Constructive Cost Model

Definition of Constructive Cost Model

The Constructive Cost Model (COCOMO) is a predictive mathematical model used to estimate the amount of effort, time, and cost required for a software development project. It was developed by Barry Boehm in 1981 and is based on empirical data from numerous software projects. COCOMO takes into account the size of a software application, productivity factors, and project complexities to provide an accurate estimate of the resources needed for successful project completion.


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Key Takeaways

  1. The Constructive Cost Model (COCOMO) is a method for estimating the cost, effort, and schedule of a software project by weighing factors such as size, complexity, and constraints.
  2. COCOMO consists of three different models – Basic, Intermediate, and Advanced – that vary in accuracy and complexity, depending on the project’s needs and available data.
  3. COCOMO factors in aspects like development mode, software size, and cost drivers to create a comprehensive and customizable approach to predicting resources required for successful software development.

Importance of Constructive Cost Model

The Constructive Cost Model (COCOMO) is an important technology term because it plays a crucial role in predicting and managing the cost, effort, and schedule of software development projects.

Developed by Dr.

Barry Boehm, COCOMO helps organizations to effectively estimate critical project attributes, allowing them to make well-informed decisions during planning and execution stages.

This model is particularly vital in today’s fast-paced technology environment, where accurate and efficient budgeting and resource allocation are essential for the successful delivery of software projects.

Consequently, COCOMO contributes significantly to the overall effectiveness, sustainability, and growth of software development organizations by minimizing risks, optimizing costs, and ensuring timely completion of projects.


The primary purpose of the Constructive Cost Model (COCOMO) is to provide an accurate estimation of the time, effort, and cost required for the successful completion and delivery of a software project. In a software development environment characterized by tight deadlines, limited budgets, and intricate project requirements, COCOMO becomes a vital tool for project management teams and stakeholders to make informed decisions.

By aggregating multiple parameters, such as project size, development environment, personnel skill level, and updated algorithmic models that account for changes in the development process, this model enables an organization to explore the feasibility of a project, estimate delivery timelines, and allocate the necessary resources. COCOMO is primarily used to optimize productivity while simultaneously minimizing potential risks within the realm of software development.

It helps project managers foresee potential issues that could arise during the development phase, such as technical obstacles and resource limitations, by producing reliable, data-driven estimations. Additionally, the model assists in setting achievable project goals, such as milestones, deliverables, and budgets, fostering more effective communication among team members and stakeholders.

As a result, the implementation of the Constructive Cost Model serves as an essential component for achieving on-time and on-budget software projects, ensuring the overall success of the business.

Examples of Constructive Cost Model

The Constructive Cost Model (COCOMO) is a widely-used software estimation model that predicts the effort and cost required to complete a software development project. It was originally proposed by Barry Boehm in 1981 and has since been refined into different versions. Here are three real-world examples of where COCOMO has been applied:

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL): The JPL, managed by the California Institute of Technology, is an organization that operates various space missions for NASA. In the early 1990s, the JPL undertook a project to develop advanced software systems for deep space missions. To estimate the required effort and cost, the JPL used the COCOMO model for initial software sizing and effort estimation. This gave them critical insights into resource allocation and staffing requirements for the project.

Telecom Companies: Large telecommunication companies like AT&T have used COCOMO to estimate the effort and cost of developing and maintaining software for their network infrastructure. For example, in the late 1990s, a major European telecom company needed to develop software for their telecommunications switching systems. They used the COCOMO II model for estimating the resources and cost required to build and maintain the software, which helped them optimize the development process and reduce costs.

Automotive Industry: The automotive industry has also been using the COCOMO model to estimate software development efforts for various components such as safety systems, in-car entertainment systems, and engine control units. For instance, Ford worked with the Software Engineering Institute at Carnegie Mellon University to create the Software Cost and Schedule Estimation (SCASE) tool, which was based on COCOMO. SCASE helped Ford better understand the resources needed for software development and accurately predict costs and project schedules.These examples show that the COCOMO model has been widely used across various industries to provide critical insights and support effective decision making in software development projects.

Constructive Cost Model – FAQs

What is Constructive Cost Model (COCOMO)?

The Constructive Cost Model, also known as COCOMO, is a software estimation model that calculates the cost, effort, and time required to complete a software project based on its size and complexity. Developed by Dr. Barry Boehm, COCOMO has been widely adopted by software development companies to predict project costs and establish accurate software schedules.

What are the different types of COCOMO?

There are three types of COCOMO: Basic, Intermediate, and Detailed. Basic COCOMO is a simplified version of the model that uses only the software size (measured in lines of code) to estimate the project effort. Intermediate COCOMO incorporates additional factors like software development experiences or constraints, and Detailed COCOMO further refines the estimates by considering project-specific factors and multiple development phases.

How does COCOMO estimate software development effort?

COCOMO estimates software development effort using a formula that takes into account the size of the project (measured in lines of code or function points), a set of multiplicative cost drivers (factors affecting productivity), and an exponent that varies depending on the type of project. By applying these values, COCOMO calculates the effort in person-months, providing an estimate for the resources required to complete the project.

What are the main advantages of using COCOMO?

COCOMO provides several benefits, including the ability to produce reliable cost estimates at an early stage of the project, allowing for better planning and resource allocation. The model is based on empirical data from a large sample of software projects, ensuring its accuracy. Moreover, COCOMO is customizable, enabling organizations to fine-tune the model based on their specific experiences and requirements.

Are there any limitations or drawbacks to using COCOMO?

While COCOMO is a useful tool for software cost estimation, there are some limitations. Its accuracy is highly dependent on the quality of input data, such as lines of code, which can be challenging to estimate accurately for large or complex projects. Furthermore, COCOMO doesn’t account for factors like market conditions, organizational culture, or individual developer skills, which can also impact project cost and duration.

Related Technology Terms

  • Software Estimation Techniques
  • Effort Adjustment Factors (EAF)
  • Cost Drivers
  • Project Scale Factors
  • COCOMO II Model

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