We suck on estimating size

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So, as a contracter:

  • Would you rather pick someone who promises they are right about the scope (.. lying..) and pay their risk premium
  • .. contract them, negotiate away the risk premium, only to see skilled resources shift to more profitable projects (once you are firmly in their grip)
  • .. contract them, and see them default
  • .. Or – pick someone who is honest about this fact, but promises to deliver runnable software monthly with what you require

As a contractee:

  • Would you sign up for a contract which you know is bad
  • Or pick a better client which you can have a thriving business relation with?

Just recently, I was approached by a startup company who needed a software built, and I was very honest about this fact. They went with another supplier. It stung a bit, but, just recently I heard that they have trouble with their funding. So in the end am glad I didn’t waste more time.

Sources and further readings:

  • Scott Ambler, Dr Dobbs Journal, "Is fixed-priced software unethical"
  • The Standish Group’s chaos report
  • "Stop estimating" – David Anderson
  • Software Cost Estimation with Cocomo II, Addison-Wesly 2000

2 Comments

  • 1
    2009-03-04 - 09:59 | Permalink

    Wize insight, I second that!

  • 2
    2009-03-04 - 09:12 | Permalink

    Many times “deliver working software” is not enough. Estimation tries to answer questions such as, “will we meet the marketing window?”.

    The funny thing about that is that we tend to forget the question when we start estimating. Instead of focusing on the market window, we focus on what happens to be the set of known requirements.

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