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Changing Software Estimates the Agile Way

Just when you think estimating can’t get any harder, it’s time for the software estimate. The dreaded software estimate has remained largely unchanged in the last few decades, mostly because it’s so complex that only the software creator can touch it. Is it any surprise that there is often as much as a 50% margin of error surrounding the final cost? Kane Mar believes it’s time to lower that percentage using Agile methods.

One way to do this is to take a fixed-price, fixed-scope approach and estimate the project using what Mar calls a “coarse scale.” The coarse scale method is a little like sizing t-shirts, you have to sell them in small, medium, and large. Estimate the project on a small, medium, or large scale and then deliver the results to the customer based on their budget flexibility.

Another method is to use Scrum to determine the cost of software. It’s a risky method that involves meaningful questions like asking how much the customer really values the product. However, the benefits can be well worth the risks. You’ll never see changes in software estimates if you wait for someone else to change them.


About Rachel Ginder

Rachel Ginder was a staff writer for CAI's Accelerating IT Success and joined the team in 2013. She also helped with social media and research.

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