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Software Estimation: Demystifying the Black Art (Developer Best Practices) Paperback – March 1, 2006


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Software Estimation: Demystifying the Black Art (Developer Best Practices) + Code Complete: A Practical Handbook of Software Construction, Second Edition + The Mythical Man-Month: Essays on Software Engineering, Anniversary Edition (2nd Edition)
Price for all three: $91.06

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Product Details

  • Series: Developer Best Practices
  • Paperback: 308 pages
  • Publisher: Microsoft Press; 1 edition (March 1, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0735605351
  • ISBN-13: 978-0735605350
  • Product Dimensions: 7.3 x 1 x 8.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (57 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #235,172 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

Unlike other books that focus exclusively on the science of estimation—including rigid modeling techniques and continuous feedback loops that are not cost effective to most organizations—this unique guide offers practical, tested, hands-on advice for estimating software development costs in the real world. It is written by the award-winning author of Code Complete.

Key Book Benefits:

Delivers practical insights about a critical subject too-often obscured by academic jargon Two-color graphics present mathematical information in an easy-to-understand format Provides specific practices that can be used immediately by any software development organization Features numerous, to-the-point tips about the estimation process, as well as individual steps to creating successful estimates

About the Author

Steve McConnell is recognized as one of the premier authors and voices in the development community. He is Chief Software Engineer of Construx Software and was the lead developer of Construx Estimate and of SPC Estimate Professional, winner of Software Development magazine's Productivity Award. He is the author of several books, including Code Complete and Rapid Development, both honored with Software Development magazine's Jolt Award.


More About the Author

I am founder and CEO at Construx Software (www.construx.com). I've written Code Complete, Software Estimation, Rapid Development, Software Project Survival Guide, and Professional Software Development. I live in Bellevue, WA.

Customer Reviews

It is well laid out and easy to read.
FirmwareMan
I said, 'I think by next week I can have an estimate to you about how long I think this project will take.
John Matlock
Everyone who has to provide estimates for software projects should have this book.
Michael Stringer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

59 of 61 people found the following review helpful By Erik Gfesser VINE VOICE on July 4, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
McConnell immediately differentiates between software estimation as a science and software estimation as an art within the first pages of the introduction to this work - he explains that while software estimation research is currently focused on improving estimation techniques so that project results are achieved within +/- 5% of esimated results, the techniques of which are best included in commerical software estimation tools that are used to pursue the science of estimation for very large projects, the typical software organization struggles to avoid estimates that are incorrect by 100% or more, and Software Estimation discusses the estimation techniques comprising, although not limited to, the art of estimation that will reduce estimation error to about 25% or less, which is what the vast majority of software projects need. This book is absolutely the best software estimation text I have read to date. As Joel Spolsky mentions on the back cover of the book, the vast majority of software project managers still think that estimates are based on multiples of a gut feel. This philosophy completely ignores the vast body of research and hands-on experience of the last few decades. McConnell explains with sufficient depth all of the ways to create "ball park" estimates, and if there is one chapter of this book that you read, Chapter 4 "Where Does Estimation Error Come From?" is the one that I recommend - the explanation of the Cone of Uncertainty is so well explained that anyone can understand it. Although I have never read Code Complete by the same author, I did purchase Rapid Development several years ago - and I must say that McConnell (or at least his editors) has vastly improved his writing skills.Read more ›
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44 of 49 people found the following review helpful By Tom Carpenter VINE VOICE on May 31, 2006
Format: Paperback
I must admit, I was very surprised to see an excellent source on software development time and cost estimation from Microsoft Press. However, when I saw that the author was Steve McConnell, the author of Code Complete (which I thought was a great book) I knew that this book would have something to offer.

His definition of the purpose of software estimation is important: "The primary purpose of software estimation is not to predict a project's outcome; it is to determine whether a project's targets are realistic enough to allow the project to be controlled to meet them."

From this premise, the author continues to prove that software estimation is about determining if you can control a project to bring it in reasonably close to the organization's targets. In addition to this, Mr. McConnell's arguments for overestimation being better than underestimation are rather good and have convinced me to continue using my risk time and budget items that I've been using and recommending to others.

In chapter 4, the author identifies four main sources of project estimation errors:

-Inaccurate information about the project being estimated
-Inaccurate information about the capabilities of the organization that will perform the project
-Too much chaos in the project to support accurate estimation (that is, trying to estimate a moving target)
-Inaccuracies arising from the estimation process itself

That last one presents the need for me to give a little more information. The author suggests that bias and subjectivity of the estimator cause major estimation errors in the estimation process. This is proven through exercise case studies of time estimation in training classes.
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47 of 54 people found the following review helpful By calvinnme HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on April 14, 2006
Format: Paperback
This is Steve McConnell's latest published effort on software engineering. The book is divided into three parts: estimation concepts, techniques, and challenges respectively. The first part of the book, on concepts, is just a broad overview designed to convince the software engineer of the value of estimation and how, done incorrectly, it can mess up what would have been a successful project. The second part, on techniques, is the meatiest part of the book. Here the author combines tried and true computational techniques with your own judgement and reminds you to get the expert opinion of other people too when estimating a project. Finally, the third and last part of the book, on challenges, talks about how you must think "out of the box" when you confront a software project whose size, effort, and schedule may be hard to quantify completely. Finally, McConnell points out the importance of politics and group dynamics in general in estimation. This is important, as many software engineers and project managers tend to be lone wolves that want to go off in a corner and solve problems by themselves. I highly recommend this book to all software engineers and particularly to software project managers. Amazon does not show the table of contents, so I do that here:

CRITICAL ESTIMATION CONCEPTS

1 What is an "estimate"? 3

2 How good an estimator are you? 15

3 Value of accurate estimates 21

4 Where does estimation error come from?
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