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June 23, 2022 06:58 am GMT

Why Estimates Are Waste

Software development is unpredictable but people waste hours every week trying to guess how long tasks willtake.

No Estimates

Estimation can provide confidence in future changes, but this doesnt apply to software development because:

  • If you can predict work then you should automate it instead of repeating it.
  • If you cant predict work then attempting to do so is a waste oftime.

Automation Instead of Accurate Estimation

Repetition increases predictability. It isnt possible to accurately estimate how long a task will take if you have never done it. In other words, the more you repeat a task the more predictable itbecomes.

Predictability  Repetitions

Repeated work should be automated. In software development the ability to re-use libraries, frameworks, and APIs means that repeatable work can be automated. The more you repeat it the more effort would be saved with code re-use and automation.

Value of Automation  Repetitions

Accurate Estimates Correlate with Wasted Effort. As repetitions increase the value of automating and the predictability both go up. Therefore

V  R P

Inaccurate Estimation isHarmful

If the purpose of estimation is to plan around the future then inaccurate estimates can only lead to problems. This is compounded by the cost of estimating work in time andeffort.

Instead of spending time and effort on estimating work that cant be predicted or should be automated we should find alternatives. One of the most agile approaches is to work without estimates.

Working Without Estimates

Working without estimates is critical to good software development and goes hand in hand with continuous delivery. The simplest process to work without estimates is:

  1. Identify the most valuabletask.
  2. Work on thattask.
  3. Repeat.

It is important to consider the time spent on estimating work and the value it provides. This minimal process may be too strict for you but next time you are estimating your work consider the value it provides.

If you would like to discuss this further please contact me on Twitter @BenTorvo or Email [email protected]

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