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Re: [XP] Estimating Without Jargon

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  • Bill Walton
    Hi Kevin, Great story. Feels real. I ve posted what I think is the question I have on the XC list, having promised not to waste more of this list s time with
    Message 1 of 14 , Nov 1, 2002
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      Hi Kevin,

      Great story. Feels real. I've posted what I think is the question I have
      on the XC list, having promised not to waste more of this list's time with
      this business-side stuff. Love to talk more about it there. Please feel
      free to cross post this. I think it makes an excellent example to work
      from.

      Best regards,
      Bill

      ----- Original Message -----
      From: "Kevin Lawrence" <kevin@...>
      To: <extremeprogramming@yahoogroups.com>
      Sent: Friday, November 01, 2002 12:21 PM
      Subject: [XP] Estimating Without Jargon


      > (hypothetically)
      >
      > I work for a large Wall Street bank. I am the project manager of a
      software
      > team in the Global Derivatives Credit Management department. My boss (a
      > technical person) reports to the head of Global Derivatives (a business
      > person). They (my boss and the big boss) call me into the office and tell
      me
      > that they want a system to provide real time credit information to 500
      > hundred traders in 17 offices worldwide. They also want to provide daily
      > reports to the credit managers and notify them in real time if any trader
      > exceeds a credit limit. They want to know how long it will take and how
      much
      > it will cost.
      >
      > I tell them (based on a similar project that we just finished) that it
      will
      > take about a year (give or take a year) and will cost about $3m (give or
      > take $3m).
      >
      > "Great !" they say. "That's well within our budget. How long will it take
      to
      > get a better estimate ?"
      >
      > I ask if I can get access to any of the users. They tell me that Maria,
      one
      > of the business analysts has been assigned to the project. I say well
      that's
      > great but we really need access to real users. The Big Boss says I can get
      > as much time as I need from the assistant credit manager for Latin America
      > and I can have free access to the trading floor. Derivatives trading is a
      > fairly leisurely business (relative to other kinds of trading), so I
      should
      > be able to corner some of the senior traders for some quality time.
      >
      > I tell them I can get a rough estimate in about two weeks and I can get
      > fairly accurate estimates two weeks later.
      >
      > "Go for it." They tell me.
      >
      > For the next two weeks I go down to trading floor with Maria and 3 of my
      > programmers and we talk to the people that would be using the system.
      > Everytime time someone describes something that the system should do, I
      > write it on an index card. After a week we have a stack of 93 cards that
      say
      > things like
      >
      > - Calculate the settlement risk for 30 year interest-rate swaps.
      >
      > - Listen in on ReuterNet conversations with interbank customers.
      > - Beep if a proposed deal exceeds the credit limit.
      > - Send a daily report of deals to the credit manager of each region.
      > - Highlight trades that exceed $150m
      > - Send a summary to the mainframe
      >
      > At the end of the first week, I sit down with Maria and my programmers and
      > we start estimating. We get through most of them in a couple of days. Some
      > are too big and fuzzy to so we go back down to the trading floor and get
      > some more information. We manage to split them up into bite-size pieces
      and
      > write them on new cards.
      >
      > We are not sure what to do about that ReuterNet thingie so I call the guy
      > who installed that system. He says its just TCP with a really simple
      > protocol. He sends me the manual and a test version. One of my programmers
      > plays with it for a few hours and announces it's pretty straightforward.
      We
      > go back to the traders and ask exactly what it is they want and write a
      few
      > more cards.
      >
      > When we get through all the cards we call a meeting with the senior trader
      > and the credit manager and we ask them to order the cards by how important
      > they are. After a little horse trading they manage to agree on the
      priority.
      > By the time they get to the low priority cards, they tear a few up ("what
      > were we thinking?") and add a few more too.
      >
      > After two weeks I am able to go back to my boss (and his boss) and tell
      them
      > that, with our current resources, we can be done in three and a half
      years.
      > He almost chokes on his coffee.
      >
      > "We need something by July ! What are they asking for ?"
      >
      > I show him a printout of our release plan and say "We might be able to get
      > the first 50 stories done by July. We'll know for sure in two weeks."
      >
      > "Excellent !", they exclaim in chorus. "When can we start coding ?"
      >
      > "Monday", I reply.
      >
      > The next day, my boss calls me and says that he was talking to his buddy
      in
      > Commodities. His buddy says that there is this manager in his department
      who
      > says that he thinks that two weeks is a long time to build a plan for a
      > project like this and that we are reckless to start such an important
      > project without more accurate estimates. I confess to my boss that I don't
      > know of a faster way to get better estimates.
      >
      > He calls a meeting - he got hauled over the coals because his last project
      > was late by a year and was cancelled the week it went live because it
      didn't
      > do what the users wanted. He wants to make sure this time.
      >
      > The meeting comes around and I ask,
      >
      > "Bill, how do you get more accurate estimates in less than two weeks ?"
      >
      >
      >
      >
      > Kevin Lawrence
      > Diamond Sky Software
      > www.diamond-sky.com
      >
      >
      > To Post a message, send it to: extremeprogramming@...
      >
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      >
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      >
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      >
      >
      >
    • Kevin Lawrence
      ... In the interests of full disclosure ... It wasn t real. It was a composite. Everything about the project at the bank was real except - We didn t use XP, we
      Message 2 of 14 , Nov 1, 2002
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        > Hi Kevin,
        >
        > Great story. Feels real. I've posted what I think is the question I have
        > on the XC list, having promised not to waste more of this list's time with
        > this business-side stuff. Love to talk more about it there. Please feel
        > free to cross post this. I think it makes an excellent example to work
        > from.
        >
        > Best regards,
        > Bill
        >

