Estimation is the process of finding an estimate, or approximation, which is a value that is usable for some purpose even if input data may be incomplete, uncertain, or unstable.

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368
votes
14answers
107k views

How to respond when you are asked for an estimate?

We, as programmers, are constantly being asked 'How long will it take'? And you know, the situation is almost always like this: The requirements are unclear. Nobody has done an in depth analysis of ...
113
votes
21answers
5k views

Is there a way to combat Sales perpetually overcommitting? [closed]

I seem to be repeatedly stuck in a situation where release dates are set not based on anything technical, but because someone in Sales has committed to a customer by then. Based on discussions with ...
104
votes
15answers
77k views

Why do we use story points instead of man days when estimating user stories?

In agile methodologies (e.g. SCRUM), the complexity/effort needed for user stories are measured in Story points. Story points are used to calculate how many user stories a team can take in an ...
103
votes
20answers
5k views

Project Manager that wants to lock in time estimate with a signed contract

At a previous employment, a project manager (PM) wasn't satisfied with the delivery time of the code on a project I was on. I was told by my project lead that that the PM was considering having me ...
69
votes
4answers
6k views

How to estimate the length of a programming task [closed]

What process do you use to estimate how long a (significant) programming task will take. Do you use one or more of the following: intuition/guessing reference to similar tasks whose estimated/actual ...
64
votes
17answers
4k views

Completion time on a company where the supervisors don't know programming [duplicate]

We are in a small company with around 10 developers. I am the team leader and responsible for the development process. Supervisors and salesmen are close to us since we are a small team, but have no ...
57
votes
36answers
5k views

What can I do to get better at estimating how long projects are going to take? [duplicate]

I don't want to make life hard for management. I really don't. They're nice enough guys, but every time I am assigned a new project or task and get asked "how long do you think it will take to do ...
55
votes
19answers
3k views

Dealing with awful estimates

A recent project I worked on was proven to be severely underestimated by the architect. The estimate was out by at least 500%. Unfortunately I was brought onto the project after the estimate had ...
55
votes
4answers
2k views

How to explain to a non-technical person why the task will take much longer than they think?

Almost every developer has to answer questions from business side like: Why is going to take 2 days to add this simple contact form? When a developer estimates this task, they may divide it into ...
52
votes
5answers
2k views

How can you estimate time for tasks which primarily consist of figuring out a problem?

While it is relatively possible for an experienced developer to estimate how long it will take to implement code when the pattern and problem the code is solving is well understood, how can you make a ...
34
votes
14answers
5k views

How to learn to make better estimates? [closed]

I suck at estimates. When someone asks me how long something will take, I don't even dare to make a guess since I will be completely off the mark. Usually I'm way too optimistic, and should probably ...
33
votes
7answers
4k views

How to explain that it's hard to estimate the time required for a bigger software project?

I'm a junior developer and I find it hard to estimate how much time it takes to finish a bigger software project. I know how to structure the architecture in general, but it's hard for me to know what ...
32
votes
14answers
1k views

Boss doesn't believe my time estimate… advice/backup? [duplicate]

I'm working at a startup software company -- 3 developers, less than 15 employees including the CEO. We deal exclusively with Windows Mobile, the .NET CF, and passing the information gathered from our ...
31
votes
12answers
5k views

How possible is it to estimate time for programming projects? [duplicate]

It seems like it is nearly impossible to get close because you could run into any number of issues and things not first anticipated. How close can we be expected to reasonably estimate? Our PM wants ...
30
votes
9answers
4k views

What should I do when waiting for a review?

