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What is your AD effort worth?

In recent years in U.S. businesses, application development has become far more effective, and a lot less expensive, said Robert Solon, research director at the Gartner Measurement practice, speaking last week at Gartner Group's Application Development Summit 2002 in Orlando, Fla.

''We were almost half as expensive in 2001 as in 1993. This is very interesting news. We're always told we're spending too much,'' said Solon.

Solon estimates that cost of development per function point (FP) has declined from $390/FP in 1993 to $254/FP in 2001. This is a substantial improvement, especially when factoring in inflation. The year 2000 bug-fix effort did run counter to the prevailing cost reduction trend, but that trend has continued since 2000.

[Note: Function points, as described by the International Function Point Users' Group, establish a numeric index according to type and complexity. These indexes are totaled to give an initial measure of size, which is then normalized by incorporating factors relating to the software as a whole, to measure the overall size and complexity of software product.]

''Application development has controlled costs, especially in support,'' said Solon. While Gartner has good evidence to back up this assertion, Solon admits that AD managers will still get plenty of cost pressures in days to come.

Solon added that AD must measure itself in order to merge with its business-unit sponsors. He advised managers to integrate key performance indicators into their performance management systems. And while Solon urged development leaders to contribute to corporate efforts to measure the benefits of AD to the business, he cautioned that such ''Return on Investment'' (ROI) questions can only be answered if the business side is truly ready to try and measure business benefit.

Agenda for Gartner Group Application Development Summit 2003 - Sept 18-20, 2002, Orlando, Fla. http://www3.gartner.com/2_events/conferences/ad4/ad4_1.jsp

The International Function Point Users Group http://www.ifpug.org/default.htm

About the Author

Jack Vaughan is former Editor-at-Large at Application Development Trends magazine.

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