Estimation

Estimation

A Year in Review

As 2013 begins to wind down and everyone begins making plans for 2014, I wanted to take a moment to reflect on all the projects we’ve worked on this year.  Despite our relatively small company size, we’ve managed to accomplish quite a bit over the last year.  Below, I’ll recap everything we’ve been up to and also highlight some of our great resources and publications in case you missed them earlier:

Bottom-Up? Not So Fast...

One of the most common objections we hear from companies with regard to getting started with top-down estimation is that it’s not needed, because they already have a detailed planning spreadsheet in place. Customers will concede that their estimation practices are not perfect, but that they are working “OK.” But, when it comes to spending your company’s money on software projects is “OK” enough?  

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Estimation

Webinar Replay: Bringing Estimation and Business Intelligence to the Enterprise

If you were unable to attend our recent webinar, Bringing Estimation and Business Intelligence to the Enterprise, a replay is now available.

Successful software development estimates depend upon more than just inputs, especially at the enterprise level. They require collaboration between stakeholders, consistency in estimation methods, and historical basis. It's also essential to account for uncertainty and risk. In this webinar, Keith Ciocco demonstrates how SLIM-Estimate and SLIM-WebServices work together to bring reliable business intelligence to the enterprise, while leveraging historical data to increase estimation accuracy and credibility.

Watch the replay!

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Webinars Estimation

Flattening the Cone of Uncertainty

Estimation Cone of Uncertainty

image via Techwell

A large part of software estimation is dealing with the unknown. At the earliest stages of a software project, the uncertainty surrounding schedule and budget is at its highest and diminishes as a project reaches completion. In the estimation community, we refer to this as the "cone of uncertainty." Of course, it is at the widest point of this cone where estimation is typically needed. So how can organizations keep their customers feeling secure and informed when requirements are still being flushed out and budgets aren't yet established? In his recent a blog post on Techwell, Noel Wurst identifies strategies for flattening the dreaded cone of uncertainty.

Read the full post here!

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QSM News Estimation

What Can Goldilocks Teach about Software Estimating?

You may not be aware that in 1837 when Robert Southey published his popular retelling of the Three Bears story, the U.S. experienced the “Panic of 1837,” a financial crisis that touched off a decade long recession featuring unemployment, pessimism, lowered profits/prices/wages, and blamed on domestic and foreign origins. While we might consider 1837 a simpler time - it was without modern conveniences like indoor plumbing, the internet, and supersonic travel – some aspects of human behavior and communication aren’t that much different today. I thought about this when I was keynoting the 20th anniversary EuroSPI2 conference (software process improvement) in Ireland, the same week that I read the following in the British press

“The Department for Work and Pensions has dropped a coalition government scheme to avert software disasters from its £2bn Universal Credit programme” forecasting the cancelation of the largest ever agile software development project – a project now four plus years behind schedule with potentially billions of taxpayer funds at risk.  

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Estimation

Webinar - Bringing Estimation and Business Intelligence to the Enterprise

Watch the webinar replay for Bringing Estimation and Business Intelligence to the Enterprise, presented by Keith Ciocco.

Successful software development estimates depend upon more than just inputs, especially at the enterprise level. They require collaboration between stakeholders, consistency in estimation methods, and historical basis. It's also essential to account for uncertainty and risk. In this webinar, Keith Ciocco demonstrates how SLIM-Estimate and SLIM-WebServices work together to bring reliable business intelligence to the enterprise, while leveraging historical data to increase estimation accuracy and credibility.

As Vice President of QSM, Keith has more than 25 years of experience working in sales and customer service, with 17 of those years spent at QSM. Keith's primary responsibilities include managing business development, existing client relations, customer retention and response.

Watch the replay!

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Webinars Estimation

New Article - All In: Collaborative Software Estimates

Collaborative Software EstimationSoftware projects often commit to unrealistic schedule and budget expectations due to little or no information about the size and scope or productivity. Yet the business reality is that projects must be estimated early in the life cycle to support business goals and strategic planning. These challenges can be overcome with a transparent and collaborative estimation process. It depends on metrics collection, analysis, risk comparison, and a structure for sharing the right information with the right people at the right time.

In an article recently published on Projects at Work, Laura Zuber explores the benefits of collaborative software project estimates and identifies best practices for implementing them.

Read the full article!

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Estimation Articles

How to Use Big Data to Improve Your Software Projects

In the recent Washington Post article How the Obama Campaign Won the Race for Voter Data, Joel Kowsky writes about how the 2012 Obama campaign used analytics to improve their campaign strategy, and to ultimately secure the presidential victory.  

Regardless of where you stand on the political spectrum, it’s hard to argue that Barack Obama’s campaign strategy was anything short of impressive.  As soon as Obama took office in 2009, his team began preparing for his 2012 campaign.  From the start there was a strong emphasis on measuring the campaign’s progress.  Jim Messina, Obama’s 2012 campaign manager, stated 

“There’s always been two campaigns since the Internet was invented, the campaign online and the campaign on the doors.  What I wanted was, I didn’t care where you organized, what time you organized, how you organized, as long as I could track it, I can measure it, and I can encourage you to do more of it.”

The team began by conducting a postmortem study on their 2008 campaign where they analyzed the number of homes visited, phone calls placed, and voters registered by each field organizer and volunteer.  The result was a 500 page report which highlighted areas of improvement for the 2012 campaign.  

The suggestions led the Obama campaign to invest in building customized software that would integrate all the data the campaign had collected on voters, donors, and volunteers and link to individual voter profile.  This software analyzed previously collected data to calculate the likelihood of candidate support, the likelihood of election day turnout, and the degree of persuasion for each voter.  

New Article: Is It Bigger Than a Breadbox? Getting Started with Release Estimation

It’s becoming clear to organizations adopting Agile methods that one still needs to estimate how long a project or a release of a product will take. It won’t suffice for businesses to simply take guesses or accept unreasonable constraints. We must be able to derive credible estimates, based on a history of similar projects. How can we estimate a project in advance while still maintaining the ability to manage the backlog in an agile manner?

In this article, recently published on Projectmanagement.com, QSM's Andy Berner answers that question, compares release-level estimation to the techniques used for iteration estimation, and gives some pointers on getting started with release estimation in an agile environment.

Andy Berner is a software engineer and methodologist. He came to QSM in 2012 after over 25 years in both large and small software organizations, including, among others, EDS (now HP), Rational Software and IBM. Based on his experience in almost every role in software development, Andy has consulted with numerous organizations on using software development methods and tools to improve productivity and quality.

Read the full article here!

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Estimation Agile Articles

"Building an Estimation Center of Excellence" Webinar Replay and Q&A Highlights

If you were unable to attend "Building an Estimation Center of Excellence," the webinar replay and slides are now available. Here are the Q&A highlights:

How do you handle estimating change requests (scope creep). Do you estimate the entire project again, or do you just estimate the impact of the change requests?

It would depend on where we were in the project lifecycle. If we were still fairly early on (somewhere between the feasibility assessment and the refined estimate), I would add those into my sizing assumptions and re-estimate the project. If I'm already farther along and I get changes when I'm already constructing the system, then I would use my adaptive forecasting and add those in within the context of everything else I have to build as part of the deliverable release. This is because the impact will be bigger if we're farther along and we already have everything integrated and we're into testing versus earlier on when not a lot has been constructed. QSM's forecasting capabilities will be able to tell us the impact on schedule and cost.

Should the center of excellence estimate all projects regardless of size, or if the project is small, then have the project teams estimate it?

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Webinars Estimation