A Hybrid Model for Estimating Software Project Effort from Use Case Points

Mohammad Azzeh, Ali Bou Nassif

Early software effort estimation is a hallmark of successful software project management. Building a reliable effort estimation model usually requires historical data. Unfortunately, since the information available at early stages of software development is scarce, it is recommended to use software size metrics as key cost factor of effort estimation. Use Case Points (UCP) is a prominent size measure designed mainly for object-oriented projects. Nevertheless, there are no established models that can translate UCP into its corresponding effort, therefore, most models use productivity as a second cost driver. The productivity in those models is usually guessed by experts and does not depend on historical data, which makes it subject to uncertainty. Thus, these models were not well examined using a large number of historical data. In this paper, we designed a hybrid model that consists of classification and prediction stages using a support vector machine and radial basis neural networks. The proposed model was constructed over a large number of observations collected from industrial and student projects. The proposed model was compared against previous UCP prediction models. The validation and empirical results demonstrated that the proposed model significantly surpasses these models on all datasets. The main conclusion is that the environmental factors of UCP can be used to classify and estimate productivity.

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