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coding for the proletariat since 1977

Project Estimating

One of the hardest aspects of any project is developing an
accurate estimate of effort and resources. There are really only three
variables that directly impact project delivery dates: feature scope, resource
availability, and time.

In my experience the scope is almost always set outside the sight of, or
control of, the design and development team. The client wants certain features
and is largely unwilling to barter on the set required for a successful
product. Granted the majority of my experience has been for government or
pseudo-government clients (e.g. Utility companies). While these clients aren’t
bottom-line driven, scope, and often time, are fixed variables in the equation
of project delivery.

At my current client the feature set required is immense (approximately 54 Use
Cases of effort) and the timeframe is rigidly set – 9 months. Using the
historical metrics available to us we have come up with an estimate of effort,
in person-months, of 255. Two-hundred and fifty-five person months of effort.
With team size the only variable we can adjust (i.e., time) we need 28 people
on the team to reach our goal.

 Just managing 28 people will require additional resources. Our
best guess is that project management and technical management each represent
about 10% of any successful project team. So our 28 person design team will
need three project  managers and three technical managers.

 If the client had unlimited funds, and if we could acquire a
total of 28 skilled resources, and if we could gather 5 or 6 dedicated
managers, and if we started today we could just make our date.

 In reality we have 8 people, 5 of whom need considerable mentoring
and who are not fully dedicated to the project. In short we are 20-24 people
short of meeting our goal.

Even if our team works double time for the next nine months, the equivelent of 16 people, we would still fall far short of delivery on time.

It’s going to be a long year.

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Filed under: Project Management

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