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Predicting the Unpredictable

Predicting the Unpredictable

Pragmatic Approaches to Estimating Project Schedule or Cost


Do you have trouble estimating your project's cost or schedule? Are you curious about how to explain to your management that estimates are guesses? Would you like to improve your estimates? Learn how to generate a gross estimate for your project in a way management can hear. Learn why we estimate, how to explain where you project is, when to iterate on your estimate, and how to troubleshoot your estimation problems.
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About the Book

If you have trouble estimating cost or schedule for your projects, you are not alone. The question is this: who wants the estimate and why?

You might be able to use different words for your estimate. You might be able to report your estimate in a way that helps your managers realize the uncertainty of the estimate. Maybe you just need the team who’s doing the work to estimate.

Learn practical and pragmatic ways to estimate schedule or cost for your projects. Learn why most estimates are wrong, and how you can create some sanity about your estimates. Learn ways to present your estimates so people will accept them. And, when your estimate is wrong, learn what you can do.

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Table of Contents

    • Acknowledgements
    • 1. Introduction
      • 1.1 Estimates Are Guesses or Predictions
      • 1.2 Estimates Change
      • 1.3 Estimates Expire
    • 2. What Estimates Are
      • 2.1 Provide an Accurate but Not Precise Estimate
    • 3. Why Do We Estimate Anyway?
      • 3.1 Why Do You Estimate?
      • 3.2 Ask This Question Before You Estimate
    • 4. Software is Learning, Not Construction
      • 4.1 Inch-Pebbles or Small Stories Show Progress
      • 4.2 Learn With Spikes
    • 5. Think About Estimation
      • 5.1 Estimating the Unknown: Dates or Budgets
      • 5.2 Determine Your Degrees of Freedom
      • 5.3 Insist on a Ranked Backlog
      • 5.4 The Team Doing the Work Provides the Estimate
    • 6. How to Estimate
      • 6.1 Your First Best Bet: Make Your Stories and Chunks Small
      • 6.2 Your Second Best Bet: SWAG and Refine
      • 6.3 Collect Data
      • 6.4 When You Have a Decreed Date
      • 6.5 Wrap Up
      • 6.6 Estimating a Program
      • 6.7 Beware of These Program Estimation Traps
    • 7. Rolling Wave Planning
      • 7.1 Learn as the Project Proceeds
    • 8. There Is No Correct Estimation Model
      • 8.1 We Invent; We Don’t Repeat
    • 9. But I Need to Know When the Project Will Be Done
      • 9.1 What You Can Say to Managers Who Think They Need to Know
    • 10. NoEstimate or Do Your Estimates Provide Value?
    • 11. Use All Four Parts of Project Estimation
      • 11.1 Part 1: Create an Initial Estimate
      • 11.2 Part 2: Track Estimation Quality Factor to Understand the Project Estimate
      • 11.3 Part 3: Use EQF to Manage Project Concerns
      • 11.4 Part 4: Update Your Estimate as You Know More
    • 12. Show Your Status and Update Your Estimate
      • 12.1 Probabilistic Scheduling
    • 13. Refocusing: 90% Done Is Not Almost Done
    • 14. Future Fixes
      • 14.1 Plan Ahead
      • 14.2 Hindsight is 20-20
      • 14.3 Track Your Estimates
      • 14.4 Measure Bad Fixes
      • 14.5 Manage Your Buffers
      • 14.6 Incorporate Agility
  • Troubleshooting Your Estimation Problems
    • 15. Avoid Multitasking
    • 16. Avoid Student Syndrome
    • 17. Estimation Units Predict Schedule Slippage
    • 18. Edit Those Epics
    • 19. What You Can Do For Estimation
    • 20. Estimation Depends On…
    • 21. Estimating Testing Time
    • 22. Need to Learn More About the Work You’re Doing? Spike It!
      • 22.1 How Does a Spike Work?
      • 22.2 Spikes Are About Learning
      • 22.3 What Happens to the Code at the End of the Spike?
      • 22.4 “Use the Code As Is…”
      • 22.5 How Many People Were Involved in the Learning?
    • 23. Use Targets as Estimates
      • 23.1 How to Use Targets
      • 23.2 When the Target Is a Trap
    • 24. How to Avoid Three Big Estimation Traps
    • 25. Understanding Multitasking and the Cost of Delay on Estimation
    • 26. What You Know About Estimation Now
      • 26.1 Transition to an Agile Approach or an Incremental Approach for Your Projects
      • 26.2 Make Your Features Small
      • 26.3 Iterate on your Estimate
      • 26.4 Don’t Multitask
      • 26.5 Don’t Let Defects Dictate Your Estimate
      • 26.6 Final Thoughts
    • Glossary
    • References
    • More from Johanna

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About the Author

About the Publisher

This book is published on Leanpub by Practical Ink


Johanna Rothman's books on leanpub. Practical, frank, and often humorous tips you can put to work right now.

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