        In the interests of full disclosure ...

        It wasn't real. It was a composite.

        Everything about the project at the bank was real except
        - We didn't use XP, we used waterfall
        - I was project lead on that one, not manager
        - The requirements gathering took several months
        - The design phase took a couple of months
        - There was no guy named Bill in commodities

        Everything about the requirements gathering and estimating was real except
        - it didn't happen at a bank
        - it happened at a Silicon Valley software company


        I am confident that if called upon to compose the two, I could - but that's
        not the point of the story.

        The point was to show how quickly XP can get accurate estimates and to
        enquire whether there was a better way.

        I am truly interested now -

        What is this better way ?
        Why do you consider that the XP way might be seen as taking too long ?


        Kevin

        Diamond Sky Software
        www.diamond-sky.com
      • Bill Walton
        Hi Kevin, I m guessing you d rather continue the discussion here than move it to the XC list. That s OK with me as long as no one else objects. Given that,
        Message 3 of 14 , Nov 1, 2002
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          Hi Kevin,

          I'm guessing you'd rather continue the discussion here than move it to the
          XC list. That's OK with me as long as no one else objects. Given that, I'm
          going to make a short reply to Andrey's question to give anyone who wants to
          do so a little time to object. Be right back.

          Bill
          ----- Original Message -----
          From: "Kevin Lawrence" <kevin@...>
          To: <extremeprogramming@yahoogroups.com>
          Sent: Friday, November 01, 2002 12:58 PM
          Subject: Re: [XP] Estimating Without Jargon


