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Jess Jurick | @jessjurick WordCamp Milwaukee 2015
The Importance of
Estimating
Jess Jurick
VP of Client Delivery
Jess Jurick | @jessjurick WordCamp Milwaukee 2015
Estimation Theory
How do we think about estimating?
Jess Jurick | @jessjurick WordCamp Milwaukee 2015
Predicting the
Future?
That’s hard.
Humans are bad at it.
Jess Jurick | @jessjurick WordCamp Milwaukee 2015
Predicting the
Future?
Animals are bad at it too.
Jess Jurick | @jessjurick WordCamp Milwaukee 2015
Instead…
Science!
Informed hypotheses
constructed to be tested,
revisited, and revised.
Jess Jurick | @jessjurick WordCamp Milwaukee 2015
Estimation Theory
• Understand the problem
• Define the details
• Develop an approach
• Identify the variables (controlled and uncontrolled)
• Present a Level of Effort
• Revisit and revise as needed
Jess Jurick | @jessjurick WordCamp Milwaukee 2015
Counting Jelly Beans
Can you guess how many there are in these jars?
Jess Jurick | @jessjurick WordCamp Milwaukee 2015
– Vasken Hauri
“The challenge in estimating is to achieve a
reasonable measure of accuracy, while not
spending an inordinate amount of time on
creating the estimate.”
Jess Jurick | @jessjurick WordCamp Milwaukee 2015
Preparing for an Estimate
• Before starting the estimation process, it’s important
to determine what we know and what we don’t
know. Anything unknown should be researched and
clarified prior to estimation, if possible. If not, this
must be noted in the estimate.
• More minds = more steps and effort accounted for.
Don’t estimate alone! Gather the project team and
assemble a list of required steps in order to be as
complete as possible.
Jess Jurick | @jessjurick WordCamp Milwaukee 2015
Defining the Steps
• Create a written list of items that need to be
accomplished to complete the work being
estimated. Do not attempt to assign levels of effort
to these granular tasks.
• Workshop the tasks list with colleagues to improve
the chance of catching missing tasks.
• Remember to involve appropriate subject-matter
experts (e.g. designers) where appropriate to
determine the granular tasks list.
Jess Jurick | @jessjurick WordCamp Milwaukee 2015
Techniques for Estimating
Tasks
• Program evaluation and review technique (PERT)
• Best/worst/average case estimation (simplified
PERT)
• SCRUM estimates (small, medium, and large
‘buckets’)
Jess Jurick | @jessjurick WordCamp Milwaukee 2015
PERT Advantages
• Provides an estimate of Level of Effort (LoE) as well
as minimum timeline to complete the project.
• Identifies project dependencies, and therefore
provides a mechanism to predict overall delays
based on missed deadlines.
• Accounts for Optimistic, Likely, and Pessimistic
projections. This can be a powerful technique for
reminding all parties this is an estimate.
Jess Jurick | @jessjurick WordCamp Milwaukee 2015
PERT Drawbacks
• Requires a lot of effort to complete in the full,
traditional sense. For example, a true PERT requires
a Gantt chart, timeline, multiple people to estimate
each granular task with Optimistic, Likely, and
Pessimistic LoEs, etc.
• Does a great job of illustrating an ideal timeline, but
is just as susceptible to delays as any other means
of estimation.
Jess Jurick | @jessjurick WordCamp Milwaukee 2015
Simplified PERT Advantages
• Provides for an Optimistic, Likely, and Pessimistic
estimate for each granular task.
• Results in three estimates (O/L/P) that provide a
best/worst/middle case for the overall project LoE.
• Performed by one or more engineer in conjunction
with the PM and subject-matter experts.
• Mitigates overruns (or underruns) on the per-task
level by averaging them across the entire estimate.
Jess Jurick | @jessjurick WordCamp Milwaukee 2015
Simplified PERT Drawbacks
• Creates 3 estimates without a real sense of the
likelihood of any of the 3 outcomes.
• Using this technique without also considering
individual task weighting can skew estimates.
• Smaller group of individuals performing the estimate
means it’s more likely that some tasks or LoEs will be
incorrectly estimated.
Jess Jurick | @jessjurick WordCamp Milwaukee 2015
SCRUM Advantages
• Splits all tasks into Small, Medium, or Large. Commonly,
this equates to < 4 hours, 4-8 hours, and 8-16 hours.
• Very simple and quick with some practice.
• Forces granular breakdown of tasks that might
otherwise be considered as a single task. This in turn
improves the completeness of the estimate.
• Despite the “bucket” approach, averages tend to work
themselves out across the project.
