Re. Estimating customization times

Subject: Re. Estimating customization times
From: Geoff Hart <geoff-h -at- MTL -dot- FERIC -dot- CA>
Date: Wed, 12 Jul 1995 10:16:17 LCL

Patty Ewy asked about how to estimate customization times for
(presumably documentation of) software products:

Here's a dark secret from my past: If you think editors are "anal
retentive" (why don't we just say "constipated" and save a word?), you
should try research scientists. Having been one, and currently being
the other, I'll suggest a research approach: if you don't have any
good statistics already, go out and collect them. Do a trial run for a
conversion. Pick the hardest part of a full conversion project
(instead of doing the whole conversion), convert that part, and then
use this to estimate the timerequirements for the easier parts. This
will probably overestimate the time you'll actually require, but the
approach has two advantages:

1. Until you've done a few conversions, the process will be slower
than you expect (particularly since you'll have to stitch the
component parts together, and this will take additional time not
accounted for in the quickie estimate I suggested). What starts out as
an overestimate may prove an uncomfortably tight deadline the first
few times around.

2. If it really does turn out to be an overestimate, think how good
you'll look when you beat all your deadlines! <grin> Remember the Star
Trek/Next Generation episode in which Scotty joins the crew for an
episode? Picard phones down from the bridge to ask Geordi to do
something typically impossible and Geordi responds that he'll have it
done in a day. Scotty, amazed, reproaches the younger engineer in that
patented Scots accent: "Och, mon, have ye learned nothing from your
years at Starfleet? You tell them it'll take two days, then when you
do it in one, they think you're some kind of genius."

Hope you end up looking like a genius!

--Geoff Hart #8^{)}
geoff-h -at- mtl -dot- feric -dot- ca

Disclaimer: If I didn't commit it in print in one of
our reports, it don't represent FERIC's opinion.

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