Getting to the (Function) Point: Measuring ADM Productivity With and Without Function Points

Analysis of Application Development and Maintenance/Support (ADM) productivity has traditionally included debate over the role of Function Point-based (FP) measures. Proponents of FP analysis believe that a meaningful assessment of productivity requires comparisons based on the functional size of existing applications being maintained, or of new applications being developed. Opponents argue that the defined functional “size” of an application provides limited insight into the time required to maintain or build an application.

Three general philosophies around the applicability of FP analysis can be defined. First, companies with established FP-based performance measures in place seek to apply FPs to attain “apples-to-apples” comparability to other organizations using FP-based metrics. At the other end of the spectrum, organizations refuse to use FPs to analyze performance. A third philosophy, however, is emerging among organizations that have never used FP- based measures and do not have a Function Point culture established, but are willing to consider incorporating Function Points to enhance visibility into ADM productivity. 

This ISG white paper argues that, while FP-based productivity measures can provide more detailed visibility into ADM performance, they are not essential to improving cost, quality or
productivity. The author (a strong proponent of FP-based metrics) seeks to move beyond the debate over Function Points and address the real goal of improving ADM productivity.