Part 2 – The How of Software Estimation

If you recall, last week I talked about the first step that anyone doing anything with software estimation needs to do – that is to establish the ‘what’ and the ‘why.’ And I said that these two aspects are your cornerstone, the start of your foundation. Now it’s time to move to step two and lay the rest of that foundation. Don’t worry, I’m not going to continue with home construction metaphor much longer, it’s just that for this instance it’s fitting.

So, now that we know what we want to estimate, and why we want to estimate it, it’s to start getting to the ‘how’. To do so, we’re going to take that simple question and break it down into three main areas.

The first of these three areas is the technical baseline, which as the name suggests, is where everything is measured from. To make your baseline perform best, and the rest of your estimation follows suit, it’s best to follow the kitchen sink approach. Working with software? Incorporate how each piece of the software interacts with each othermixer-19715_960_720 piece and how that software would integrate with the outside world. Toss in every binary build, every delivery time. When every step is due, and how much they’re supposed to cost.

Then, move to the second part of the ‘how’ – establish your ground rules. Special considerations, technology involved, everything have to be done in blue? Yeah, those go here.

Which brings us to the last part, assumptions. Go ahead and forget the cliché your mother used to repeat, you know that that so cleverly starts “Every time you assume, you…” Because now I want you to do the opposite. Kinda. Here’s where you’ll make a list of things you’ll need to complete the project, but that you don’t already have. So, you’re not making assumptions about performance (as your mother so warned)but rather assumptions about supplies (which I’m telling you is cool.)