More on Estimating – Story Points

By: Jon M Quigley

Silver  Bullet? NOT!

There is no perfect solution to estimating.  We can try to read the tea leaves, consult the oracle or use of a divining rod.  These are still estimates and have limitations.   Story points use proportional mechanisms for estimating, so there must be some foundation from which to work.  Since story points are proportional and not derived in terms of actual hours, we are never deluding ourselves that the estimates are anything more than approximations or wishful thinking or even hope.  Establishing and articulating duration in terms of hours and days can lead people, especially those who see the schedule, to falsely conclude that the duration is not an estimate but something more tangible – like facts or certainties.  Story points are unit-less, there are no minutes or hours associated.

Besides the lack of definitive duration, what is the benefit of using story points to estimate?  What is  the downside?  How can you determine … Continue reading

History, Estimates and PERT

By Jon M Quigley

Schedule Failures Due to Poor Estimates

Of the numerous project failure I have experienced or witness, time and schedule is one of the more frequent occurring.  Sometimes we may see a schedule that is borne out of an executive’s fancy and not reality (sometimes it is marketing).  Sometimes we are squeezed to get a project out as pressure for other reasons.  Time constraints are not bad, it is a way to ensure we are being good stewards of the company’s resources.  This pressure can be good as it can be a catalyst for creativity and generating solutions. That is the subject for later posts.

Duration Estimation and Historical Information

When planning the project schedule it is often practical to look at our historical record for estimating.  Our historical record, if generated over sufficient time, provides us with a glimpse of the capabilities of our Project Management Organization as well as various line functions.  … Continue reading

Don’t Fear the Estimates

I comes as not surprise that I follow other bloggers. One of my favorites is a word press blog of Tisquirrel.  She has recently posted “It seems that I hate estimations. Really?” that I thought very telling.

The trouble with Estimates

The trials she describes happen very frequently. The truth is, estimates are just that – or best (hopefully) informed assessment of what is required to achieve the stated objective.  To make the assessment from the informed perspective, will require some time for discovery.  We want to know what are we trying to do? What is the best approach? What technical and schedule risks do we have in achieving the objective?  This requires some adequate time to arrive at reasonable assessment.

Who Estimates Can Minimize Risk?

Presumably, the technical personnel that will be required to deliver, are closer than the sales or executive staff.  The people doing the work typically are in a better position to estimate, as … Continue reading

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