DCG-SMS Insight: Quantifying IT Performance

DCG-SMS is the “Quantity Surveyor of Information Systems.”

DCG-SMS quantifies the value, potential and performance of IT. Through targetted studies and investigations we provide the data to guide business decisions about IT strategy and sourcing.

We support clients in the successful implementation of strategic measurement and transformation programmes. Our pool of expert trainers and topic coaches addresses gaps in the knowledge and capability our clients need to achieve their business goals.

We apply our expertise to implement improvement in :

  • departmental performance
  • project performance
  • process performance
  • application lifecycle management
  • strategic business alignment of the IT function

DCG-SMS Insight Services:

Performance Diagnostics

A Diagnostic is a quick, expert survey to quantify the current state. It looks at IT-related activities in terms of the results delivered and the experience of the internal customers of the IT function.

  • Symptomatic Diagnostic of Organisational Effectiveness
    An end-to-end analysis showing you how well your  business systems support the achievement of business goals.


  • Quick-Look CMMI Assessment
    A low-cost, low-impact evaluation of process performance, measured against the SEI’s Capability Maturity Model.

Quick-Look Appraisal_brochure

  • NCC IT Departmental Accreditation
    A low-cost benchmark of departmental performance and identification of improvement priorities


  • ISO Gap Analysis
    Pre-assessment  evaluation of compliance with ITIL and ISO standards for service, quality, or security

ISO 20000 Compliance

  • Gap Analysis – other models and standards
Please contact us to find out the full range of process models and frameworks we support.

Feasability & Scoping Studies

The Insight team work with you to build the business case for change and get your key stakeholders on board.

We specialise in short, focused studies which uncover the root causes and root costs of inefficient and ineffective processes. These Insight Reports provide the objective, in-depth analysis the CIO’s team need to get a complete and realistic picture of the current effectiveness, efficiency and capability of IT-related activities.

Studies can also take the form of investigations or pilots to establish the feasability of a proposed change – for instance, the introduction of Agile practices, a new method of estimating or measuring IT performance, a change in process or the introduction of a new quality standard. The extensive experience and know-how of the Insight team will collect and collate valuable and meaningful evidence more effectively, in less time, without tying up lots of in-house resource. We also provide the expert analysis which supports sound management decisions.

We will provide reports tailored to your needs and objectives. Below are some of our standard studies and investigations which we have designed to address commonly found issues:

Performance reports:

  • Capability Assessment – total software performance assessment, or by process area (requirements, measurement practice, testing, etc.)
  • Gap Analysis: CMMI; ISO 20000; TickIT; SPICE
  • ICT Value Stream Mapping
  • IT Optima User Experience Comparison & Analysis
  • Improvement Pilot – How to go faster; Reduce Costs; Improve Quality or Improve Value
  • Lean Application Lifecycle Management – Healthcheck Report
  • Performance Baseline

Measurement and Management reports:

  • Fast Data Collection Study for performance benchmark
  • Functional Size Measurement Audit
  • Function Point Analysis – Measurement Practice Healthcheck
  • Introducing Function Point Measurement – Feasability Study
  • Project Scope Study
  • Project, Programme, or Product Line Profiling
  • Rapid Function Point Count
  • Rapid Application Portfolio Sizing
  • Software Productivity Analysis
  • Software Size Estimating Practice
  • Programme and Project Scope Management
  • Project Audit/Healthcheck
  • Project Retrospective/Post Mortem

Outsourcing Management reports:

  • Output Pricing: Price Comparison Report
  • Procurement/Outsourcing Readiness Review
  • Rapid Capability Evaluation of potential suppliers
  • Supplier Performance Evaluation

Implementing Change and Improvement

The objective of the DCG-SMS Insight Team is not to produce a report. It is to enhance your business capability. We work with you to identify your improvement goals and provide a range of training, mentoring and coaching to help you achieve them quickly, and sustain the improvement over time.

Improvement critically requires senior management commitment. Without this, the chances of success are severely compromised from the start, so good preparation, a sound business case, and the ability to engage the support of key stakeholders are crucial prerequisites for a successful improvement programme. The Insight Team work with you from square one to build and sustain the necessary senior level engagement.

The software industry has a notably poor track record of capturing and exploiting best practice. It has a history of “plugging in” technical fixes which do not address the real issues. At DCG-SMS, we believe world class performance is achieved by unlocking the potential of your people. This means providing a constructive, learning culture in which to work and a disciplined system of processes which keep creative developers focused on delivery of business value. It means ensuring individuals and project teams have the necessary skills and know-how to manage their own work. This is the kind of continuous improvement culture the DCG-SMS Insight Team will work to create with your people.

