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Software Engineering: Padding the Estimate

What do you consider a reasonable percentage to pad a delivery time estimate by, for software engineering projects? How about a budget estimate?

If your answer is "it depends", what does it depend on, in your view?

I used to tell my students to pad a time estimate by at least 30% when giving me an estimate, and I regularly tolerate padding by 50%. When it gets close to 100%, though, I find that the expectations become unreasonably lowered.

--
Banazir

Comments

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
mapjunkie
Nov. 29th, 2008 02:09 am (UTC)
I jokingly say multiply by 2.5 and shift the unit, for example 1 hour becomes two and a half days. It seems perversely long, but it seems to catch the usual unexpected, and even most of the unexpected unexpected.

But, otherwise, I'm very skeptical of time estimation for software if it isn't accompanied by a corresponding statistical learning practice that will actually go and learn what happened when estimates go wrong.

I actually work the opposite way: I'll have something every two to three days, and then it's a matter of estimating what I'll have done by then.


mansu
Nov. 29th, 2008 01:33 pm (UTC)
This is the algorithm my manager used to estimate time when I worked:

1) Come up with a perfectly good estimate of the amount of time it will take.
2) Double that time.
3) Add a buffer to it.

He told me that most of the time, he was on time by using this algorithm.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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