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Software Estimation: Demystifying the Black Art (Developer Best Practices) Paperback – March 1, 2006
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From the Publisher
Unlike other books that focus exclusively on the science of estimationincluding rigid modeling techniques and continuous feedback loops that are not cost effective to most organizationsthis 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.
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Top Customer Reviews
The subject matter here is much more focused than in most of his other work - dealing with a specific aspect of project management, rather than management of projects and the software development process as a whole; but, as with his other works, Mr. McConnell's Software Estimation is clearly written, well researched, and takes a very practical "hands-on" approach to the topic at hand. You will find it readable and packed with useful information. His conclusions and recommendations are well supported with references to the source material from which he derives them, and he does a good job of giving us a well balanced view of the relative merits, cautions and how best to utilize each of his recommendations.
The book is a fairly easy and straightforward read: my first pass through it took just a few hours, and I experienced one or more of those "aha!" moments of revelation with almost every chapter.
In Part I of the book, he presents overview of what Software Estimation is - and isn't; its value; what factors influence estimates; and also challenges the preconceptions all of us have with regards to software estimation. He often delves into some statistical examples to illustrate or prove his point, but these are easy to follow, and should not strain your brain too severely!
In Part II, Mr. McConnell describes a reasonably large number of software estimation techniques - describing how they work; the value, merits and challenges of each; and how to chose when (and why) to employ each one.
Part III was of the most value to me - focusing on "Specific Estimation Challenges" in the areas of estimating project size, effort, schedule, activity breakdowns, cost estimates, and metrics related to defects.
The final two chapters - 22 and 23 - of this book will be of immense value to you; as they focus on how to present estimates to others in ways that will be of most value in your attempt to provide a clear and balanced view of your project's costs and benefits to the organization. They also provide valuable tips on how to prepare and present yourself when facing the challenges that most of us (who spend more time with computers than people) encounter when trying to communicate with executives and nontechnical individuals.
In my opinion, this book will serve not only as an excellent introduction and guide to the discipline of Software Estimation, but is also an excellent reference work that you should keep close at hand: you will be digging into it regularly whenever you are managing a software development project!
In summary, this volume is yet another winner from Steve McConnell, and I recommend it highly for anyone in a leadership or senior role in software development. Five Stars!
The book is a reference and a textbook. The author identifies sections to skip to rather than reading straight through if you have an issue to address. As other reviews address content at length, I will not go into it.
The book discusses (thus far) refining estimates as a project continues and more detail is known, and it assumes this will happen. This is true for a PM managing his effort to stay within budget, but upfront estimates for fixed price contracts permit no such refining for the estimator. There is, however, information to help those of us who must estimate at the budget/proposal/concept stages and need to get it right.
The Kindle version has some issues if you have a black and white Kindle. For one thing, the hardcopy relies on color charts and refers to the blue areas to make a point. But in B&W, there is no differentiation in the shades. This could have been easily fixed using texture or bolding the data element titles. In addition, the chart bottoms don't show unless you significantly reduce text size, affecting readability, and there is still some difficulty seeing the whole chart in some cases. I have experienced this in other Kindle books with charts. That is not enough to dissuade from purchase, as the balance of information is well worth the price. The content deserves 5 stars, but got 4 to address the Kindle issues.