Before asking my question, I must explain the situation. I'm working for a company as a junior software engineer. One of the seniors always stops me when I have finished my development and want to ...
30
votes
7answers
9k views

How do you decide how much your software will cost? [closed]

If you are a solo developer, or have a leading role in a software company, you might have to decide how much your software will cost one or another day... What is your experience with calculating how ...
29
votes
9answers
3k views

Why are deadlines always so short? [duplicate]

I'm a junior developer in a small company (in a team of 2 developers). Everytime we are asked to implement a new feature: the deadline is set so that we just have time to do the development: there ...
29
votes
5answers
8k views

Am I programming too slow? [closed]

I've only been a year in the industry and I've had some problems making estimates for specific tasks. Before you close this, yes, I've already read this: ...
29
votes
8answers
16k views

Scrum - how to carry over a partially complete User Story to the next Sprint without skewing the backlog

We're using Scrum and occasionally find that we can't quite finish a User Story in the sprint in which it was planned. In true Scrum style, we ship the software anyway and consider including the User ...
27
votes
13answers
2k views

Sales Manager: “Why is time-estimation so complex?” [duplicate]

A few days ago a sales manager asked me that question. But at this moment I didn't know a answer which he can understand. He isn't a programmer! At the moment I work on a product which is over 8 ...
27
votes
6answers
12k views

What's the best explanation of what Story Points are?

We're starting to use Story Points here for our Agile development but I find it hard to explain and also can't find any definitive answer to what they are. The best thing I can do is point to other ...
24
votes
10answers
2k views

How to add a new developer to the team

I run a small company composed of only 2 developers. We are building a very big application for one of our clients. Development on this project has gone on for 1.5 years. Now this client has secured ...
24
votes
11answers
2k views

What to do when time estimation goes wrong?

Let’s say you estimated time for a case to be 3 days. In day two you notice that the case is growing and new scenarios are popping up which were not counted when the time estimation where done. The ...
23
votes
13answers
3k views

Encouraging software engineers to track time

How can I encourage my coworkers to track the time they spend resolving issues and implementing features? We have software to do this, but they just don't enter the numbers. I want the team to get ...
20
votes
9answers
879 views

What do you think of “Planning Poker”? [closed]

Planning Poker Summary, in case you don't want to read the wiki article: Get a list of tasks you want to do for the upcoming iteration For each task: 2.1 Discuss with the group what it entails 2.2 ...
19
votes
3answers
728 views

Providing Estimates When working With Unfamiliar Technology?

I was presented with a new problem recently, to provide an estimate for a project in which I must use a framework (and potentially bits of another framework) that I am unfamiliar with. It's much ...
19
votes
3answers
530 views

Has research been done on the effectiveness of Planning Poker as an estimation technique?

Although it is a commonly held opinion that planning poker improves the accuracy of project estimations (a small sample of which demonstrated on this question), has any defined research been done on ...
17
votes
4answers
3k views

How to Determine # of Programmers needed for a project

How do you know how many programmers a particular project needs to be successful? The company I work for fulfills orders for client companies. We have written an in-house warehouse management ...
15
votes
3answers
15k views

Which string search algorithm is actually the fastest?

I have been stuck for some time on which is the fastest string search algorithm, heard many opinions, but in the end I'm not sure. I have heard some people saying that the fastest algorithm is ...
14
votes
2answers
3k views

Is it Ok to change estimates in the middle of an iteration?

We have started using Agile/Scrum in a team of 4 developers. We did our story estimations and ordered the stories Primed stories in the product backlog. We started with the point based estimation on ...
13
votes
8answers
991 views

Should you promise to deliver a feature that you aren't sure if its implementable?

In an article from HN, I came across the following advice: Always tell your customer/user "yes", even if you're not sure. 90% of the time, you'll find a way to do it. 10% of the time, you'll go ...
13
votes
6answers
1k views

Time estimating of a complex bug investigation (not a straight-forward one) [duplicate]

(It is not a duplicate: Bug investigation is much more non-deterministic than a defined development task where things to be done are specified. Investigation is about narrowing a huge search space, ...
12
votes
8answers
1k views

Dealing with estimates as a junior programmer

I have been working for a couple of months now in a company that estimates (for the general population, not juniors specifically) tasks and then we are given the task, solve it, it goes through two ...
12
votes
7answers
701 views

Is there really a relationship between number of people assigned to a project and the number of defects?