          >
          >
          > > Hi Kevin,
          > >
          > > Great story. Feels real. I've posted what I think is the question I
          have
          > > on the XC list, having promised not to waste more of this list's time
          with
          > > this business-side stuff. Love to talk more about it there. Please
          feel
          > > free to cross post this. I think it makes an excellent example to work
          > > from.
          > >
          > > Best regards,
          > > Bill
          > >
          >
          > In the interests of full disclosure ...
          >
          > It wasn't real. It was a composite.
          >
          > Everything about the project at the bank was real except
          > - We didn't use XP, we used waterfall
          > - I was project lead on that one, not manager
          > - The requirements gathering took several months
          > - The design phase took a couple of months
          > - There was no guy named Bill in commodities
          >
          > Everything about the requirements gathering and estimating was real except
          > - it didn't happen at a bank
          > - it happened at a Silicon Valley software company
          >
          >
          > I am confident that if called upon to compose the two, I could - but
          that's
          > not the point of the story.
          >
          > The point was to show how quickly XP can get accurate estimates and to
          > enquire whether there was a better way.
          >
          > I am truly interested now -
          >
          > What is this better way ?
          > Why do you consider that the XP way might be seen as taking too long ?
          >
          >
          > Kevin
          >
          > Diamond Sky Software
          > www.diamond-sky.com
          >
          >
          >
          >
          > To Post a message, send it to: extremeprogramming@...
          >
          > To Unsubscribe, send a blank message to:
          extremeprogramming-unsubscribe@...
          >
          > ad-free courtesy of objectmentor.com
          >
          > Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to http://docs.yahoo.com/info/terms/
          >
          >
          >
        • Kevin Lawrence
          Replying to myself. ... This is an aside to a remark that you made in another thread about a friend of a friend who can see how XP would work for product
          Message 4 of 14 , Nov 1, 2002
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            Replying to myself.

            > Everything about the project at the bank was real except

            > - it happened at a Silicon Valley software company

            This is an aside to a remark that you made in another thread about a friend
            of a friend who can see how XP would work for product development but it'll
            never catch on in IT. (sorry - I couldn't find the original message)

            I have spent about half my career in IT development working both as an
            employee of banks and at software consultancies writing software for big
            financial institutions and the other half at Silicon Valley product
            companies building enterprise software.

            In my opinion, XP seems much more naturally suited to the former than the
            latter. Sure we were very successful using XP to build products but I feel
            we had to make a few compromises and adjustments to make it work.

            I am starting to wonder, though, if everybody feels the same way. I can't
            count how many times I have heard people say ...

            "I can see how XP would work really well for [some other domain] but for my
            domain, we'd have to adapt it a little"

            Maybe that's the point. XP is flexible enough that you can and should make
            adjustments to fit your domain.

            I still think the ideal environment for XP is within a large Wall Street
            bank though ;-)

            Kevin

            Diamond Sky Software
            www.diamond-sky.com
          • Bill Walton
            Hi Kevin, I m not sure I understand your explanation below so, for the sake of clarity, let me ask a couple of questions before I respond. In one place you
            Message 5 of 14 , Nov 1, 2002
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              Hi Kevin,

              I'm not sure I understand your explanation below so, for the sake of
              clarity, let me ask a couple of questions before I respond. In one place
              you say "The requirements gathering took several months." Below that you
              say that "Everything about the requirements gathering and estimating was
              real except..." Then you say "The point was to show how quickly XP can get
              accurate estimates..." Could you please clarify?

              Thanks,
              Bill

              ----- Original Message -----
              From: "Kevin Lawrence" <kevin@...>
              To: <extremeprogramming@yahoogroups.com>
              Sent: Friday, November 01, 2002 12:58 PM
              Subject: Re: [XP] Estimating Without Jargon


              >
              >
              > > Hi Kevin,
              > >
              > > Great story. Feels real. I've posted what I think is the question I
              have
              > > on the XC list, having promised not to waste more of this list's time
              with
              > > this business-side stuff. Love to talk more about it there. Please
              feel
              > > free to cross post this. I think it makes an excellent example to work
              > > from.
              > >
              > > Best regards,
              > > Bill
              > >
              >
              > In the interests of full disclosure ...
              >
              > It wasn't real. It was a composite.
              >
              > Everything about the project at the bank was real except
              > - We didn't use XP, we used waterfall
              > - I was project lead on that one, not manager
              > - The requirements gathering took several months
              > - The design phase took a couple of months
              > - There was no guy named Bill in commodities
              >
              > Everything about the requirements gathering and estimating was real except
              > - it didn't happen at a bank
              > - it happened at a Silicon Valley software company
              >
              >
              > I am confident that if called upon to compose the two, I could - but
              that's
              > not the point of the story.
              >
              > The point was to show how quickly XP can get accurate estimates and to
              > enquire whether there was a better way.
              >
              > I am truly interested now -
              >
              > What is this better way ?
              > Why do you consider that the XP way might be seen as taking too long ?
              >
              >
              > Kevin
              >
              > Diamond Sky Software
              > www.diamond-sky.com
              >
              >
              >
              >
              > To Post a message, send it to: extremeprogramming@...
              >
              > To Unsubscribe, send a blank message to:
              extremeprogramming-unsubscribe@...
              >
              > ad-free courtesy of objectmentor.com
              >
              > Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to http://docs.yahoo.com/info/terms/
              >
              >
              >
            • Kevin Lawrence
              ... get ... Happy to. There was a successful project at a bank. That s real. There was a successful project at a Silicon Valley software company. That s real
              Message 6 of 14 , Nov 1, 2002
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                > Hi Kevin,
                >
                > I'm not sure I understand your explanation below so, for the sake of
                > clarity, let me ask a couple of questions before I respond. In one place
                > you say "The requirements gathering took several months." Below that you
                > say that "Everything about the requirements gathering and estimating was
                > real except..." Then you say "The point was to show how quickly XP can
                get
                > accurate estimates..." Could you please clarify?
                >

