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Software Total Ownership Cost: Development is Only Part of the Equation

Software/Hardware/Tools Track

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Software development is a costly, often schedule driven activity, prone to compromises to meet schedule. Many of these compromises have far reaching impacts on the cost of software maintenance, total ownership costs and software sustainability.

Maintenance itself is often treated as a level of effort activity where insufficient staff are asked to do too much and where a desired level or maintenance rigor is impossible to preserve. Unlike hardware, software doesn’t wear out but with inadequate maintenance it just becomes functionally less useful and less reliable over time.

This paper discusses maintenance productivity issues, maintenance metrics, methods of making the most appropriate tradeoffs during development keeping total ownership costs in mind, estimating total ownership costs so total ownership cost is managed rather than just arbitrary. SEER-SEM’s maintenance model will also be discussed in terms of how it determines proper levels of effort and where software degrades if inadequate staff levels are applied to it. Block changes will also be addressed including how to estimate them and how they interact with other level of effort maintenance.


Daniel Galorath
During his over three decades in the industry, Daniel D. Galorath has been solving a variety of management, costing, systems, and software problems for both information technology and embedded systems. He has performed all aspects of software development and software management. One of his strengths has been reorganizing troubled software projects, assessing their progress applying methodology and plans for completion and estimated cost to complete. He has personally managed some of these projects to successful completion. He has created and implemented software management policies, and reorganized (as well as designed and managed) development projects. His company, Galorath Incorporated, has developed tools, methods, and training for software cost, schedule, risk analysis, and management decision support. He is one of the principal developers of the SEER-SEM™ software evaluation model. His teaching experience includes development and presentation of courses in Software Cost, Schedule, and Risk Analysis; Software Management; Software Engineering; and Weapons Systems Architecture. Mr. Galorath has lectured internationally. Among Mr. Galorath’s published works are papers encompassing software cost modeling, testing theory, software life cycle error prediction and reduction, and software and systems requirements definition. Mr. Galorath was named winner of the 2001 International Society of Parametric Analysts (ISPA) Freiman Award, awarded to individuals who have made outstanding contributions to the theoretical or applied aspects of parametric modeling. Mr Galorath’s book “Software Sizing, Estimation, and Risk Management” was published March 2006.