Jess Jurick | @jessjurick WordCamp Milwaukee 2015
SCRUM Drawbacks
• Relies on a large group of tasks to achieve a reliable
average.
• Does not provide an estimate of completion date,
only of total LoE.
• Requires that all tasks (even large ones with
relatively stable and known LoEs) be broken down
into chunks of less than 16 hours each.
Jess Jurick | @jessjurick WordCamp Milwaukee 2015
Intelligent Estimation
• Effective estimates identify pain points and low-
hanging fruit in an effort to guide intelligent
decision-making by the client.
• Clearly state all relevant dependencies (internal and
external) to prevent confusion down the road.
• Remember: it is neither improper nor inappropriate
to directly and clearly state the effect of any
potential delay. It is our job as consultants to do so.
Jess Jurick | @jessjurick WordCamp Milwaukee 2015
Intelligent Estimation
• Don’t be too granular in presenting the estimate to
the client.
• Provide roll-ups of the granular tasks that identify
effort by phase and deliverable (things the client can
see and understand) rather than technical tasks
(things we need to understand).
Jess Jurick | @jessjurick WordCamp Milwaukee 2015
Communicating Estimates
• Statements of Work
• Shared Task Lists
• Status Reports
Jess Jurick | @jessjurick WordCamp Milwaukee 2015
Communicating Estimates
• Shared Task Lists
• 10000ft
• Resource & Capacity Reports
• Project Reporting Dashboard
Jess Jurick | @jessjurick WordCamp Milwaukee 2015
10000ft
Forecasting Tool
Jess Jurick | @jessjurick WordCamp Milwaukee 2015
Project Reporting Dashboard
Internal Estimate Tracking
Jess Jurick | @jessjurick WordCamp Milwaukee 2015
Why does all this matter?
• Estimates inform process and vice versa. If our estimates
aren’t good, our processes can’t really be either.
• Estimates that clearly define risk, expected outcomes, and
places for further discovery inspire confidence from our
clients and, ultimately, in our own ability to deliver with
quality.
• Approaching estimates as hypotheses feels better. When
something feels better we have more confidence in our
ability to do it successfully and, as a result, often do.
Jess Jurick | @jessjurick WordCamp Milwaukee 2015
Thank You
• Work for us: jobs@10up.com
• Work with us: sales@10up.com
• Tweet me: @jessjurick
• Leave comments:
simplecanv.as

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Estimation Theory: Techniques for Developing Accurate Project Forecasts

  • 1. Jess Jurick | @jessjurick WordCamp Milwaukee 2015 The Importance of Estimating Jess Jurick VP of Client Delivery
  • 2. Jess Jurick | @jessjurick WordCamp Milwaukee 2015 Estimation Theory How do we think about estimating?
  • 3. Jess Jurick | @jessjurick WordCamp Milwaukee 2015 Predicting the Future? That’s hard. Humans are bad at it.
  • 4. Jess Jurick | @jessjurick WordCamp Milwaukee 2015 Predicting the Future? Animals are bad at it too.
  • 5. Jess Jurick | @jessjurick WordCamp Milwaukee 2015 Instead… Science! Informed hypotheses constructed to be tested, revisited, and revised.
  • 6. Jess Jurick | @jessjurick WordCamp Milwaukee 2015 Estimation Theory • Understand the problem • Define the details • Develop an approach • Identify the variables (controlled and uncontrolled) • Present a Level of Effort • Revisit and revise as needed
  • 7. Jess Jurick | @jessjurick WordCamp Milwaukee 2015 Counting Jelly Beans Can you guess how many there are in these jars?
  • 8. Jess Jurick | @jessjurick WordCamp Milwaukee 2015 – Vasken Hauri “The challenge in estimating is to achieve a reasonable measure of accuracy, while not spending an inordinate amount of time on creating the estimate.”
  • 9. Jess Jurick | @jessjurick WordCamp Milwaukee 2015 Preparing for an Estimate • Before starting the estimation process, it’s important to determine what we know and what we don’t know. Anything unknown should be researched and clarified prior to estimation, if possible. If not, this must be noted in the estimate. • More minds = more steps and effort accounted for. Don’t estimate alone! Gather the project team and assemble a list of required steps in order to be as complete as possible.
  • 10. Jess Jurick | @jessjurick WordCamp Milwaukee 2015 Defining the Steps • Create a written list of items that need to be accomplished to complete the work being estimated. Do not attempt to assign levels of effort to these granular tasks. • Workshop the tasks list with colleagues to improve the chance of catching missing tasks. • Remember to involve appropriate subject-matter experts (e.g. designers) where appropriate to determine the granular tasks list.
