Software Estimation in Depth

Steve McConnellConstrux CEO

Learn many useful rules of thumb and procedures for creating software estimates (“the art of estimation”) and briefly introduces mathematical approaches to creating software project estimates (“the science of estimation”).

9 Hours of Content
26 Lectures
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Course Details

  • Course Overview

    This course provides many useful rules of thumb and procedures for creating software estimates (“the art of estimation”) and briefly introduces mathematical approaches to creating software project estimates (“the science of estimation”). This course features extensive lab work to give you hands-on experience creating many different kinds of software estimates–for large, medium, and small projects as well as calibrating estimates to be accurate for your specific development environment. You will learn techniques for making sure estimation is treated as an analytical rather than a political process, and you will explore how to negotiate effectively with other project stakeholders (such as marketing, management and your clients) so that everyone wins. This seminar is based on the best-selling book, Software Estimation: Demystifying the Black Art, by Steve McConnell.

    Certification Information

    9 PDU’s
    PMI PDU Reporting Instructions


    • Common Sources of Estimation Error
    • Key Concept: The Cone of Uncertainty
    • Good and Bad Estimation Processes
    • Estimation Error
    • Strengths and Weaknesses of Popular Estimation Methods
    • Better Estimation Methods
    • The Critical Role of Historical Data
    • Using Judgment-Based Estimation Effectively
    • Issues in Scope Estimation
    • Issues in Effort Estimation
    • Issues in Schedule Estimation
    • Estimation on Agile Projects
    • Estimation in the Larger Organizational Context

  • Course Details

    Estimation Background

    • Estimation “art” vs. estimation “science”
    • Estimates, targets, and commitments
    • Kinds of estimates: macro vs. micro, top-down vs. bottom up, algorithmic vs. heuristic
    • State of the art and limits on estimation accuracy
    • Surprise: Estimation’s real
      role on software projects

    Estimation Process

    • Basic steps in creating a software estimate
    • Estimating agile
      projects vs. estimating plan-driven projects
    • Best estimation
      approaches by project phase
    • Estimate refinement
    • Standardized
      estimating procedures for agile and plan-driven projects

    Estimation Error

    • The good, the bad, and the ugly: evaluating
    • Errors in the estimation process
    • Sources of
      project uncertainty
    • Software’s Cone of Uncertainty

    Popular Estimation Methods

    • Off-the-cuff estimation
    • Using expert judgment successfully
    • Wide-band Delphi

    Better Estimation Methods

    • Estimation by analogy
    • Decomposition
    • Proxy-based estimation
    • Story points
    • The PERT formula
    • Putnam’s Method

    Special Issues in Scope Estimation

    • Counting, Computing, and Judgment
    • Fuzzy Logic
    • T-Shirt Sizing
    • Software’s diseconomy of

    Special Issues in Effort Estimation

    • Productivity variations across types of software
    • Calibration
    • Industry data
    • Historical company data
    • Project data
    • Estimating individuals’ work

    Special Issues in Schedule Estimation

    • The schedule equation
    • Effect
      of schedule compression and expansion
    • The “impossible zone”

    Automated Estimation Support

    • Product demos
    • Tool
    • Interplay of the art and science of software

    Human Roles in Estimation

    • Estimate
      presentation techniques
    • How to explain and defend an estimate
    • Estimation and negotiation

  • steve-mcconnell-instructor

    Steve McConnell

    Construx CEO

    Steve McConnell is CEO and Chief Software Engineer at Construx Software. His award-winning book Code Complete is one of the best selling computer books of all time, remaining atop best seller lists since its publication 20 years ago. Readers of Software Development magazine named him one of the three most influential people in the software industry along with Bill Gates and Linus Torvalds.

    Steve is also the author of Software Estimation: Demystifying the Black Art (2006), Rapid Development (1996), Software Project Survival Guide (1998), and Professional Software Development (2004), as well as numerous technical articles. His books have twice won Software Development magazine’s Jolt Excellence award for outstanding software development book of the year. Steve serves as Editor-in-Chief Emeritus of IEEE Software magazine, on the Panel of Experts of the SWEBOK project, and is past Chair of the IEEE Computer Society’s Professional Practices Committee.Steve received a bachelor’s degree from Whitman College in Walla Walla, Washington, graduating Magna Cum Laude, Phi Beta Kappa, and has a master’s degree in software engineering from Seattle University.

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