Addressing Software Development Estimation

I recently blogged about punching developers in the brain when a software deliverable deadline is slipping. The title of the post is The Question Unasked. In this post, I would like to address software development estimation.

In the past, I have stated “Either all software developers are pathological liars or software development is inherently inestimable.”

I’ve also stated:

  • Software development is hard.
  • Deliver quality late, no one remembers. Deliver junk on time, no one forgets.
  • All generalizations are false (including this one).

I can hear you thinking, “What do all those sayings mean, Andy?” They all apply to software development.

 What’s the Solution?

“Bounded chaos.”

In his book titled Software Estimation, author Steve McConnell shared some dynamics of software estimation. He drilled into software development projects and listed many challenges, categorizing them into Critical, Fundamental, and Specific challenges to estimating software.

In The Lean Startup, author Eric Ries focuses on delivering a Minimally-Viable Product (or MVP), shipping the MVP, learning lessons from early adopters, incorporating those lessons, and then delivering an updated version of the MVP.

I recommend both books and I make $0.00 from my recommendation or from either link (in case that sort of thing bothers you).

In my humble opinion, informed by experience, both of these books present good thoughts on arriving at useful software development estimates.

I use – and encourage developers, team leads, team managers, project managers, and architects to use – the techniques found in these books to place boundaries around the chaos that is, in my experience and opinion, an inestimable process.


Andy Leonard

Christian, husband, dad, grandpa, Data Philosopher, Data Engineer, Azure Data Factory, SSIS guy, and farmer. I was cloud before cloud was cool. :{>

3 thoughts on “Addressing Software Development Estimation

  1. I had a project manager who thought that she was project manager extraordinaire. I worked on a project that she managed. If there had been no federal requirements for the application, there would have been no requirements.
    She also believed in the “Nine Pregnant Women Project Management Model”. If it takes a woman nine months to deliver a baby, then nine pregnant women can deliver a baby in one month.

    1. Hi Ralph,

      My experience with project managers has been they are either heroes or zeroes. I reckon they feel the same way about developers! 🙂

      Project managers like the one you describe are awesome.

      Thank you for reading my ramblings and for contributing, sir.


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