Entries tagged estimation

Why Outsourcing Yields Successful Projects

Twenty-four years at this game gives you some perspective, as you gaze through your graduated lenses. I started out in a team-based, custom-software-development consulting company. And for the past eight years, I’ve been happily working at another — Jonah Group. In between, I worked for product companies, financial institutions, and …

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“Social” Status Reporting

Whenever we procure services from a vendor (e.g. remodeling a kitchen), we are faced with overcoming the fear of potentially spending a lot of money without getting a successful result at the end. Once the project begins, our visibility into project progress is then limited to what we learn from the vendor’s status reports, and what we see as visible progress. Unfortunately, we never really know if the vendor is painting a rosier picture than reality might reflect. Also, it’s often the case that visible progress is not easy to come by, especially in software projects where the work product is so abstract.

So our visibility goes down, our stress levels increase, and we begin to spend our time standing on the vendor’s head nervously polling “how are we doing?” every day or two. Since Jonah Group is a services organization, we understand this dynamic all too well, and use two major strategies to prevent this from happening.

The first is Iterative Development and Delivery of vertically integrated pieces of the system (stories or use cases). I won’t go into this very deeply, because it is a well-developed, well-understood technique at the centre of modern Agile software development methods. Essentially this reduces risk by delivering working pieces of functionality early and often so that visibility into progress is re-established at discrete points in time (typically the end of each code Sprint).

The second is the process of continuously collecting answers to the question “How much time do you have remaining on this task?” from each of the team members. But how?

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The Trouble With Software Estimation

In an effort to become more consistent with the way our company delivers estimates to clients and to each other, we decided to try an experiment aimed at discovering estimation variability and biases. The results were pretty surprising! The experiment was divided into two parts: Quantitative: team members were asked ...

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