Software Development Best Practices Blog

17 Theses on Software Estimation (Expanded)

This post is part of an ongoing discussion with Ron Jeffries, which originated from some comments I made about #NoEstimates. You can read my original "17 Theses on Software Estimation" post here. That post has been completely subsumed by this post if you want to just read this one. You can read Ron's response to my original 17 Theses article 

  1. Posted on August 18, 2015 4:51:PM by Steve McConnell to 10x Software Development
  2. estimation, Management, Management practices

17 Theses on Software Estimation

(with apologies to Martin Luther for the title) Arriving late to the #NoEstimates discussion, I’m amazed at some of the assumptions that have gone unchallenged, and I’m also amazed at the absence of some fundamental points that no one seems to have made so far. The point of this article is to state unambiguously what I see as the arguments in favor of estimation in software and put #NoEstimates in context.   1. Estimation is often done badly and ineffectively and in an overly...

  1. Posted on August 2, 2015 4:20:PM by Steve McConnell to 10x Software Development
  2. estimation

#NoEstimates - Response to Ron Jeffries

Ron Jeffries posted a thoughtful response to my #NoEstimates video. While I like some elements of his response, it still ultimately glosses over problems with #NoEstimates.  I'll walk through Ron's critique and show where I think it makes good points vs. where it misses the point.  Ron's First Remodel of my Kitchen...

  1. Posted on July 31, 2015 6:22:PM by Steve McConnell to 10x Software Development
  2. estimation

Estimation Types

When I get asked for an estimate, my first response is not a cost, a date, or a functionality number. It is not even #NoEstimates. My first response is a question: "What type of 'estimate' do you want?" What I need to know is what will the questioner do with my estimate. I usually see six action types: They need to make a high probability (practically guaranteed) commitment to somebody else They need to make a go/no-go decision They need...

  1. Posted on August 26, 2013 12:41:PM by Earl Beede to Practicing Earl
  2. Agile, humor, estimation

10 Deadly Sins of Software Estimation: Free Webinar

I’ll be giving a free webinar on the 10 Deadly Sins of Software Estimation on April 28, 2011 at 10:00 AM Pacific Time. Here’s a link to sign up for it: Here’s the overview: The average project overruns its budget and schedule estimates by 50-80...

  1. Posted on April 12, 2011 12:36:PM by Steve McConnell to 10x Software Development
  2. Presentation, estimation, Management, Webinar

New Software Estimation Survey

I’m working with Ryan Nelson and Mike Morris at University of Virginia to conduct a new survey of software estimation in practice. If you can take just a few minutes to answer some survey questions, this will help us get an update on the kinds of estimation practices people are actually using today. Here’s the link to the survey: Thanks for your participation....

  1. Posted on March 21, 2011 2:16:PM by Steve McConnell to 10x Software Development
  2. estimation, Management, white papers, Articles

Origins of 10X – How Valid is the Underlying Research?

I recently contributed a chapter to Making Software (Oram and Wilson, eds., O'Reilly, 2011). The purpose of this edited collection of essays is to pull together research-based writing on software engineering. In essence, the purpose is to say, "What do we really know (quantitatively based), and what do we only kind of think we know (subjectively based)?" My chapter, "What Does 10X Mean" is an edited version of my 2008 blog entry "

  1. Posted on January 9, 2011 6:15:PM by Steve McConnell to 10x Software Development
  2. Methods & Processes, Testing & QA, Technique, Agile, estimation, requirements, productivity, Management, Design, Maintenance, 10x, research, programmer productivity, Articles, Books, Construction

It’s Effort, Not Duration

A discussion on the LinkedIn Certified Scrum Master board led me to read an article on Mike Cohn’s blog titled, “It’s Effort, Not Complexity.” Mike argues that stakeholders don’t care about how hard it is to do something,...

  1. Posted on August 24, 2010 8:29:PM by Application Administrator to Retrospectives
  2. Methods & Processes, Technique, Agile, planning, estimation, Management

Dear Construx: Story Point Inflation Causes Ever-Expanding Project!

Dear Construx:   How do you deal with the risk of Story Point inflation throughout a Scrum project? My team goes through release planning, ending up with a backlog where each item has been estimated using story points. Based upon our estimates of story points and team velocity, we predict, and commit to, a release date. So far, so good. As our project progresses, the Product Owner breaks larger ‘epics’ into...

  1. Posted on August 9, 2010 6:22:PM by John Clifford to Retrospectives
  2. Methods & Processes, Technique, Agile, Scrum, planning, estimation, Management, practices

Determining Duration on Scrum Projects

One thing I’m often asked is, how do you come up with valid project estimates in Scrum? After all, Scrum doesn’t want you to worry about more than the current sprint, does it? The basic rule of estimation is, estimate size/effort/complexity and then derive duration. For Scrum, we follow the industry best practice of using story points, an arbitrary measure of relative effort/size/complexity that is not time-based. Let me explain by using one of the analogies from my training. It’s...

  1. Posted on August 6, 2010 5:41:PM by John Clifford to Retrospectives
  2. Methods & Processes, Technique, project management, Agile, Scrum, planning, estimation, Management