The Estimate Is Nothing, The Estimating Is Everything

Dale Emery, DHE

In many software projects, estimation is consistently troublesome, contentious, and unreliable. A big part of the problem is that we fantasize that estimates tell us about the future; and so management wants "accurate" estimates that we can "commit" to. In fact, estimates tell you nothing about the future. Estimates are entirely about the present. Estimates express our expectations, based on what we believed when we made the estimate. Dale Emery invites you to explore a gold mine of information left untapped by most estimation processes–the extensive range of knowledge, assumptions, risks, and unknowns that influence our estimates and are often unexpressed and forgotten. Making this information explicit and visible can outweigh the value of the estimate itself. By making small adjustments to your current estimation process, you can identify and capture these factors and use them to guide team learning, improve estimates, and signal when plans and estimates are out-of-date and need updating.

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