I am starting to see that my new boss is basically the same as the old boss when it comes to software projects. Pretty much clueless. Sounds like the new boss did a software project once or something, so of course if you ask him, he is an expert. These guys do not understand schedule estimation in software. It is a huge problem that seems to plague software companies little and big, and it deffinitiely is a problem for managers on the customer side. What they don’t seem to understand is that there is a world of difference between an ‘estimate’ and a ‘goal’. The project that I am working on was given a ‘goal’, against my wishes. The problem with ‘goals’ is that they don’t take into consideration the resources you have available to you.

If a manager asks me for an ‘estimate’, then knowing the productivity of the developers, and the size of the project I will do the best I can to provide a schedule that is as accurate as possible with respect to how the group will perform. If I give that estimate back to the manager, and the manager cuts it in half and gives it back to me and tells me to start, we have just been given a ‘goal’. ‘Goals’ are rarely met.

If you want to validate software schedule estimates, I would suggest reading one of Tom Demarco’s books, and pick up a copy of Capers Jones’s book. Capers has tables which detail average productivity for different types of languages and domains.

The new boss came to me yesterday to discuss the project being behind. I explained that the schedule estimates that were accepted by corporate managers above me were BS. The new boss claims that it doesn’t matter. I think what he meant to say was that it doesn’t matter to him, because it certainly does matter to me.

What am I trying to say here? I guess that for a while I was thinking that I had the managers that I work for educated about ‘goals’, ‘estimates’ and software projects. I am seeing now that they either were not listening, or don’t care.

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