REVIEW - Making the Software Business Case - Improvement by the Numbers


Making the Software Business Case

Improvement by the Numbers


Donald J. Reifer



Addison-Wesley Professional (2002)




Huw Lloyd


April 2002



It is a thought provoking text that helps clarify a complicated activity

This book's principal concern is the measurement and presentation of software and programming as capital.

The text is well structured and self-encapsulating. I found the bibliography to be especially useful (each reference is accompanied with a description of the text's relevance).

The first half of the book titled 'Fundamental concepts' sets the scene and presents an incremental analysis of the domain. It makes frequent use of bullet-points, diagrams and tables to help depict the narrative.

Example cases constitute the second half of the book. They are written in the second person, with the reader taking on the role of the instigator for organisational change (enterprise software project manager) and the author often taking the role of consultant. Hence the narrative is an experiential account as opposed to a domain analysis.

Despite the clear writing and broad coverage, I felt it lacked impact. Many issues are often bundled together as key considerations without much reflection of their origin. I would have appreciated a further chapter articulating the author's personal analysis of his experiences.

I found myself disagreeing with some technicalities, which is understandable given the social and technical complexity of the activity (although the author allows for the interchange of models) for example:

i) Boehm's COCOMO II model takes a dominant role.

ii) The examples are large-scale (enterprise level) efforts. Whether the application of business cases scales down to sub-projects is not clear.

It is a thought provoking text that helps clarify a complicated activity. I recommend it for software associates seeking knowledge of business cases, or indeed of the application of software in business itself.

Book cover image courtesy of Open Library.

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