The challenges surrounding software estimation are both well known and well documented. Most discussions on this topic center around the technical challenges estimators face: tight schedules, unclear scope, evolving requirements, and accounting for dependencies and risk. But there's a more fundamental challenge we don't hear so much about – educating stakeholders and making the business case for structured, yet practical estimation, and why it is a critical success factor.
Let's face it: process improvement is rarely cost-free. Businesses expect a visible return on investments made in estimation tools and training. The benefits of quality software estimation can be compelling, but moving decision makers from "open to the idea of estimation" to "willing to commit money and resources" can be difficult for busy analysts and managers juggling multiple roles and tasks.
In her latest video, QSM's Laura Zuber explains what makes a good software estimate and how empirically-based estimation helps projects:
- Produce credible estimates quickly (when they're most needed).
- Predict schedule/budget overruns.
- Use real project data to expose "no win" scenarios and overly optimistic bids.
- Set realistic expectations and negotiate achievable outcomes.
- Identify and mitigate risks with appropriate contingency.
The video - based on QSM's recently revamped SLIM-Estimate training - provides a great overview of the different approaches to software estimation and how SLIM-Estimate has helped firms save time and money since 1978. It's a great resource, whether you just want to learn more about estimation or want to build support for it within your organization.