This Article 
 Bibliographic References 
 Add to: 
Software Project Control: An Experimental Investigation of Judgment with Fallible Information
June 1993 (vol. 19 no. 6)
pp. 603-612

Software project management is becoming an increasingly critical task in many organizations. While the macro-level aspects of project planning and control have been addressed extensively, there is a serious lack of research on the micro-empirical analysis of individual decision making behavior. The heuristics deployed to cope with the problems of poor estimation and poor visibility that hamper software project planning and control are investigated, and the implications for software project management are examined. A laboratory experiment in which subjects managed a simulated software development project is reviewed. The subjects were given project status information at different stages of the lifecycle and had to assess software productivity in order to dynamically readjust project plans. A conservative anchoring and adjustment heuristic is shown to explain the subjects' decisions quite well. Implications for software project planning and control are presented.

[1] T. K. Abdel-Hamid and S. E. Madnick,Software Project Dynamics: An Integrated Approach. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1991.
[2] R. N. Anthony and J. Dearden,Management Control Systems. Chicago, IL: Richard D. Irwin, Inc., 1980.
[3] A. O. Awani,Data Processing Project Management. Princeton, NJ: Petrocelli, 1986.
[4] K. L. Bettenhausen, "Five years of group research: What we have learned and what needs to be addressed,"J. Management, vol. 17, no. 2, pp. 345-381, 1991.
[5] B. W. Boehm,Software Engineering Economics. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1981.
[6] Brooks, Jr., Frederick P. 1987. "No Silver Bullet: Essence and Accidents of Software Engineering."IEEE Computer, April, pp. 10-19.
[7] Committee on Governement Operations, "DoD automated information systems experience runaway costs and years of schedule delays while providing little capability." U.S. House of Representatives, Rep. 101-382, Nov. 20, 1989.
[8] J. Cooper, "Software development management planning,"IEEE Trans. Software Eng., vol. SE-10, no. 1, pp. 22-26, Jan. 1984.
[9] T. DeMarco,Controlling Software Projects. New York: Yourdon, 1982.
[10] W. Edwards, "Conservatism in human information processing," inFormal Representation of Human Judgment, B. Kleinmuntz, Ed. New York, Wiley, 1968.
[11] M. Genuchten and H. Koolen, "On the use of software cost models,"Inform. and Management, vol. 21, pp. 37-44, 1991.
[12] R. Hogarth, "Beyond discrete biases: Functional and dysfunctional aspects of judgmental heuristics,"Psychological Bull., vol. 90, no. 2, pp. 197-217, 1981.
[13] B. Kitchenham and N. Taylor, "Software project development cost estimation,"J. Syst. and Software, vol. 5, pp. 267-278, 1985.
[14] N. R. Howes, "Managing software development projects for maximum productivity,"IEEE Trans. Software Eng., vol. SE-10, no. 1, pp. 27-35, Jan. 1984.
[15] J. H. Lehman, "How software projects are really managed,"Datamation, pp. 119-129, Jan. 1979.
[16] S. A. LaTour and P. W. Miniard, "The misuse of repeated measures analysis in marketing research,"J. Marketing Res., vol. XX, pp. 45-57, Feb. 1983.
[17] H.D. Mills,Software Productivity. Canada: Little, Brown&Co., 1983.
[18] H. D. Mills, "Software engineering: Retrospect and prospect," inProc. Twelvth Annu. Int. Comput. Software and Appl. Con. (COMPSAC), Oct. 5-7, 1988, pp. 89-96.
[19] U. W. Pooch and P. F. Gehring, "Toward a management philosophy for software development," inAdvances in Computer Programming Management, T. A. Rullo, Ed. Philadelphia, PA: Heyden, 1980.
[20] W. E. Remus, "Graduate students as surrogates for managers in experiments on business decision making,"J. Business Res., vol. 14, pp. 19-25, 1986.
[21] P. Rook, "Controlling software projects,"Software Eng. J., Jan. 1986.
[22] SAS/STAT,Guide for Personal Computers, Version 6. Cary, NC: SAS 1987.
[23] I. D. Steiner,Group Process and Productivity. New York: Academic, 1972.
[24] A. Tversky and D. Kahneman, "Judgement under uncertainty: Heuristics and biases,"Science, vol. 185, no. 27, pp. 1124-1131, Sept. 1974.
[25] B. J. Winer, Statistical Principles in Experimental Design. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1971.
[26] C. Wrigley and A. Dexter, "Software development estimation models: A review and critique," inProc. ASAC Conf., Univ. Toronto, 1987.
[27] R.W. Zmud, "Management of large software development efforts,"MIS Quarterly, vol. 4, no. 2, pp. 45-56, June 1980.
[28] A. J. Mackinnon and A. J. Wearing, "Feedback and the forecasting of exponential change,"Acta Psychologica, vol. 76, pp. 177-191, 1991.

Index Terms:
macro-level aspects; micro-empirical analysis; software project planning; software project management; laboratory experiment; simulated software development project; software productivity; project management; software engineering
T.K. Abdel-Hamid, K. Sengupta, D. Ronan, "Software Project Control: An Experimental Investigation of Judgment with Fallible Information," IEEE Transactions on Software Engineering, vol. 19, no. 6, pp. 603-612, June 1993, doi:10.1109/32.232025
Usage of this product signifies your acceptance of the Terms of Use.