Re: Estimating time

Subject: Re: Estimating time
From: John Ahlstrom <jahlstro -at- CISCO -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 30 Jan 1997 08:54:50 -0800

Robert Plamondon wrote:

>>Does anyone have any methods of estimating the time required for a
>>documentationproject, for both Winhelp and paper manuals? I've
>>always been good at doing a thumbnail estimate of time requirements,
>>but want to put a little more, ahem, timeinto it.

>My method is extremely straightforward: I use past history when estimating
>future results. For example, I can divide the total number of hours I spent
>on a project by its page length, and this gives me the number of hours
>per page. With a few projects of different types, I end up with a catalog
>of completion rates. These are reasonably accurate most of the time.

>It's important to keep in mind that these estimates are just estimates,
>and the only way to meet these estimates right on the money is to fine-tune
>the definition of the job -- adding or removing work in order to match
>the estimate.


You have to have comparable projects. Averages across all
projects are dangerous to your health, welfare and your
customers' sanity.

Would you ask a chef the average time to prepare a dish? If you
got a number, say 1 hour, would that help you estimate the time
to prepare scrambled eggs for breakfast or roast turkey for
Thanksgiving dinner?

Would you ask a surgeon the average time to do an operation? If
you got a number, say 3 hours, would that help you estimate
the time for an appendectomy, a 3-way heart bypass, as heart
transplant, ...

You can keep averages, but please keep them by project type.

John Ahlstrom
jahlstrom -at- cisco -dot- com

Paranoia means having all the facts.
-- Wm Burroughs

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