                Happy to.

                There was a successful project at a bank. That's real.
                There was a successful project at a Silicon Valley software company. That's
                real too.

                The first project used waterfall.
                The second project used XP.

                I made up a hypothetical composite story that I believe to be realistic. I
                did that to try to get to the essence of how XP estimates a project in a
                domain with which you are familiar. If it helps, forget that I ever said it
                was real.

                I hope you'll agree it is still realistic.

                I hope we are able to take this hypothetical situation and use it to
                identify how XP's estimating procedures fall short and to identify a more
                efficient alternative.

                Kevin

                Diamond Sky Software
                www.diamond-sky.com
              • Bill Walton
                Hi Kevin, Thanks for the clarification. I get confused ;-) ... I don t think XP s estimating procedures fall short and I don t think we can identify a more
                Message 7 of 14 , Nov 1, 2002
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                  Hi Kevin,

                  Thanks for the clarification. I get confused ;-)

                  > I hope we are able to take this hypothetical situation and use it to
                  > identify how XP's estimating procedures fall short and to identify a more
                  > efficient alternative.

                  I don't think XP's estimating procedures fall short and I don't think we can
                  identify a more efficient alternative. I think we get dragged into
                  justifications that miss the point and drag us down rat holes. I think the
                  real issue, as we're discussing on the other list, is the underlying
                  assumptions. I'm currently working on a hypothesis that say's XP's
                  assumptions are correct. How can we demonstrate that? I was thinking of
                  exploring your story in that light. It feels real. What do you think the
                  players' underlying assumptions are and how would you address those
                  assumptions rather than the words that come out as a result of them.

                  Best regards,
                  Bill
                • Kevin Lawrence
                  ... can ... the ... Give me some example words that might come out and I ll take a stab at guessing the underlying assumptions and addressing them. Kevin
                  Message 8 of 14 , Nov 1, 2002
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                    > I don't think XP's estimating procedures fall short and I don't think we
                    can
                    > identify a more efficient alternative. I think we get dragged into
                    > justifications that miss the point and drag us down rat holes. I think
                    the
                    > real issue, as we're discussing on the other list, is the underlying
                    > assumptions. I'm currently working on a hypothesis that say's XP's
                    > assumptions are correct. How can we demonstrate that? I was thinking of
                    > exploring your story in that light. It feels real.


                    > What do you think the
                    > players' underlying assumptions are and how would you address those
                    > assumptions rather than the words that come out as a result of them.
                    >

                    Give me some example words that might come out and I'll take a stab at
                    guessing the underlying assumptions and addressing them.

                    Kevin
                  • Andrey Khavryuchenko
                    Bill, BW == Bill Walton wrote: BW I m currently working on a hypothesis that say s XP s assumptions are BW correct. How can we demonstrate that? Just do
                    Message 9 of 14 , Nov 1, 2002
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                      Bill,

                      "BW" == Bill Walton wrote:

                      BW> I'm currently working on a hypothesis that say's XP's assumptions are
                      BW> correct. How can we demonstrate that?

