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Discussion on: Bad Habits We Learn in School

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James Hood Author

Great callout Walker. This blog entry is actually an excerpt from a talk I gave internally at Amazon. During that talk I discuss software estimation in a little more detail. I recommend reading the essay, The Mythical Man-Month, which is one of the essays in the famous book with the same title. The essay is short, but it does a great job summarizing several reasons why software is so incredibly difficult to estimate.

In the talk I said inexperienced software engineers can underestimate a project by as much as 4-6 times(!!) since they generally don't even think about the cost of tasks required to really productionize a service, such as unit/integration tests, metrics/monitoring, oncall dashboards, etc.

I definitely know of managers who apply their own padding to their developers' estimates before communicating them up.

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Walker Harrison

Interesting -- will check out the essay. There's a similar sentiment in data science, which I'm studying, which says that 90% of any project is simply acquiring and cleaning the data. All those fancy predictive techniques only come into play in the last mile.