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Discussion on: ⏰ How to nail time estimations

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ximias profile image
Alex Holberg

Sure, time estimation hard for a feature, but at least it is possible to do!
I get asked quite a bit about estimating the length of a debugging session. Usually I'll reply something along the lines of "I can tell you when I know what is wrong" or "between 5 minutes and two weeks"

Others in our software department has started using that last one, when they get pressed during debugging, which has earned us a bit of a reputation among the PMs 😆

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carmenhchung profile image
Carmen Chung Author

Haha I've also heard some devs say "How long is a piece of string?" when asked how long something is going to take. Debugging is such a tricky one, because like you said, it's so hard to estimate when you're not sure what the issue is (and if you were sure, you probably wouldn't be debugging!).

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Gabor Szabo

I don't understand this "How long is a piece of string?" but reading it, it occured to me that if I don't have a map and I stand at one end of the road then in order to estimate how long it is, or how long it will take me to walk to the other end, I actually have to walk to the other end.

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carmenhchung profile image
Carmen Chung Author

Yeah, "how long is a piece of string" is a pretty bizarre English saying in my opinion! There's a pretty interesting account on the etymology of the phrase here: english.stackexchange.com/question...

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Dave

I said "How long is a piece of string" at least 5 times today.

I also said "what you want to achieve is not feasible, go back to the drawing board" at least twice.

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ximias profile image
Alex Holberg

That's a good one too. I'll totally start using it 😆

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squidbe • Edited

My team has to estimate work every sprint, which is expected of course, but when we're asked to estimate how long before a bug is fixed, I simply tell the asker that we won't know until we find the bug. They rarely insist on an estimate, but when they do, I will not budge... because it's obviously unreasonable to demand an estimate to solve an unknown problem. Luckily, the engineering leadership where I work are reasonable about this and back up the engineers when PMs make unreasonable requests.