11 december 2008

Devoxx 2008 - day 3: software estimation

The first session after the key notes I attended was about estimating workload. This was a very interesting session, with a very amuzing speaker. He was able to grab the attention of the entire room, both in the way he talked (with a funny Italian accent) and what he told. Even though he's a Scrum master and agile advocate, his talk touched not only agile (iterative approach) pinciples but also made the analogy with the classic waterfall approach. Now we all know the disadvantages of the classic waterfall approach, but still there are a lot of companies applying this principle (because they don't know else?).

Things to remember:

  • your estimations will be wrong
  • don't negotiate estimations, negotiate scope and milestones
  • estimate not just once, but continuously
  • the difference between accuracy and precision
  • estimations should be done by the person doing the implementation
  • use a number of techniques to estimate the workload, especially start by looking at numbers of past projects

He used a funny but accurate analogy to illustrate his point on not negotiating estimations: "Suppose you have to estimate my size, and I know I'm not that tall. You say '1.70m'. I say: 'make it make it more'. You go: "1.80m?" I say: 'make it 2m'. That is so silly. You don't negotiate about the estimation of my size, you don't negotiate about estimations at all".

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