Measurement and improvement are ‘two sides of one coin’. Most organisations are unlikely to achieve lasting performance improvements without a sustained, successful, measurement regime. It is the active use of measurement by creative, client-facing staff that makes the difference. Senior management review of so-called ‘key performance indicators’ (KPI) can help stimulate use, but all too often these KPI are somehow disconnected from day-to-day practice. This can lead to dysfunctional behaviour, especially where ‘measurement targets’ are mistaken for the true ‘business goals’. Observations suggest that the most effective use of measurement is in providing in-line indicators and rapid feedback on process performance, making status and progress visible to all those involved in the value stream.

DCG-SMS Insight provides tailored programmes of coaching, mentoring and training to support your improvement journey. Insight Topic Coaching is a call-off programme for expert mentoring of teams or individuals in a specific area of expertise – eg CMMI, FPA, Lean-Agile, etc. Topic Coaching provides personal, on-going support which responds to the needs of your team, your business, and your budget.

The Insight Team also provide ‘help desk’ style support to individual practitioners and project teams via our MetricsMentor Service. This is an internet-based service which enables users to raise ‘Service Requests’ that are resolved promptly by subject matter experts


Over time, experience has taught DCG-SMS that successful adoption of methods such as COSMIC, the IFPUG & MkII FPA methods, GQ[I]M, COCOMO.II.2000, and other estimating techniques, etc. is rarely achieved by providing training only in the form of courses such as the typical 2 day formal class.

Your Topic Coach will create a programme of training options designed to embed new skills and knowledge in everyday practice. He/she will monitor practice over time to ensure standards and competency are maintained. This approach to the transfer of knowledge (TOK) has been trialled in various organisations and consists of:

Training options:

Formal Training (usually 2 days – to introduce participants to new concepts and practices using ‘typical’ examples & exercises).

Coached Workshops (ideally 3 days – to help participants apply newly learnt skills & procedures in their real-life environment and to their real projects and problems, establishing baselines and useful reference datasets.

Health-Checks and Formal Audits (usually 2 or more days, at a rate of about one half-day per project team, to provide QC/QA feedback re: conformance to recognised standards, assurance of the results achieved, corrective actions, identification of additional training needs, etc.).

Technical Clinic (usually 1 day – during a clinic practitioners raise their specific problems for discussion and resolution with a subject matter expert, usually on a one-to-one basis) .

Advanced Skills Workshops (usually 2 days – to guide participants in the use of the data they have learned to collect – Advanced Workshops usually are targeted at specific audiences e.g.: developers & testers; project managers; bid-team members; procurement specialists).

Executive Learning Break – this is a 2 hour education session for senior executives and programme managers; it identifies the kind of business goals that measurement and improvement methods are designed to satisfy, explaining their context and use, without going into the fine-grained detail.

Knowledge Network Learning Breaks – these 2 hour education sessions are tailored to a variety of audiences, ranging from those involved in Procurement and/or Bid-Teams, through Architects, Project Managers, and other specialist areas.

Exam Preparation Workshops – FPA practitioners who are building experience in order to take the relevant certification examinations can take advantage of DCG-SMS expertise by participating in one of these Exam Preparation Workshops – coaching is run over 3 days and the one morning immediately preceding the exam held in the afternoon .

Standard In-House Training Courses

  • Management Overview: Uses and Benefits of Functional Size Measurement (1-day workshop)
  • Management Overview: Principles and Benefits of Good Estimating Practice (1-day workshop)
  • Sizing and Estimating with COSMIC (3-day course)
  • Software Estimation with COCOMO2 (1-day workshop)
  • Practical Use of COSMIC (2-day course or 5-module web-course)
  • Practical Use of IFPUG (2-day course or 5-module web-course)
  • Practical Use of Mk2 (2-day course)
  • Agile Systems Management: covering principles of agile; requirements management; estimating.  (4-module web course, or 4 x 1-day workshops)
  • Goal-Question-Metric  Method (1-day workshop)


Contact DCG-SMS:
+44 (0) 843-289-5174

What’s New

DCG-SMS Webinar: Outcome Based Metrics 9th July 2013. Alan Cameron considers how project metrics need to change to keep pace with today's approaches to applications development.
Register. >>

DCG-SMS Webinar: Contracting for Agile
17th September 2013. Susan Atkinson of Keystone Law considers how the approach to contracting for software needs to change to leverage the business advantages of Agile.
Register >> 

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