Practical Software Estimation Measurement

John Staiger's blog

Why Should I Care about the Actual Data? The Project Is Complete.

"The game ain't over 'til it's over." - Yogi Berra

Baseball season is here and with apologies to the late Mr. Yogi Berra, “it’s like déjà vu all over again.”

Why would a project team or program management office (PMO) take the time and spend the resources to collect information about a project that was just completed? Isn’t this the time when victory is declared and everyone runs for the hills? In many cases, delving into what happened and what actual costs and durations were incurred can seem like an exercise in self-flagellation.

Historical data is arguably the most valuable input available in the software estimation process. While other inputs such as size and available duration or staffing can be seen as constraints, properly collected historical data moves the activity from the realm of estimating closer to “factimating.”

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Data SLIM Suite

Getting a Good Start in Software Estimation

Software Estimation Good StartHow in the world does landing on an aircraft carrier relate to software estimation? Anyone who has ever experienced the terror joy of landing a jet on an aircraft carrier, especially on that dark, stormy night with no moon and a pitching deck, appreciates the importance of a good start. Your line-up is critical, as is your airspeed, angle-of-attack and attention to the "ball" – that tiny little yellow dot between the rows of green lights. As a former Bombardier/Navigator in the Grumman A6E Intruder, I have teamed with pilots on over 300 landings, all of which I have lived through. My job was to monitor and call the line-up and radar altimeter, handle the radios, manage the fuel and generally avoid sounding terrified for the entire evolution.

The process was made significantly easier if we arrived at the 3/4 mile point behind the ship at the right airspeed, gross weight, angle of attack, altitude and line up. Sort of like juggling a bunch of skittish cats.

But when all those parameters came together, we had a good start. When embarking on a software development project, or any engineering project, it’s equally important to have a strong foundation. That means having a solid idea of the characteristics of the project, what resources are (or should be) available, what duration is most likely and how good does it have to be. A software estimation tool can provide the project manager with this essential information.

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