The aim of the MERMAID project was to improve support for estimators and project managers in the area of effort forecast, risk analysis and resource modelling. The approach is based on the definition of local software development environments, without prior assumptions of cost drivers or their relationship to effort/cost. This in turn is based on assessment of the most significant problems in the classical methods of cost estimation (such as COCOMO and FPA), and is a synthesis of DeMarco's concept of phase-based measurement and the Badly-Basile meta-model approach.
At present, resource estimation is an art which is not widely applied in software engineering environments. Much of the dissatisfaction with current estimation tools lies in their dependence on size metrics, which cannot be established with any accuracy until well into the development life cycle.
The aim of the MERMAID project is to improve support for estimators and project managers in the area of effort forecast, risk analysis and progress monitoring. The approach is based on the definition of local software development environments, without prior assumptions of cost drivers or their relationships to effort/cost.
A programme of research has been carried out to improve the understanding of the nature of the relationships between observed development productivity and selected productivity cost drivers. Data has been collected from software development projects both within the partners' organizations and externally from collaborating organizations. In parallel, extensive knowledge elicitation has been carried out through interviews of experts in the field.
A generalized data model of the software development process and a comparative evaluation of existing cost estimation tools have been completed. Results of knowledge elicitation are also available and a prototype toolset was delivered.
The testing of the MERMAID hypotheses is virtually complete and is proving the underlying assumptions generally correct. The research results have been translated into product specifications to be included in the final version of the MERMAID toolset.
A commercial version of the prototype implemented on a personal computer (PC) under disc operating system (DOS)/Windows and operating system (OS)/2 was delivered and a final version is scheduled for completion in October 1992. A system for the collection of project data has been implemented on a PC and is being used to analyse user project data.
In the area of risk analysis, a prototype has been developed and a further development of this will be integrated into the final MERMAID toolset.
The approach was implemented by several increments of the MERMAID toolset. An initial Sun-based prototype was used to test the basic assumptions and hypotheses of MERMAID. The feedback from the user community was so positive that it was decided to proceed towards a commercially usable version, running on PCs with either MS-DOS and MS-Windows or OS/2. This version incorporates the improvements identified in the tests of the prototype.
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