No estimate software development

Have you heard of the No Estimates Software Development approach?

Software development, in general, can go messy as you can imagine, that is why we have rules, processes, and tools to help small and large teams control code quality and timed delivery. The key asset to a proper software plan is estimating how long a feature/ task might require. The estimation process can be hectic, depending on several technical and non-technical factors, including the following:

  • The level of seniority: a team of senior (experienced) developers deliver better code, follow the process and adhere to conventions and best practices.
  • The subject matter of experience: one of the common issues in estimating software tasks that some might do, is to treat all tasks equal, regardless of the business of application in hand, and the team’s experience in that business. Usually, for a small to medium project size, a single subject matter expert in the team can lead the entire development process. For example, if the development team has never worked on a hotel booking site, there must be a learning curve to be considered.
  • Technical subject matter experience: Technology and software development have so many domains including web, desktop, cloud, mobile applications, artificial intelligence and many more. If the team has never worked on iOS development, another factor should be considered here.

Estimation is considered a commitment that you have to honor, requirements might change, or you might not be a subject matter expert, so unclear requirements and the fear of commitment lead to unrealistic estimations.

But on the other hand, can’t we deliver software skipping the estimation stage? If you are familiar with a certain repetitive task that your team is an expert in, does it has to have the same estimate the same time? Why don’t we estimate only the new features or tasks?

Woody Zuill, a senior consultant, trainer, and Agile coach, was recently hosted on .NET Rocks podcast. He is one of the advocates to “No Estimates” software development, listen to him and let me know what you think in the comments.