Agile development and Scrum in particular have opened the door to powerful new estimation approaches. This course provides many useful rules of thumb, procedures, and lightweight math for creating software estimates ("the art of estimation") and briefly introduces mathematically-intensive approaches to creating software project estimates ("the science of estimation").

This course features extensive lab work to give you hands-on experience creating many different kinds of software estimates--for large, medium, and small projects as well as calibrating estimates to be accurate for your specific development environment. This seminar is based on the best selling book Software Estimation: Demystifying the Black Art, by Steve McConnell.

2-day seminar 


"John did a great job of applying his lessons to real examples from our company." -- Jesse Thomas, Medtronic

"John provided detailed instructions that were tailored (on the fly) to our specific needs. Also, John was able to provide infinite help in giving us direction to help bring agility to our organization. " -- Mark Wase, TransUnion


You will understand the context in which Agile estimation occurs, and learn when to use Scrum-specific techniques and when to use more general practices, as well as details of how to implement many specific estimation techniques.

Who Should Attend

This seminar will be useful to scrum masters, project managers, product managers, program managers, technical leads, software engineers, developers and anyone else who wants to learn to effectively estimate software feature sets, costs and schedules.

Certification Information

14 PDU

 PDU Reporting Instructions



All of our public classes are held at the Construx Training Center

Estimation Background

  • Estimation "art" vs. estimation "science"
  • Estimates, targets, and commitments
  • Estimation focus: features, schedule, cost/resources
  • Kinds of estimates: macro vs. micro, top-down vs. bottom up, algorithmic vs. heuristic
  • State of the art and potential for estimation accuracy

Estimation Process

  • Differences in estimating agile projects vs. plan-driven projects
  • Basic steps in creating a software estimate
  • Best estimation approaches by project phase
  • Estimate refinement
  • Standardized estimating procedures for agile projects

Estimation Error

  • Software's Cone of Uncertainty
  • Applying the Cone of Uncertainty to Agile projects
  • Building your own Cone of Uncertainty
  • The good, the bad, and the ugly: evaluating estimates
  • Measuring Error: Residual Error, RE, MRE, VFE, and BRE
  • Detecting errors in the estimation process itself

Popular Estimation Methods

  • Off-the-cuff estimation
  • Typical judgment-based estimation
  • Structured expert judgment
  • Decomposition
  • Group estimation techniques
  • Estimation checklists

Better Estimation Methods

  • Counting, computing, and judgment
  • Story points
  • Planning poker
  • Velocity
  • Release burn-down charts
  • Iteration burn-down charts
  • Wide-band Delphi
  • Estimation by analogy
  • Proxy-based estimation
  • The PERT formula
  • Improving individual contributor estimates

Special Issues in Feature/Scope Estimation

  • The Feature Staircase
  • The Feature Cone of Uncertainty
  • T-Shirt Sizing
  • Software's diseconomy of scale

Special Issues in Effort Estimation

  • Calibration
  • Industry data
  • Why Organizational factors influence estimates more than you might think
  • Organizational data
  • Project data

Special Issues in Schedule Estimation

  • The schedule equation
  • Effect of schedule compression and expansion
  • The "impossible zone"

Human Roles in Estimation

  • Estimate presentation techniques
  • How to explain and defend an estimate
  • Estimation and negotiation

Earl Beede

Earl Beede, CSDP is a Senior Fellow at Construx Software, where he designs and leads seminars and provides consulting services on early project-lifecycle practices, ...

John Clifford

John Clifford is a Senior Fellow and Agile Practices Lead at Construx Software. John got his first software development job at a startup, while still in college, ...

Meilir Page-Jones

Meilir Page-Jones is the award-winning author of Practical Project Management (1985), The Practical Guide to Structured Systems Design (1988), What Every Programmer ...