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Software Productivity Since 1970

Understanding software productivity (hours per function point, cost per function point) from 1970 to Present can provide insight into industry wide trends.   Over the past several years,  I have compiled software productivity rates from the 1970's to the present and projected these numbers into the year 2005.  

The conclusion is that projects are becoming larger,  more complex and more expensive than ever before.  This trend will continue into the next millennium.  Users appetites are still larger than IT Industries ability to meet them.  Most IT professionals realize this, but have never put any hard data towards this problem.

How has productivity changed since the 1970's

The productivity of software projects have increased about 3 times since 1970.   In 1970, COBOL was the state of the art, mainframes were in vogue and the PC was nothing more than a dream of software engineers.  The internet was nothing.  By year 2000, end user computing exploded.  Software developers are developing in languages like Java, Visual C++, ASP, and other visual languages.  No longer are software applications being developed for back office operations, but software applications are being used as marketing tools and competitive weapons.  Applications are actually delivered to customers via the internet.

Why is this data useful?

Where is your organization at in the software development spectrum?  Many organizations spend time optimizing applications that should become obsolete.  If your organization has 80's vintage software then, it is difficult for your organization to keep up with users needs.  It may be difficult to increase productivity levels to keep up with industry trends with out major overalls to your current application portfolio.  The bottom line is until your modernize your application portfolio you will be limited in what you can do.

Like productivity size of software projects have increased at dramatic rates.  Since 1970 projects have grown nearly 10 times as large as they were in the 1970's.  The trend is towards larger and more complex software.

As any organization moves forward and wants software to become a marketing tool, competitive weapons something more than back office operations, then they will be required to deliver software applications that are large and expensive.

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