Are you tired of your development team under-estimating project work? Been burnt too many times? Attempting to quantify the associated effort and cost that goes into software development is not an easy task. Based on our experience gained from working across a wide breadth of mobile, desktop, and web development projects, estimating the overall effort required does not need to be a hair-raising experience. Estimation can be reliable provided your team follows some basic principles.
1. Does Everyone Know What We Are Building and Why?
Lots of projects start without everyone being aligned on goals and objectives. Yet, those differing perspectives inevitably come to the fore creating conflict, uncertainty, and frustration. Resolution comes – but with changes in direction and scope, delays, and increased costs. Does everything need to be defined in excruciating detail like the old waterfall days? No, however to estimate an agile project, alignment is still needed on what is being built and why. If you don’t have it, get the necessary people into a room, and work on achieving it until you do.
2. Get Two Perspectives On The Project
Irrespective of approach – bottom up, top down, features, tasks, or having more than one person develop the estimate – ensure that you have more than one scenario. Each approach will look at the problem differently and this will provide a more holistic perspective on the things that need to be done.
Once completed, compare the estimates and resolve the differences. What is factored into one estimate that is not in the other? Is there any double counting of some pieces of work? Where can you get efficiencies from doing things that are similar? Rinse and repeat until you get a tight enough range that you’re comfortable with it.
3. Use Past Knowledge
Get input from people who have done this type of work before – but only use it as a guide. Every project is different in terms of technology, integration points, and priorities – otherwise, why aren’t you using what’s already been built? When looking at past estimates, consider what has changed and how it helps or hinders this effort.
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