Customizing Phases and Roles in SEER-SEM

Published on Author Dan Galorath

It is very common for a new SEER-SEM customer to want to map their life cycle phases and labor categories to those used in SEER-SEM. This helps to align a SEER-SEM estimate to their organization for accounting and tracking purposes. The application can be tailored to use an organization’s unique set of life cycle phases and/or labor categories.   It is important to differentiate between phases and activities as they are handled differently in SEER-SEM. For example, management is not a distinct phase of a project, but a role that occurs throughout the project.

Life Cycle Phase Mapping

To tailor SEER-SEM, you must first compare what is included in the estimate to your existing cost structure. This is often a pretty straightforward task of developing a mapping, starting with the life cycle phases. It can become somewhat more involved if you have greater or fewer categories than what SEER-SEM has.   For the case where you have the same number of phases as SEER-SEM, you simply want to map the standard phases to the user defined phases, aligning the activities that are fundamentally similar. Below is an example of how a custom set of phases can be defined.


Sometimes a customer also has a desired allocation into the custom phases. This can be done by defining some allocation factors and saving them in a knowledge base.   This type of activity is often done during the customer’s implementation with the assist of SEER consulting services. It is worth pointing out that SEER-SEM dynamically allocates effort into phases depending on size and reuse inputs and a custom allocation would be subject to this same fine tuning of the allocation to any specific input scenario.

Accommodating fewer phases than what SEER-SEM offers can be done. Exactly how to do this depends on what phases are included and whether you want to exclude effort normally estimated by SEER-SEM. A calibration adjustment factor would be needed of you want to exclude effort that is normally estimated by SEER-SEM.  Generally, this scenario will require a knowledge base to include allocation factors, calibration adjustment factors, and other parameter settings.   If there are more phases then what SEER-SEM offers, some phases would have to be consolidate for reporting purposes.

One important rule to keep in mind when customizing SEER-SEM is to think simple. Most scenarios can be handled with relatively straightforward mapping and in some cases some special allocation factors.

Labor Category Mapping

Tailoring of the of labor categories in SEER-SEM is done in a similar fashion as the activities. This is generally done by mapping customer categories to the SEER-SEM categories based on their definitions.   However, since SEER-SEM allocates effort into roles by phase, it is possible to define a completely different set of categories. In this case, the labor allocation table in the SEER-SEM Settings.ini file will need to be customized. This is a straightforward process and is generally done during the customer’s implementation.