Software Estimation: Demystifying the Black Art (Developer Best Practices) Paperback – March 1, 2006
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From the Publisher
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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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.
One of the many great things about "software Estimation" is the sheer number of methods he gives. From Lines of code, to function points, to similar projects, to industry estimates (broken down by sub category so that database is different from embedded devices), to t shirt sizing, to maintaining development history: he makes it clear that you have a lot of different options available to you. He takes great pains to emphasize that one size does not fit all. Additionally he gives rationales for when the estimate techniques work in a project's lifecycle.
With all the methods described, another point driven home is that software is something of an art and that you can reduce the amount of uncertainty but you can never fully remove it. None of the methods that improve estimation are silver bullets. I love that he draws the line in the sand here. Its very true and in fact he goes a step further, pointing out that on successful projects the "cone of uncertainty" converges as the project matures. The converse is also true. Wise words indeed.
The final chapter feels more like a tack on, however the message contained therein is something that needs to be stated again and again: marketing/management is not the enemy. It is important to remember that everyone has the same goals and that the battle really should be a collaboration. However good this chapter was, it still felt out of place.
There are a few niggling issues that I had. The biggest gripe is that he talks a lot about estimation software packages. In fact, he makes assumptions that the reader has knowledge of these packages. Working in start-ups, I've never even heard of these packages until this book. Its a small gripe, but it did detract. Another issue would be some of the examples on applying the various techniques towards the end of the book were far too glossy and far to dry. I think there was some good information there but you, as the reader, will need to make a few assumptions. Which, to me, is always a dangerous thing. Not as bad as fighting a land war in Asia, but still dangerous.
Overall though, as a software engineer/manager I found this book to be invaluable. The techniques are usable right away and really helped me convey the uncertainty I had in ways that I wasn't able to in the past. I think this should be required reading for anyone who works in the software industry.
Top international reviews
Both are great reading when I'm travelling and I tend to read the Kindle version as both books (in paper) are weighty tomes.
One thing that's a bit odd with this book is that there's no Table of Contents on the Kindle Version. Hence -1 Star.
In my kindle version, there's sections Cover,Software Estimation..,Welcome,Acknowledgements,Equations,Figures,I,II,III,A,B,C,Bibliography,Steve McConnell,Index,About the Author,Copyright,Location.
In my paper version, on page iii, there's contents at a glance, and on page v there's Table Of Contents.
I wonder if this was missed in the conversion?!
I found it really, really useful at estimating software development tasks and I use the formulas in the book all the time.
I thoroughly recommend it.
Define conceitos importantes, lista alguns motivos de uma estimativa dar errado, lista técnicas de estimativas tanto para projeto incremental ou iterativo e tem dicas de como explicar/transmitir/negociar as estimativas para os gestores ou pessoas responsávei na área de negócio.
Mostra também, com detalhes, o famoso cone da incerteza e ajuda a definir estratégias para cada fase do cone.
E muito mais.
Por favor, leiam!
El resto del libro, donde se introducen los métodos, está bien estructurado y sirve de "how-to" donde puedes leer todo por encima para entender el contexto o buscar directamente un método para documentarte a fondo.
Y que estas cosas no las enseñen en la carrera... con lo importante que es estimar en esta y otras profesiones... pero bueno...
Dieses Buch hat meine Sicht darauf, was Aufwandschätzung bedeutet, neu definiert und mir vor Augen geführt wie oft ich schon in die üblichen "Schätzfallen" getappt bin. Die Erkenntnis, dass die Softwarewelt ein generelles Problem mit zu niedrig angesetzten Aufwandschätzungen hat, dass Projektmanagement und Vorgesetzte den Programmierer am Ende des Projektes viel zu oft mit seiner ursprünglichen Schätzung konfrontieren, obwohl doch das ausgelieferte Produkt längst nicht mehr dem entspricht was ursprünglich geschätzt worden war, wie man sich dagegen wappnen kann, die Bedeutung der Schätzung für die Projektsteuerung und vieles mehr ist diesem genialen Buch zu entnehmen.
Wer dieses Buch in der Erwartung kauft, endlich "korrekte Schätzungen" die "halten" abliefern zu können, wird überrascht sein was es alles über dieses Thema zu erfahren gibt. Und auf jeden Fall wird der Leser durch die Lektüre auch ein besserer Schätzer werden, wenn auch vielleicht nicht so, wie er es ursprünglich erwartet hatte.
Meines Erachtens Pflichtlektüre für Softwareentwickler mit Schätzauftrag und Projektmanager gleichermaßen.
Après avoir conquis le coeur des développeurs avec Code Complete, Steve s'attaque au second point qui ennuie tout le monde, du top management à ceux qui implémente : l'évaluation du quand, quoi, combien.
Sans donner une ligne rigide, propose des pistes sur comment évaluer correctement un projet avec une précision de 15 à 20%. Sans rentrer dans le détail, en suivant quelques grandes lignes directrices, ça fonctionne.
Le plus dur, une foi les idées reprises, c'est de convaincre les autres intervenants... heureusement, une partie du livre donne des références, et des moyens pour quantifier les avantages/désavantages.
Un livre que je ne peux que recommander !
One of the first chapters describes how to read the book. If you follow this guide, you can get directly go to the applied estimation techniques. Thus, you can start using the book very fast without reading it from the beginning to the end. But of course, you should also read the theory if you can free some time.
Number one book on software estimation. Very Good.
The book arrived in perfect condition - even with that lovely "new book smell" :)