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26 January 2008

Project Estimating

Research and practical experience suggests that estimating is one of the key opportunities for projects to set themselves up to fail.

Basically you ask the team to take an educated guess how much effort, time and money it will take to tackle this new, unique, ill defined problem. Or you make a less educated guess yourself. You are then held to that estimate by the sponsor and accounting people.

When down the track your estimate was too low your bullish attitude is seen as incompetence. You failed to meet your self defined targets. And if you come in below estimates you get a reputation as a budget padder.

The traditional approach to this issue in the corporate project world has been to spend months estimating and re-estimating until most of the uncertainty has been cut away.

Fortunately there are resources around to help you. Mike at Leading answers has posted an excellent article on Estimating Best Practices.

Recently I discoverred the webiste for a product called Planix which says it calculates estimates based upon a bunch of things like use cases, and so on whichthen calculates function points and a bunch of other mysterious things to come up with time estimates.

I like the idea. Has anyone tried it or a similar product out?

Note to self; Pam Morris of Total Metrics is referred to regularly when talking about function point in Melbourne Circles.