The Art Of Estimation

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I read, reviewed and digested the excellent The Art of Estimation by Steve McConnell and presented back what I'd learned about software estimation to the team.

The Art Of Estimation

  1. The Art of Software Estimation john burns
  2. A presentation I put together as part of a digestion and book review of the excellent Art Of Estimation by Steve McConnell. Any mistakes or inaccuracies are entirely my own doing.
  3. What is an estimate?
  4. The client needs RiskForce IV before next month or the Death Star will implode. How long do you think it will take? P.s. We should softcode the architecture in case we need to integrate with their Other System running on Paula Bean’s VM. Love, The Boss x
  5. An estimate is an unbiased, analytical process to predict the duration or cost of a project.
  6. We need RiskForce IV ready to demo at a conference in February.
  7. We will have something to demo at the conference in February.
  8. It’s a prediction. It is NOT planning!
  9. Estimation is not 100% accurate All estimates are probabilities
  10. Why bother making estimates at all?
  11. Better estimation…
  12. Better planning…
  13. Lower costs…
  14. Greater chance of project success!
  15. How do we know if our estimate is good?*
  16. Hi RiskWorks! A good estimate should be within 25% of actual results 75% of the time. Steve McConnell
  17. For each question, fill in the upper and lower bounds that, in your opinion, give you a 90% chance of including the correct value. Low High estimate estimate 1. Surface temperature of sun 2. Latitude of Shanghai 3. Area of Asian continent 4. The year of Alexanda the Great’s birth 5. Total value of U.S currency in circulation in 2004 6. Total volume of the Great Lakes 7. Worldwide box office receipts for the movie Titanic 8. Total length of the coastline of the Pacific Ocean 9. Number of book titles published in the U.S. since 1776 10. Heaviest blue whale ever recorded
  18. Answers 1. Surface temperature of sun 10,000°F / 6,000°C 2. Latitude of Shanghai 31 degrees North 3. Area of Asian continent 17,139,000 square miles 4. The year of Alexanda the Great’s birth 356 BC 5. Total value of U.S currency in circulation in 2004 $719.9 billion 6. Total volume of the Great Lakes 2.3 x 10^16 litres 7. Worldwide box office receipts for the movie Titanic $1.835 billion 8. Total length of the coastline of the Pacific Ocean 84,300 miles 9. Number of book titles published in the U.S. since 1776 22 million 10. Heaviest blue whale ever recorded 170 metric tons
  19. How did you do?
  20. Where did the pressure to narrow your ranges come from?
  21. They came from within
  22. Narrow ranges != greater accuracy; Make your ranges as wide as they need to be
  23. over estimate? under
  24. Parkinson’s Law Work expands to fill time
  25. Goldratt’s student syndrome
  26. Underestimating will make them fearful, increasing their rate of work. The empire will soon be mine.
  27. Underestimating leads to project plan destruction
  28. More bugs
  29. Bad team health Bad team health Image: sick
  30. More time in status meetings to discusstime spent in status meetings at the end of the project More slippage
  31. Control the effects of overestimation using project planning and status visibility Not by buffering your estimates
  32. What’s the source of uncertainty in our estimates?
  33. Cone of uncertainty
  34. Cloud of uncertainty
  35. The cone doesn’t narrow itself You have to force it to narrow by reducing variability
  36. Unstable requirements are the worst offender
  37. Project chaos leads to uncertainty in estimates
  38. Remember to include: Testing Support of old projects Version control Building the installer More meetings…
  39. Optimism is bad
  40. How do we become better estimators?
  41. Don’t give off the cuff estimates
  42. Precision is not accuracy The project will not take 233.725 hours
  43. Find something meaningful to count and keep a record of it
  44. Use expert judgement only as a last resort
  45. What about when you’re agile?
  46. Measure story points per sprint
  47. Use t-shirt sizing at the start of the project S, M, L
  48. We can easily identify early on anything not worth pursuing T-Shirt sizing chart Feature Business value Development cost Feature A Large Small Feature B Small Large Feature C Medium Large Feature D Medium Medium … Feature Z Small Small
  49. We can be better at expert judgement
  50. Make tasks more granular 2 days max per task
  51. Use ranges not single points with best case and worst case estimates Feature Best Case Worst Case Feature A 1.25 2.0 Feature B 1.5 2.5 Feature C 2.0 3.0 Feature D 0.75 2.0 Feature E 0.5 1.25 Total 6.0 10.75
  52. Use the PERT formula to get the effort in the Expected Case Expected case = [Best Case + 4(MostLikelyCase) + WorstCase] / 6
  53. Always compare your estimates to your actuals or you’ll never be a better estimator
  54. Questions?
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