Here is a quote from a training manual at work regarding SLIM and software estimation: Notice also, there is a correlation between Effort and Defects. This means, the more people there are ...
12
votes
6answers
5k views

What is the acceptable error margin when estimating a project duration?

The company where I work is aiming to have a 10% maximum error margin.They expect analysts to not miss the estimate by more or less than 10%. I don't know what to think about it, since I got nothing ...
11
votes
3answers
625 views

How to handle estimates for programmers joining the team?

Iteration has already started, new programmer joins the team, task X has already been estimated to be 30 hours by a different developer. What is the best practice in this situation? new developer ...
11
votes
5answers
2k views

The Relative Cost Efficiency of (Acceptance) Test Driven Development

I would like to know what the overall impact of resource planning on a software project is, where the requirements and design of the project are driven by automated acceptance tests and unit tests, in ...
11
votes
6answers
809 views

How can I estimate projects when I need to include a learning curve for new technology?

Sometimes, there are research and development projects where nothing is known in advance about the technology, concepts, and client. However, the manager still needs time estimates. What can I do to ...
10
votes
10answers
2k views

How do you deal with time estimates? [duplicate]

If given too little time, quality suffers. If given too much time, developers will find a way to use all alloted time, no matter what. What would be a good way with dealing with estimates? Are they a ...
10
votes
10answers
905 views

User stories are too high level and conceptual, management expects developers to fill in the blanks

I am employed in a very brilliant company with a true intention of doing XP. Communication is good and management is open to constructive discussion but due to pressing time constraints, some certain ...
10
votes
5answers
1k views

Scrum re-estimation of stories

Every day, after the stand-up, my team and I update our estimates for each story. I have a feeling that there is something wrong with the way we do it, so I need your help. This is how we do: Story ...
10
votes
4answers
367 views

How do I account for changed or forgotten tasks in an estimate?

To handle task-level estimates and time reporting, I have been using (roughly) the technique that Steve McConnell describes in Chapter 10 of Software Estimation. Specifically, when the time comes for ...
10
votes
4answers
385 views

Handling “related” work within a single agile work item

I'm on a project team of 4 devs, myself included. We've been having a long discussion on how to handle extra work that comes up in the course of a single work item. This extra work is usually things ...
9
votes
9answers
4k views

How to answer “When will it be done?”

We all have it, problems that prove difficult to fix and working out a fix through obscure code and bizarre unexpected functionality. Slowly, logically working your way through trying to find ...
9
votes
3answers
3k views

How can I estimate the value of an open-source project?

I am trying to generate a metric for a company cost savings goal. To do this, I want to estimate the savings we realized by using an open source web application rather than building it from scratch or ...
9
votes
4answers
787 views

What could be a good team building activity to improve estimation skills? [closed]

I'm putting together a presentation to deliver to some of my teammates (all developers), and I'd like to include a short team building activity that focuses on improving estimation skills. Does anyone ...
9
votes
3answers
732 views

What is the best/ethical way to estimate code clean-up? [duplicate]

I have been working on a product line since my senior year of college for my current employer. Now several years out of college I am in a position where I am giving estimates for change requests on ...
9
votes
6answers
588 views

Who should participate in time estimation?

In an IT project: Who should participate in time estimation? Developer, team leader, scrum master and etc? Whose vote should be counted most?
9
votes
3answers
172 views

Considering consistent change, how short of a planning period is too short?

Change is not uncommon, change in requirements, change in specs change in workflow. I've accepted that there will be change, but I wonder: knowing that change is going to happen, how short of a ...
8
votes
5answers
289 views

Are bargaining and beat down attempts on Scrum estimations legitimate parts of the process?

I noticed in scrum meetings, that developers often give realistic estimations on stories. However, even rather simple stories need a lot efforts for configuration, setting up third party components, ...