and alleviate manual entry of tasks.
It takes time and patience
Those who new to the software might need to spend more time learning on it.
May produce poor result
Due to underestimation based on technical optimism and overestimation to ensure the estimator does not overrun.
Formula errors data entry remains tedious and prone to error, formula errors are common, and collaboration and information sharing are limited.
Comparing similar projects, drawing up timeframes and cost-cutting measures based on past builds are other revolutionary features.
Contractor can determine labour costs, volume of materials needed, and the overall selling price accurately and quicker by using auto estimation.
Requires less cost
No need to buy other extra technology and applications during estimating process. Payment for labour costs is needed only.
Not cheap but worth it
Definitely it is not cheap, it can cost from a few hundred dollars up to thousand dollars. But the investment on software will be worth it in the end.
After studying on the advantages and disadvantages of SEER software estimation, it is better for us to choose that which type of estimation is suitable and useful in different situation and condition, either software or manual method. Manual and software both have their pros and cons. Some types of estimation method we are not able to apply in all conditions. Therefore, by making a right decision can really save a lot of time and give better and optimum results as well.
Capers Jones, a specialist in software engineering has done a research and it shows that when an estimate under 1000 function points a manual estimate is acceptable. Unfortunately, even in some cases when the estimate is done correct manually, but still it is not repeatable when it is done manually.
There is no shortcut or quick way that will immediately make us as a normal human being become a professional estimators or a good user of estimates. Therefore, we all have to go through all processes of estimating, learn from mistakes and make improvement on it.