Project Estimation: Demystifying the Black Art

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  • 10,000 F / 6,000 C
  • 380,000 lbs170 metric tons
  • Budget, Timelines,
  • What materials should we use?What is your budget?What is your time frame?What about details X,Y,Z?
  • By asking how many “bedrooms” you should be able to make a huge amount of assumptions up until you get hit with a modification that breaks the norm. These “normality breakers” however are commonly very out in the open (nobody expects a house builder to come in on time and under budget if you neglected to mention the swimming pool and sun room, therefore it gets mentioned).How many Epics / Themes can I detect early on? (for those using user stories)How many Roles / Persona have been mentioned?How many integration points are needed?Depending on your environment, there might be a completely different set of criteria you might look at as a “bedroom”; however, I do believe that you will always be able to find at least one. The client budget and time frame is always on the forefront of the discussion; however, those are variables that [regardless of what they say] are mutable, their need for a 3 bedroom house is not.
  • How many Epics / Themes can I detect early onHow many Roles / Persona have been mentioned?How many integration points are needed?Depending on your environment, there might be a completely different set of criteria you might look at as a “bedroom”; however, I do believe that you will always be able to find at least one. The client budget and time frame is always on the forefront of the discussion; however, those are variables that [regardless of what they say] are mutable, their need for a 3 bedroom house is not.
  • - Estimation : Unbiased, analytical process - Planning: Biased, goal seeking activity Estimates form foundation for plans, not vice versa Hazardous to want the estimation to come out to a particular result Result: Bad estimates *and* bad plans
  • “Plans are worthless — but planning is everything.” —Dwight D. Eisenhower
  • - Premature commitments routinely sabotage projects [McConnell 2005]- Meaningful commitments are not possible in the wide part of the cone Effective organizations delay their commitments until they have forced the cone to narrow
  • Hofstadter's Law: It always takes longer than you expect, even when you take into account Hofstadter's Law.
  • progress is never linear is the first step in understanding why projects are never under budget
  • One of the best reasons [from a management perspective] to adopt Scrum is the fact that iterations are “accountable commitments” to what the team could accomplish in a week…nobody should ever be held accountable for estimationsBeing a responsible estimator is important, but being responsible for your estimates is not. You have to build the solution, you should not also have to manage the budget. Put your estimations in ranges with probabilities and let your manager manage the costs and risks of the project.
  • Project Estimation: Demystifying the Black Art

