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96479I'm just _so_ Bad. Estimating.

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  • John Carter
    Sep 14, 2004
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      In an industry full of really lousy estimators, I'm a really lousy
      estimator even by the industry's terrifically low standards.

      So I have decided to do something about it.

      Next time I write up my CV, I am going to be able to write "I'm really
      very good at estimating project duration and cost".

      So I have been thinking about why I'm so bad at it....(not making excuses,
      I'm enumerating problems to attack)

      a) I don't know my interrupt bandwidth. I'm a helpful guy, people ask me
      stuff. When I say, "It will take me a day to do that" that's a joke. I
      never have had an uninterrupted day in my life. I need to get...
      i. A good estimate on how much time I spent in "interrupt mode".
      ii. I need a good estimate of the variability.

      b) I give "gut feel" estimates. Bad, bad, bad. The best phrase I have
      _ever_ invented to do with estimation is this...
      "I don't know how long it will take me. But I can tell you how long it
      will take me to give you a good estimate." I must use that _every_ time.

      c) I _always_ have a "todo" list 10 or more deep with differing time
      frames and priorities. It's too complex for me to merge that list into my
      estimation.

      d) The goal posts are shifting, priorities shift, I just plain get it
      wrong. Therefore estimates must shift, but they don't.

      e) If it were simple, it would have been done already. Therefore all
      programming tasks are inherently more complex than what we did previously.

      Proposed solutions (comments, suggestions, book references most welcome.)

      a) I have looked at PSP, and it seems too finickerty. Some lighter weight
      version of that is needed.

      b) Human level. Never ever give an estimate. Always use the magic "I can't
      give you an estimate now, but I can tell you when I can give you one")

      c) Techno solution. I need a living estimation project sheet / time sheet,
      that can...
      * Be light weight enough for me to keep really current.
      * Update estimates in real time.
      * Juggle the todo list and priorities.
      * Give feed back to calibrate myself.
      (Any recommendations anyone. (Linux based, text data input preferred
      over gui windows))

      d) I need to do a very high level design and maybe a spike before I start
      estimating.

      e).. Suggestions please.

      John Carter Phone : (64)(3) 358 6639
      Tait Electronics Fax : (64)(3) 359 4632
      PO Box 1645 Christchurch Email : john.carter@...
      New Zealand

      The universe is absolutely plastered with the dashed lines exactly one
      space long.
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