Software Estimation Techniques and the Importance of Estimation in Projects!

Developing software is not an easy business no matter how easy it is to use one!

Even people who are accustomed to words like ‘coding’ and ‘testing’ often make the mistake of thinking that developing software is a culmination of those two words only.

However, those who are aware of SDLC or Software Development Life Cycle, knows that there are numerous models like Waterfall, Agile, Spiral, etc. for developing software. The common thing in all the models, apart from the act of coding and testing, is estimation.

Estimation, in its definition, refers to procedure of guessing or forecasting certain parameters. For example, if we try to guess whether it will rain tomorrow or not, we are doing some sort of estimation. For this particular case, it is mostly known as forecasting.

In SDLC, estimation is one of the first and most important stages. In this stage, managers and other stake holders try to estimate the cost and time needed for the entire process of developing and delivering the software. This procedure needs to be done impeccably. Any mistake in estimation would cause rework later which would incur both time and cost, and to some extent, reputation too!

For this, there are some Software estimation techniques that companies rely upon for a better result. List of some of the techniques is below. One should remember that even though assumption is a large part of estimation, not everything can be left to that. Other factors such as past experiences and records, knowledge and calculated risks are significant in mitigating the ills of assumptions.

  1. Delphi Method: This is the most widely known and used method. This method is a fine blend of qualitative and quantitative approach. Experts here work on the assignments. By experts, we mean knowledgeable persons in their area. The team, divided into sub-teams, work on tasks assigned. Thus, all the smaller teams get their respective task and do a survey from these experts. Thus, several experts work in tandem for several tasks.

    This increases chances of getting it right. All the results of the surveys are then collated and the ultimate projection is done. Needless to say, constant feedback on the surveys is a major part of this method. This Delphi method is largely proven to be a good choice.

  2. WBS or Work Breakdown Structure: In this approach, like its name suggests, the experts break the project into modules and sub-modules. This helps in tackling the complexity of the project. Then, the estimation of individual modules and sub-modules are done. In this approach, a deeper look into the project is necessary and thus a technically competent person needs to be involved to break the project down into modules.
  3. 3 Point: The three-point approach finds three results of estimation. One is the optimistic or best-case scenario; another is for the likelier one and the last fort the worst case scenario. The combination of 3 is worked to reach to the final conclusion.

One can use all or any of these methods for estimation of software development project.

Hopefully, now you know how important Estimation is! For gaining further details, you can always enroll for a software project estimation workshop and enhance your knowledge on the same.

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