    1. 1. Project Estimation:Demystifying the Black Art<br />
    2. 2. How good an estimator are you?<br />
    3. 3. For the following questions…<br /><ul><li> Give a range (upper and lower bounds)
    4. 4. Do not make your ranges either too wide or too narrow
    5. 5. Make the range so you believe there is a 90% chance of </li></ul> including the right value<br />
    6. 6. What is the surface<br />temperature of the Sun?<br />
    7. 7. What is the weight of<br />the heaviest blue whale<br />ever recorded?<br />
    8. 8. Quiz Results<br />
    9. 9. We stink at estimation.<br />
    10. 10. Psychology works against us.<br />
    11. 11. Psychology works against us.<br /><ul><li> Feeling of ignorance
    12. 12. Protection of pride
    13. 13. Influence from expectations</li></li></ul><li>Psychology works against us.<br /><ul><li> We don’t estimate accurately
    14. 14. We don’t plan accordingly
    15. 15. We don’t execute correctly
    16. 16. We don’t reflect properly</li></li></ul><li>Psychology works against us.<br /><ul><li> We don’t estimate accurately
    17. 17. We don’t plan accordingly
    18. 18. We don’t execute correctly
    19. 19. We don’t reflect properly</li></li></ul><li>Artificially Narrow Ranges<br />
    20. 20. Probability of correct estimation<br />100%<br />
    21. 21. Quiz Expectations<br />90%<br />
    22. 22. Business Expectations<br />25%<br />
    23. 23. Single Point Estimations<br />> 1%<br />
    24. 24. Under-estimation<br /><ul><li> Reduced effectiveness of project plans
    25. 25. Reduced chance of on-time completion
    26. 26. Destructive late-project dynamics</li></li></ul><li>Over-estimation<br /><ul><li> Parkinson’s Law
    27. 27. Student Syndrome</li></li></ul><li>Give Probability Ranges<br />
    28. 28. My Business Expectations<br />50%<br />25%<br />75%<br />
    29. 29. We don’t like ranges<br />
    30. 30. Put uncertainty into your estimation practices<br />
    31. 31. The Golden Spiral<br />
    32. 32.
    33. 33. Planning Poker<br />
    34. 34. Tainting estimates with customer expectations<br />
    35. 35. We don’t know what<br /> we are estimating<br />
    36. 36. “Build me a house.”<br />
    37. 37. Find your project’s estimation cornerstones<br />
    38. 38. How Many Bedrooms?<br /><ul><li> 2 Bedrooms ~ 800 sq ft., 1 bathroom, </li></ul> 1 stall garage, small or shared yard.<br /><ul><li> 4 Bedrooms ~ 1400 – 2200 sq ft., </li></ul> 2 bathrooms, 2 stall garage, yard<br />
    39. 39. How Many Bedrooms?<br /><ul><li> Prioritizing size and complexity will trigger</li></ul> defensive responses<br /><ul><li> Prioritizing details will trigger optimism</li></ul> (i.e. size and complexity will fit inside details)<br />
    40. 40. 2 Day Crutch Method<br />
    41. 41. 2 Day Crutch Method<br /><ul><li> Forces further exploration</li></ul> of unknown or large features<br />
    42. 42. 2 Day Crutch Method<br /><ul><li> Forces further exploration</li></ul> of unknown or large features<br /><ul><li> Insists task break downs of </li></ul> lengthy known features<br />
    43. 43. 2 Day Crutch Method<br /><ul><li> Forces further exploration</li></ul> of unknown or large features<br /><ul><li> Insists task break downs of </li></ul> lengthy known features<br /><ul><li> Teaches the wisdom of knowing </li></ul> when something is really unknown<br />
    44. 44. Modifying estimates<br /> with “control knobs”<br />
    45. 45. Psychology works against us.<br /><ul><li> We don’t estimate accurately
    46. 46. We don’t plan accordingly
    47. 47. We don’t execute correctly
    48. 48. We don’t reflect properly</li></li></ul><li>Estimates ≠ Plans<br />
    49. 49. Estimation = Planning<br />“Plans are worthless — but planning is everything.” <br />—Dwight D. Eisenhower<br />
    50. 50. Psychology works against us.<br /><ul><li> We don’t estimate accurately
    51. 51. We don’t plan accordingly
    52. 52. We don’t execute correctly
    53. 53. We don’t reflect properly</li></li></ul><li>Not forcing clarity on<br /> project uncertainty<br />
    54. 54. “It feels like 20 hours, but let’s <br />put 24 hours to fudge it<br />a little bit…”<br />
    55. 55. Cone of Uncertainty<br />
    56. 56. $100k<br />25k 400k<br />67k 150k<br />80k 125k<br />50k 200k<br />
    57. 57. Hofstadter's Law<br />
    58. 58. The Gut Instinct Equation<br />
    59. 59. Psychology works against us.<br /><ul><li> We don’t estimate accurately
    60. 60. We don’t plan accordingly
    61. 61. We don’t execute correctly
    62. 62. We don’t reflect properly</li></li></ul><li>Estimates are for visibility, not accountability<br />
    63. 63. “A good estimate is a estimate that provides a clear <br />enough view of the project reality to allow the <br />project leadership to make good decisions about <br />how to control the project to hit<br />its targets”<br />[Steve McConnell, Software Estimation]<br />
    64. 64. Psychology working for us.<br /><ul><li> Be aware we don’t like</li></ul> being uncertain<br /><ul><li> Use estimates to humbly</li></ul> understand unknowns<br /><ul><li> Create team unity that is</li></ul> quick to extinguish unknowns<br />
    65. 65. Questions?<br />
    66. 66. http://gosquids.com/Estimation.pptxhttp://gosquids.com/Estimation.mp3<br />

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