Estimating Techniques for IT Projects

Improve Your Early IT Project Estimates to Reduce Costs and Increase Success Rates

Classroom Live ONSITE – Duration: 1 day (7 PDU/CDU)
Classroom Live ONLINE – Duration: 1-3 days (7 PDU/CDU)
Public Schedule

Some of this content is also available in our eCourses, eBooks, and KnowledgeKnuggets™

Course Overview

Good Estimates Require Good Communication

“How long will it take you?” That is one of the scariest questions that business analysts have to answer. Decision makers pose this question before you know what you are going to have to do to get the requirements. You have little upon which to base your answer. Given that uncertainty, no wonder that any answer you come up with will be incorrect, leading to a missed delivery date and unhappy customers.

This workshop redefines estimating as a communication process. You will discover that the number is not the most important result of effective estimating. We present methods that improve early estimates and the communication of the factors that affect them. Best practices for early project estimating are based on what you know in the form of business and stakeholder requirements, story points, and other relevant techniques. We discuss factors that affect estimating accuracy and let you apply them in a case study. In the end you will have a better grasp of the what, the when, the why, the who, and the how of effective estimating. This knowledge will reduce the fear factor the next time someone asks you, “How long will it take you?”

About Our Instructors

Tailored Business Analysis Training
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At no cost to you, we can assemble an optimal set of training topics based on your group’s current and desired business analysis skill levels. We can also use our Business Analysis Skills Evaluation (BASE) tool to establish these levels. 

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Target Audience

  • Product Owners
  • Business Analysts
  • Requirements Engineers
  • Business- and Customer-side Team Members
  • Agile Team Members
  • Subject Matter Experts (SME)
  • Project Leaders and Managers
  • Systems Analysts and Designers
  • AND “anyone wearing the business analysis hat”, meaning anyone responsible for defining a future IT solution

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this skill-building experience, you can:

  • Identify natural estimating points and the most useful methods for early estimating
  • Base initial, early project estimates on the appropriate level of requirements to communicate risks
  • Use simplified standard deviations to improve the reliability of your estimate
  • List 6 estimating approaches and present the pros and cons of each
  • Distinguish between single- and multi-point estimating approaches
  • Defend the need for and limitations of requirements-based estimating
  • Apply multiple estimating approaches for forecasting effort required to complete a project
  • Discuss Function Point Estimating and its usability in early project estimating
  • Plan to incorporate selected techniques to improve your performance on the job

Detailed Course Outline

1 Introducing Early Project Estimating

The Estimating Enigma

  • What Is an Estimate?
  • The Real Rationale for Estimating
  • Common Estimating Techniques
  • When Do You Estimate?
  • Exercise: The Realities of Estimating
  • Early Project Estimating
  • The Early Estimating Challenge

2 Simple Estimating Ideas that Work

Statistic-based Estimating

  • A Few Words on Statistics
  • Estimates and the Bell Curve
  • Estimating and Range Expectations
  • Discussion: IT and Uncertainty
  • Exercise: Flat Tire Estimate
  • Statistical Estimating Principles
  • Three-Point Estimating
  • Subdividing Projects
  • Improving the Accuracy of Your Estimates

The 20 Questions of Estimating

  • What Are You Estimating?
  • Exercise: Case Study from Chapter 1: Team
  • The Right Questions to Ask
  • The Top Twenty Cost Drivers

Swagging It

  • The SWAG Estimate
  • Exercise: Case Study 3: SWAG
  • Exercise: Case Study 4, Consensus (Team) Estimating
  • Quest for Better Estimates
  • Recap: Estimate Improvement Techniques

3 Estimating Based on History

Expert Guesses

  • The Expert Estimator
  • Units of Estimating
  • Comparison Estimating 1
  • Exercise: Comparison Estimating 2
  • Requirements Impact Estimates
  • COCOMO II Cost Factors
  • Quest/SWAG and COCOMO Cost

The Finer Points of Estimating

  • Using “Points” for Estimating
  • Points as Sizing Parameters
  • User Requirement Sizing, the Initial Process
  • User Requirement Sizing, the Estimating Process
  • Reality Check
  • Iterations, Increments & Releases
  • Backing into Duration
  • Making Points
  • Function Point Estimating
  • Profiles of Successful Projects
  • Estimating Poker for Better Results
  • Summary: Experience-Based Estimating

4 Improving Your Estimating Practices

Implementing Lessons Learned

  • Summary
  • Implement Better Estimating
  • Management Issues
  • Keeping History Databases
  • Providing Software Support
  • Avoiding Management Malpractice

5 From Showtime to Go Time!

Personal Improvement Plan

  • Understanding the Learning Curve
  • Developing Your Personal Implementation Plan