  • 11. Jess Jurick | @jessjurick WordCamp Milwaukee 2015 Techniques for Estimating Tasks • Program evaluation and review technique (PERT) • Best/worst/average case estimation (simplified PERT) • SCRUM estimates (small, medium, and large ‘buckets’)
  • 12. Jess Jurick | @jessjurick WordCamp Milwaukee 2015 PERT Advantages • Provides an estimate of Level of Effort (LoE) as well as minimum timeline to complete the project. • Identifies project dependencies, and therefore provides a mechanism to predict overall delays based on missed deadlines. • Accounts for Optimistic, Likely, and Pessimistic projections. This can be a powerful technique for reminding all parties this is an estimate.
  • 13. Jess Jurick | @jessjurick WordCamp Milwaukee 2015 PERT Drawbacks • Requires a lot of effort to complete in the full, traditional sense. For example, a true PERT requires a Gantt chart, timeline, multiple people to estimate each granular task with Optimistic, Likely, and Pessimistic LoEs, etc. • Does a great job of illustrating an ideal timeline, but is just as susceptible to delays as any other means of estimation.
  • 14. Jess Jurick | @jessjurick WordCamp Milwaukee 2015 Simplified PERT Advantages • Provides for an Optimistic, Likely, and Pessimistic estimate for each granular task. • Results in three estimates (O/L/P) that provide a best/worst/middle case for the overall project LoE. • Performed by one or more engineer in conjunction with the PM and subject-matter experts. • Mitigates overruns (or underruns) on the per-task level by averaging them across the entire estimate.
  • 15. Jess Jurick | @jessjurick WordCamp Milwaukee 2015 Simplified PERT Drawbacks • Creates 3 estimates without a real sense of the likelihood of any of the 3 outcomes. • Using this technique without also considering individual task weighting can skew estimates. • Smaller group of individuals performing the estimate means it’s more likely that some tasks or LoEs will be incorrectly estimated.
  • 16. Jess Jurick | @jessjurick WordCamp Milwaukee 2015 SCRUM Advantages • Splits all tasks into Small, Medium, or Large. Commonly, this equates to < 4 hours, 4-8 hours, and 8-16 hours. • Very simple and quick with some practice. • Forces granular breakdown of tasks that might otherwise be considered as a single task. This in turn improves the completeness of the estimate. • Despite the “bucket” approach, averages tend to work themselves out across the project.
  • 17. Jess Jurick | @jessjurick WordCamp Milwaukee 2015 SCRUM Drawbacks • Relies on a large group of tasks to achieve a reliable average. • Does not provide an estimate of completion date, only of total LoE. • Requires that all tasks (even large ones with relatively stable and known LoEs) be broken down into chunks of less than 16 hours each.
  • 18. Jess Jurick | @jessjurick WordCamp Milwaukee 2015 Intelligent Estimation • Effective estimates identify pain points and low- hanging fruit in an effort to guide intelligent decision-making by the client. • Clearly state all relevant dependencies (internal and external) to prevent confusion down the road. • Remember: it is neither improper nor inappropriate to directly and clearly state the effect of any potential delay. It is our job as consultants to do so.
  • 19. Jess Jurick | @jessjurick WordCamp Milwaukee 2015 Intelligent Estimation • Don’t be too granular in presenting the estimate to the client. • Provide roll-ups of the granular tasks that identify effort by phase and deliverable (things the client can see and understand) rather than technical tasks (things we need to understand).
  • 20. Jess Jurick | @jessjurick WordCamp Milwaukee 2015 Communicating Estimates • Statements of Work • Shared Task Lists • Status Reports
  • 21. Jess Jurick | @jessjurick WordCamp Milwaukee 2015 Communicating Estimates • Shared Task Lists • 10000ft • Resource & Capacity Reports • Project Reporting Dashboard
  • 22. Jess Jurick | @jessjurick WordCamp Milwaukee 2015 10000ft Forecasting Tool
  • 23. Jess Jurick | @jessjurick WordCamp Milwaukee 2015 Project Reporting Dashboard Internal Estimate Tracking
  • 24. Jess Jurick | @jessjurick WordCamp Milwaukee 2015 Why does all this matter? • Estimates inform process and vice versa. If our estimates aren’t good, our processes can’t really be either. • Estimates that clearly define risk, expected outcomes, and places for further discovery inspire confidence from our clients and, ultimately, in our own ability to deliver with quality. • Approaching estimates as hypotheses feels better. When something feels better we have more confidence in our ability to do it successfully and, as a result, often do.
  • 25. Jess Jurick | @jessjurick WordCamp Milwaukee 2015 Thank You • Work for us: jobs@10up.com • Work with us: sales@10up.com • Tweet me: @jessjurick • Leave comments: simplecanv.as