Project managers get a hand

KnowledgePlan 2.0 from Software Productivity Research of Burlington, Mass., measures
three variables in software development--cost, quality and schedule--using a knowledge
base the company has built over years of software consulting.


Unlike its Checkpoint predecessor, KnowledgePlan requires no expert knowledge of how
software function points relate to programmer productivity.


"To get this into lots of hands, we needed to simplify the interface and put in
more wizards," company president Charles Douglis said.


KnowledgePlan has templates for four types of work structures, including those of
iterative and maintenance projects. But it lacks a prebuilt template or task listing for
year 2000 projects.


It estimates programmer productivity, compares it to industry averages and suggests
ways to to raise it. Buyers can test the tool by running an estimate against a finished
project.


"Usually they get within 10 percent of actuals, which is significantly better than
most back-of-the-envelope estimates," Douglis said.


The program has interfaces for Microsoft Project 98 and other project management tools,
Microsoft Access and Seagate Software's Crystal Reports.


"We assume that KnowledgePlan is going to feed a project management tool" in
which the user will work on the resource assignments, task status and updates, Douglis
said.


Government managers can use the Microsoft Windows-only tool to evaluate fixed-price
proposals, Douglis said. Contractors could use it to determine project lifecycle
estimates.


KnowledgePlan is $5,310 on General Services Administration schedule.


Acqua 2.0, from Centerline Software of Cambridge, Mass., integrates software testing
results into lifecycle management.


The $50,000 program, which the company dubs an application delivery management system,
has integration scripts for regression and stress testing and for World Wide Web and Java
application testing. Results are captured, displayed and stored in a common repository.


The knowledge base incorporates industry software metrics, including those from
Software Productivity Research.


"The objective is to get some predictability and manageability into the art form
called software delivery," said Alyssa Dver, Centerline's vice president product
development.


Defense contractor Lockheed Martin Corp. is using Acqua to manage software development
for the Navy's Aegis weapons systems program, Dver said.


Centerline sells Acqua 2.0 for Unix and Windows. The Windows version interfaces with
the Seagate Crystal Reports report writer and with databases that support the Open
Database Connectivity standard. The Unix version interfaces with Oracle Corp. databases.


In addition to a $50,000 server license, Acqua client licenses are $5,000 for Unix
users and $3,000 for Windows users.


Contact Software Productivity Research at 617-273-0140 and Centerline Software at
617-498-3000.


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