Monday, April 28, 2014

Who knew? Estimates are not free!

The title of this blog says it all: Who knew? Estimates are not free!

In a recent email blast from Mike Cohn, who -- by the way, wrote the book: "Agile Estimating and Planning" -- we learn this wisdom -- hopefully, not hearing it for the first time:
I have no problem with a boss who asks a team to provide an estimate for how long a huge set of product backlog items will take to deliver.

There could be hundreds of items – perhaps even thousands, and I have no issue with the boss asking for an estimate.

I will be happy to provide a boss with that information.

So long as the boss understands that information has a cost.
And, so there you have it: No free lunch!
And, hear this: real agilists do estimates! (Mike is as real as they come)

From whence they come
Estimates are not something one has on the tip of their tongue, like that oft-practiced elevator speech about the benefit of this project.

No, common sense -- which we all have some measure of -- tells us good estimates take a bit of time, and that time should be set aside in the project schedule and budget. And estimating, and its close cousin forecasting -- which some define as assembling and integrating estimates -- should not be expected to be "other duties as assigned", only to be handled in the "white space" of the project day.

Nope, estimating and forecasting are legitimate tasks, and there's none better to do them than some of the project's finest -- our corps of SMEs.

And more
And, as if all this is not enough to spin heads, real agilists also use Monte Carlo simulation to develop and validate estimates!

Gasp! Statistics and agile... can this be real?

But yes, it's real! Tony Magennis tells us so in his small book: "Forecasting and Simulating Development Projects" (in spite of the fact he tries to get your attention with #NoEstimates Forecasting)

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