Below are some software development time estimation techniques that will help you accurately estimate man-hours for a software project.
Clearly Define the Complexity of Your Project
Take your software project’s complexity seriously and understand the level of risk involved with that software development, as it can heavily affect the duration. Likewise, it’s recommended that you divide projects into three parts, namely:
Developing software with specific predictable requirements, such as a primary customer portal for a small company. Henceforth, the estimation will be predictable and accurate, while the involved risk will be the lowest.
What Can Be Known
A software project with its core predictable but has specific requirements in addition. For example, developing a customer portal but also integrating ERP. Therefore, small risks are probable at the time of integration.
Suppose there’s a software development project involving specific technology or innovation and uncertainty in business requirements such as developing software on Agile techniques. In that case, such software projects have higher risks. Likewise, there can’t be an exact time estimation as well.
Therefore, figuring out the complexity of the software project helps the company tremendously as you can defend how much time should be dedicated to the project and how much risk will be involved.
Giving General Estimation
Before you make a detailed software project estimation, your customer may want to know a rough estimation, to form an expectation. Henceforth, once you identify software complexity, it’s recommended that you make a rough estimation based on your earlier software development experience and make your client aware of it. For example, you can give an approximate idea that it’ll take around six months for two developer teams with five people to complete the project.
Estimate Work Scope
For detailed software project estimation, it’s recommended that you build the scope of work that shows the exact requirement of the software and then evaluate each requirement. In addition, ensure what software development techniques you’re using in your project.
Traditional practices involve underlying requirements that don’t change so quickly. Henceforth, it’s recommended that you break down the requirements into small and easy to estimate tasks. For instance, using Work Breakdown Structure, a tree structure that shows you the phase of software development related to each task.
Once you complete all the processes, you can start the time estimation of each task using the two below-mentioned methods:
The Wideband Delphi is an estimation method that uses consensus-based techniques for estimating the tasks. Likewise, it compares results and raises or negotiates each task-related concern.
It’s the data-driven estimation based on similar activities of your previous projects. So, for instance, if you go through the estimation and real-time spent on earlier projects doesn’t coincide, you’ll be able to know which activities are riskier according to the timeline. Henceforth, you can give more time and management effort to that task.
Note: The precise time needed for the development is enough for smaller projects. And, for more significant Waterfall projects, it’s recommended to go minimum to the maximum time needed for each task—for example, WBS (Work Breakdown Structure). So, you’ll be able to make sure issues don’t alter your project development flow.
In this method scope of the work changes once any change occurs in the requirement. Likewise, the workload is based on the value of end-users. It means the more value a feature it provides, the sooner it’ll be developed. Likewise, the planned tasks are shown in the backlog according to the priority.
Furthermore, it’s recommended that it’s better to estimate efforts instead of the time when it comes to Agile projects. And you can also point out the effort consumption of units for the user. In addition, it’s recommended:
- You start with the complexity estimation of a sample. For example, you are logging through a web page. And give critical points to your team. So, everyone can use that as a reference for estimating the task.
- It would be best if you went through the backlog so project team members could estimate the complexity of every task. So, you can discuss this within the team accordingly.
Adding Risk Buffer
You should add an overall risk buffer between 5 to 25% of the overall project depending on the complexity of the project depending upon common risk factors like:
- You cannot overlook issues such as integration issues and failure of software that affect users.
- Conflicts within team members reduce productivity.
- The unpredictability of newer technology such as a third-party API that customer is looking to use.
Making Enough Space for Time Eating Tasks
Always have around 20% of a project time for time eaters such as team meetings, productivity drops, communication gaps, etc.
For instance, you can make use of the below formula:
The project overall has an estimation of task time of 8200 hours overall. Hereafter you can:
8200 + 8200 * 0.25 + 8200 * 0.20 = 11890 Total hours needed.
This method is quite similar to analogy, but it offers more accuracy. It involves statistical or mathematical steps such as:
- Firstly, it tries to recognize the factors of development like functional and non-functional requirements of the business, the project’s overall complexity, and its associated technology.
- Getting information about the required task to be completed according to similar past projects and then relating it to the total number of units applicable to an ongoing project.
- The cost is estimated based on the empirical relationship between the total number of tasks of the project and the factors involved with it, and then accuracy is used.
It’s another software time estimation where three ranges of estimation from three different data points are provided. The three points are namely best scenario, likely scenario, and worst scenario. And the final estimation is the average of the estimates.
Furthermore, this three-point estimation has the advantage of reducing the chances of an inflated estimate. It’s also among the simple yet effective software development and cost estimation methods.
In the bottom-up estimation technique, the software project is divided into several tasks and sub-tasks, which can be managed and tackled easily. Henceforth, it becomes easier to manage software development time estimation. Likewise, task estimation should be separate, and the overall total from the bottom to top should be again calculated for final estimation.
Though it takes more time for estimation, it also gives a more accurate estimation by considering every component in detail.