The Daily Mail up in arms about mince pies going on sale in September. Traffic getting heavier as school starts again. Complaints about the summer weather. Some things just don’t change. For IT project managers, one of those is the stress around calculating how long elements of a software development project will take.
The Daily Mail up in arms about mince pies going on sale in September. Traffic getting heavier as school starts again. Complaints about the summer weather. Some things just don’t change. For IT project managers, one of those is the stress around calculating how long elements of a software development project will take. Whether in-house or outsourcer-based, project managers are wont to expend a considerable amount of time and brain power developing ways to calculate the time of individual tasks. In fact when I meet with prospective clients, particularly those that haven’t worked with outsourcers before, they often cite concerns about accurate time estimation from any potential offshore partner as an important decision point. And I understand their worries: distance and different approaches can complicate things.
But as I wrote in a previous blog post: “…the whole estimation process is much more difficult the first time an offshore development provider works with a customer.” Just as with any project, once you get to know each other and have established a working pattern, calculating the required time becomes much easier. My advice to project managers starting a new project with a new team, be they offshore developers or based in the same office as you are, is to bear in mind these five points when starting your planning:
- There are many different methods for estimating task time. There are good points in each. It can be helpful to follow a method, but do remember there is no ‘right way’ and different methods will suit different people
- Using a software tools can be helpful, but they are far from perfect. They are best used as the ‘belt and braces’: a simple way to review and monitor your calculations.
- Get to know your developers and understand their approach. When you ask them to provide time estimations you will then have a much better understanding of their calculations. They will also be more comfortable coming to you to say their estimations need to be altered.
- Always write additional time into your planning when working with a new team.
- Patience is a virtue! The second time you work together, making your time estimations will be a breeze! Well, almost…..
I’ve said it before and I will say it again: The human factor is key to your success in speedy and accurate estimating. Count on the competence of your software developers – they are the ones doing the work after all and therefore they are the ones who can provide the best estimations.