Woody Zuill has started a page linking to #NoEstimates articles. In aid of that, here’s a list of my materials on estimation, and not estimating.

  • Project Description talks about the plans for this site, the fact that I very much wanted an estimate – in fact felt that I needed one – and couldn’t begin to get one.
  • Estimation is Still Hard talks a bit about the difficulties we have estimating the construction of this site, even though we’re maybe half-way done doing it.
  • Estimate This (or not) considers a not-unreasonable power monitoring product and asks how one might decide whether to fund it.
  • The NoEstimates Movement points out that this idea isn’t new (just like Agile wasn’t, just like whatever you just thought of wasn’t) and raises some issues around why we can’t just stop estimating.
  • A Metric Leading to Agility, referred to in the preceding article, may be the first place I mentioned the “Running Tested Features” metric, back in 2004.
  • Getting Small Stories is an article responding to a question about how to get small slices. After a courteous nod to Neil Killick’s good idea, it suggests that a stupid idea might often suffice.
  • Cost and Time are not Irrelevant. Kate Oneal weighs in on #NoEstimates.
  • Making the Date points out that no matter who estimates, or if no one does, making the date is management’s job, not the programmers’.
  • Estimation is Evil is an article written for PragPub’s magazine, back in February 2013, talking about, well, the evils of estimation.
  • Estimation (The Best We Can Do) is a follow-up to Estimation is Evil, pointing out that sometimes we have to estimate, and offering a few suggestions about doing it.

Doubtless there’s more in my site. In a sense, since Agile is all about getting the most value in every iteration, and over the course of the project, some sense of the cost of things is important. So, in a sense, much of what we do comes down to the value/cost balance – and both of those variables involve estimation.

Some of the people in the #NoEstimates movement are quite reluctant to discuss estimates at all: they are all about alternatives to estimation. I’m fine with that, while I recognize that many people out there are not in a position to decline when “invited” to make an estimate.

To me, there’s a gap between one truth – we aren’t good at estimating and most of us never will be – and another – they demand estimates and aren’t likely to stop. Slowly, we begin to bridge this gap.

The gap is closing much slower than I’d like. But if you’re willing to engage with your management, and if you’re willing to get shot down over and over, I think you can begin to help them understand that steering projects to success is far more valuable and far more important than estimating them correctly at the beginning.