This course provides many useful rules of thumb and procedures for creating software estimates ("the art of estimation") and briefly introduces mathematical 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. You will learn techniques for making sure estimation is treated as an analytical rather than a political process, and you will explore how to negotiate effectively with other project stakeholders (such as marketing, management and your clients) so that everyone wins. This seminar is based on the best-selling book, Software Estimation: Demystifying the Black Art, by Steve McConnell. 

2-day seminar


  • Common Sources of Estimation Error
  • Key Concept: The Cone of Uncertainty
  • Good and Bad Estimation Processes
  • Estimation Error
  • Strengths and Weaknesses of Popular Estimation Methods
  • Better Estimation Methods
  • The Critical Role of Historical Data
  • Using Judgment-Based Estimation Effectively
  • Issues in Scope Estimation
  • Issues in Effort Estimation
  • Issues in Schedule Estimation
  • Estimation on Agile Projects
  • Estimation in the Larger Organizational Context


    Stars 4.5 5160 Ratings

    "The seminar was extremely good, very well delivered and gave us a quite a good leg up on beginning our process. I believe it saved us money in that it was much more effective than searching through and trying to decipher all the literature and research on this topic. "  -- Ken Hadfield, Emergis

    "This was by far the best, more realistic, pragmatic, & ballanced software estimation class (balance of academic/theory & practicle experience) that I have been exposed to over 15 years. I was surprised!"  -- Paul Vancil, AMD

    "One of the best and most useful classes I've ever taken. Activities that we can implement immediately to improve our ability to accurately estimate projects. "  -- Scott Hermes, HIMSS

    "Steve's credibility as an expert in the field is astounding--impossible to overestimate the value of having Steve presenting this training. "  -- Wayne Malkin, FileNet

    "Excellent exposure of numerical content in a clarifying context. It's very valuable to get a summary of the field from an articulate expert. "  -- Michael Lagaly, Authorize.Net

    "Most Valuable: Lab/Groupwork sessions -- very well designed. Very well run seminar. Great content. "  -- Jim Carroll, Mobica

    "I really appeciate the practical nature of the course. I had a number of improvements that I could immediately deploy to improve my planning"  -- Larry McCutchan, Medrad

    "Great course! I enjoyed the material and it was extremely beneficial to my job."  -- Nathan Mancine, Medrad

    "Steve clearly has an excellent command of the material and his presentation style is one of the best I've seen."  -- Regis George, Medrad

    "I particularly like that your instructors are also working consultants.  Some classes that I have taken in the past were well organized and had good content, but the instructor couldn't handle questions outside of the outline very well."  -- Donald Miner, Oregon Legislative Information Systems

    "Excellent course, instructor. Interesting material, and most importantly useful."  -- Vasilli Ryjikh, RIM

    "Excellent, relevant material very well presented.  Good flexibility and tailoring of material to BBC."  -- Mike Brown, BBC

    "Steve delivered the "Software Estimation" class by Construx software in an extremely clear manner. His examples went well beyond the material that was "in the book." I would clearly recommend his services as a trainer and couldn't help but implement much of what he taught us. His explanations of his experiences bring theory to life. Learning from Steve was a joy. "  -- Kevin Benton, IT Consultant

    "The class started from basics [and moved to] to some valuable advice that can be immediately incorporated into my work. Great class. "  -- Poem Balagangadhar, Capital One

    "I think all our software developers should experience this software estimation class. "  -- Doug Hoeffel, Camtronics Medical Systems

    "This class was great! It really opened my eyes to effective estimation. "  -- Stephen Schaff, ARUP Laboratories

    "Well worthwhile, thanks. This will impact how we do business. "  -- Mark Tschetter, Logikos

    "Best estimation coursework I've ever experienced in 20+ years. "  -- Tim Williams, Logikos

    "Information given is backed up by real-life examples. "  -- Francois Boisvert, Macadamian Tech

    "Earl is one of the best instructors I have ever listened too."  -- Dan Clare, Federal Home Loan Bank of Boston

    "Overall it is a great class with a very knowldgeable instructor."  -- Fabio Lacerda, EMC Corporation