                      Just do it.

                      Really, the _final_ measure to check if some assumptions are correct is to
                      apply them to the real world.

                      XP works in the real world. So it's underlying assumptions, whatever they
                      are, work.

                      --
                      Andrey V Khavryuchenko http://www.kds.com.ua/
                      Software Solutions
                    • Bill Walton
                      ... ??? It was *your* example Kevin. You wrote the words. I don t understand your request. Bill
                      Message 10 of 14 , Nov 1, 2002
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                        Kevin Lawrence wrote:

                        > Give me some example words that might come out and I'll take a stab at
                        > guessing the underlying assumptions and addressing them.

                        ???

                        It was *your* example Kevin. You wrote the words. I don't understand your
                        request.

                        Bill
                      • Kyle Cordes
                        From: Kevin Lawrence ... more ... You described spending a couple weeks talking to the users, coming up with a list of features and
                        Message 11 of 14 , Nov 1, 2002
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                          From: "Kevin Lawrence" <kevin@...>

                          > I hope we are able to take this hypothetical situation and use it to
                          > identify how XP's estimating procedures fall short and to identify a
                          more
                          > efficient alternative.


                          You described spending a couple weeks talking to the users, coming up
                          with a list of features and estimating them XP-style, and getting an
                          estimate out of that.

                          Where's the problem? Are you saying that 2 weeks of talking to users,
                          about a system that will take many months to develop, is too long of a
                          time to come up with an estimate? Are you looking for a way to get an
                          estimate of the time to build a system, without having to spend time
                          understanding what it is you're going to build? I don't think you will
                          find it, obviously.

                          Or have I misssed something entirely?

                          Kyle Cordes
                          www.kylecordes.com
                        • Edmund Schweppe
                          ... I disagree, since large Wall Street banks tend to be on Wall Street, Wall Street is in NYC, *I* don t want to work in NYC, and I *do* want to work in XP
                          Message 12 of 14 , Nov 1, 2002
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                            Kevin Lawrence wrote:

                            > I still think the ideal environment for XP is within a large Wall Street
                            > bank though ;-)

                            I disagree, since large Wall Street banks tend to be on Wall Street,
                            Wall Street is in NYC, *I* don't want to work in NYC, and I *do* want to
                            work in XP ...

                            <echo message=":-)" />

                            <!-- Danke, Ilja! -->

                            --
                            Edmund Schweppe -- schweppe@... -- http://schweppe.home.tiac.net
                            The opinions expressed herein are at best coincidentally related to
                            those of any past or future employer. The position of current employer
                            is open; contact me for details!
                          • Bill Walton
                            Hi Luke, ... Hell, Luke. I can t even remember the original question posed ;-) It s been quite a long day. If you ll remind me, I ll either say not yet or
                            Message 13 of 14 , Nov 1, 2002
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                              Hi Luke,

                              Luke Burton wrote:

                              > > What do you think the players' underlying
                              > > assumptions are and how would you address those assumptions rather
                              > > than the words that come out as a result of them.
                              >
                              > Can you answer the original question posed? Nobody has yet.

                              Hell, Luke. I can't even remember the original question posed ;-) It's
                              been quite a long day. If you'll remind me, I'll either say "not yet" or
                              I'll try.

                              Best regardes,
                              Bill
                            • Charlie Poole
                              Bill, ... Then maybe you could tell us how you ll know if the words someone writes can serve your purpose. Charlie Poole cpoole@pooleconsulting.com
                              Message 14 of 14 , Nov 2, 2002
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                                Bill,

                                > Kevin Lawrence wrote:
                                >
                                > > Give me some example words that might come out and I'll take a stab at
                                > > guessing the underlying assumptions and addressing them.
                                >
                                > ???
                                >
                                > It was *your* example Kevin. You wrote the words. I don't
                                > understand your
                                > request.

                                Then maybe you could tell us how you'll know if the words someone
                                writes can serve your purpose.

                                Charlie Poole
                                cpoole@...
                                www.pooleconsulting.com
                                www.charliepoole.org
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