Friday, March 9, 2012

How do you estimate?

A while back I was on-site with a customer and they had this graphic posted on the wall.  Being an old school server admin I have had to suffer through the horrible estimation process that Microsoft has had in place for decades.  This graphic is a prefect representation of what it is like to have an estimate of how long a file copy will take in Windows.

But it also brings up great point about estimation in general.  In my industry we are constantly required to make estimates on how long work will take to complete, but this is without a complete view of what issues we may find in the process.  There are a lot of schools of thought regarding the process to determine the number. 

One of the most humorous approaches is called "The Scotty Principle". The general rule states as follows:
1) Determine the amount of time you feel it will take to accomplish any task.
2) Double that amount of time.
3) Add an additional 50% from step #2 and report that as the estimate.
4) Deliver the work in 60% of the time you gave as an estimate.

Congratulations you are now a miracle worker and the client loves you to death. At least as long as they don't know about the Scotty Principle for estimating.  Sadly my wife knows this and always divides my final number by 2 and expects is to actually show up about that time instead of what I told her.

If I tell her the number from step 1 she automatically doubles it and expects that amount of time.  It really is pretty tough when your best customer knows you that well.


1 comment:

Ted said...

The same principle should apply to home improvements be it DIY or a contractor. Oh yes, and double the cost too.