If we look back at the first post in this estimation series, we spoke about being provided with requirements for producing estimates within a specified time, at a required accuracy, based on provided information. It’s rare you’ll be given the perfect amount of time and information required to reach you accuracy target. It’s likely that you won’t have enough time or enough information. So what options do you have? What can you do?
There are plenty of systems out there for estimating software development projects. Many of them seem geared towards large companies, massive projects, product-based teams or those in academia rather than our world of smaller, faster-moving web projects.
I’m not going to give you another Solution. I’ll share what’s worked for me and touch on a few traps to be aware of, and I hope it will help.
You have your inputs and needs defined, you know which estimation strategy is best, you’ve carried out some preliminary risk assessment and you’re comfortable with your understanding of effort, elapsed time and cost. Well done!
Now how do you get started on the meaty business of actually producing the estimate? Let’s take a look.
When you estimate, what do you produce? Do you figure out how long things will take, or do you go straight to a dollar figure and a finish date?
Hopefully you produce an estimate for effort first, and the project cost and the delivery dates are worked out after that. Effort, elapsed time and project cost are valuable concepts and keeping them straight can help you and your project stay on the path to success.
Projects fail every day and failure is often preventable. By taking a moment to identify possible problems and manage them, you’re helping establish a foundation for project success and encourage realistic expectations of both your team and the client’s.
Let’s talk about risk management!
This post kicks off my long overdue series on estimation techniques for developers. Each week I’ll be sharing something I’ve learnt over the last 12 years of estimation in small-medium private sector web development teams. Some will be longer than others but hopefully you’ll find a few useful at least. This is “Part 1: Key Concepts in Estimation”.