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Once in a while I have read here and there the size of a project expressed in a matter of days-person or person-day.

I may understand what this means, but I don't know on what do people base themselves to calculate it.

  1. What are the variables considered into this calculation?
  2. How these variables are used in the calculation formula?
  3. Otherwise, how to estimate it grossly, when something is missing from the formula's variables?
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3  
That's called guesstimation –  user2567 Feb 18 '11 at 15:35
    
The only reliable way of doing this is to apply Hofstadter's law. –  mouviciel Jan 30 '12 at 8:26
    
What do you mean by a person-day, specifically? The average amount of work one person can accomplish in a real workday, or the amount of work one person would accomplish in an undistracted workday? For anything other than short high-priority projects, there will be a difference. –  David Thornley Jan 30 '12 at 17:56

3 Answers 3

up vote 6 down vote accepted

Standard Agile way:

  1. Divide project into user stories;
  2. Divide user stories into tasks (and optionally subtasks);
  3. Have ppl who are actually going to work on the task estimate how much time they need;
  4. Add 30% slack;
  5. Add everything up.
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Some variables to consider:

  • admin work: How much administrative work do people on the project spend each day (or week)?
  • meeting time: Do meetings count towards the same total or do you want it in a separate total?
  • how much will the project change? Unless the initial requirements are perfect and carved in stone, expect there to be time spent changing things. Just how solid the requirements are at the begining can affect an estimate.
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A Man-day Simply means 8 hours of work for 1 person.

1) Estimate how long it will take to perform each task

2) Add them up

3) divide by 8

= Man-days

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4  
Never ever divide by 8. You should allow only 6 hours of productive time perday in your estimate. You have to account for leave, unavoidable delay, administrative work, required meetings called by HR, etc. –  HLGEM Feb 18 '11 at 18:18
1  
No. 6 hours is not a Man-day. Calculating actual calendar time is diffrent. –  Morons Feb 18 '11 at 18:20

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