    "Earl is an excellent presenter - the best I've seen. We confronted him with many questions and scenarios we're faced with, and he answered us with very helpful information and insights gained from real world experience."  -- Colleen Harmon, County of San Luis Obispo

    "Great - I usually don't rate '5's, but presentation & content was excellent and spot on."  -- Ron Kiester, County of San Luis Obispo

    "One of the best seminars I have attended for a long time. "  -- N.P. Watkins, EMC

    "Construx always delivers quality sessions. Great Job!"  -- Fernando Zamora, McLane Advanced Technologies

    "Steve was great. Nice to get his insights into some of the specific problems we are trying to solve."  -- Bill Goleman, EMC

    "A good overview of available estimation methods along with an honest assessment of their value. "  -- Leslie Ekas, FileNet

    "Case studies were a real eye opener. Software estimation as a science is a big field. This course gave a quick intro of what is necessary and practical. "  -- Ram Kumar, Checkpoint Software

    "I found the class very interesting and productive. Thanks!"  -- Irina Mikityanskaya, Checkpoint Software

    "Worth coming from Denmark for."  -- Torben Koch, Webactivity

    "I enjoyed the labs, especially using structured decision making."  -- Harry John, Nextware Architects

    "Steve is a great instructor with deep knowledge. He know when the class had had enough of a topic and need to move on and when to dig deeper into a topic. "  -- Dave Lund, Microsoft

    "Most valuable: Large body of real-life client experience to ratify methodology suggestions. "  -- Buzz Dean, VoloMedia

    "Steve is a very down-to-earth presenter and instructor and he has a lot of credibility. "  -- Kristin Petersen, Knolls Atomic Power Laboratory

    "Dynamite lecturer!  Dynamite course!  Everyone in SW Mgt/Supervision/QA/Process should take this."  -- Craig Chester, BAE

    "Most valuable: Personal experiences imparted by Mr. McConnell. Your extensive experience in this area shows!"  -- Stephen Cox, VeriSign

    "Interesting course. Held our attention. Provoked discussion. "  -- Carol Cannizzaro, VeriSign

    "Steve has a phenomenal grasp of this information!"  -- Scott Tidyman, Expedia, Inc

    "Overall one of the best classes I have ever taken. The material was very effectively presented. "  -- George Hatoun, Expedia, Inc

    "Good seminar and great instructor with excellent knowledge and experience. "  -- Chenming Zhao, Expedia, Inc

    "The labs were very useful. The exercises seemed to model discussions I have in real dev meetings. Great class!"  -- Jeremy Scully, Expedia, Inc


    Who Should Attend

    This seminar will be useful to project managers, product managers, program managers, technical leads, software engineers, developers and anyone else who wants to learn to effectively estimate software 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
    • Kinds of estimates: macro vs. micro, top-down vs. bottom up, algorithmic vs. heuristic
    • State of the art and limits on estimation accuracy
    • Surprise: Estimation's real role on software projects

    Estimation Process

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

    Estimation Error

    • The good, the bad, and the ugly: evaluating estimates
    • Errors in the estimation process
    • Sources of project uncertainty
    • Software's Cone of Uncertainty

    Popular Estimation Methods

    • Off-the-cuff estimation
    • Using expert judgment successfully
    • Wide-band Delphi

    Better Estimation Methods

    • Estimation by analogy
    • Decomposition
    • Proxy-based estimation
    • Story points
    • The PERT formula
    • Putnam's Method

    Special Issues in Scope Estimation

    • Counting, Computing, and Judgment
    • Fuzzy Logic
    • T-Shirt Sizing
    • Software's diseconomy of scale

    Special Issues in Effort Estimation

    • Productivity variations across types of software
    • Calibration
    • Industry data
    • Historical company data
    • Project data
    • Estimating individuals' work

    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

    Steve McConnell

    Steve McConnell is CEO and Chief Software Engineer at Construx Software where he consults to a broad range of industries, teaches seminars, and oversees Construx’s ...

    Steve Tockey

    Steve Tockey is the Principal Consultant at Construx Software. During more than three and a half decades in the software industry, he has worked as a programmer, ...

    Bob Webber

    Bob Webber is a Senior Fellow at Construx with over 30 years of software experience delivering innovative products in telecommunications, entertainment and life ...

    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, ...