Friday, March 14, 2014

Need to estimate, part II

In the spirit of Need to estimate, the following discussion happened yesterday.

- I know that you don't like estimating but I'm afraid I have to ask you to do that. We need to know which of these (on the wall) will be done by the end of March.

- I don't have a problem for estimating if that is the valid way to solve the real need. So first I would like to understand what kind of decisions are made based on these estimates.

- Well, it's important to inform certain people if this (pointing to a task on the wall) won't be done because then they have to find another solution for the problem.

- Are you sure asking the estimates is the right question here? Isn't the right question, at least initially, whether we should build this feature at all? I think we talked earlier that it actually doesn't make sense for us to implement it since it kind of doesn't belong to our application?

- Yes, I guess you're right. And there will be so few users that it won't pay back if we build it. Manual work for these cases should be just fine, at least by now.

- Exactly.

- Ok, I will just tell them that this won't be done by the end of March and actually not at all in the foreseen feature. Thanks!

- Sure, no problem.


  1. You did great! You questioned a "stupid" request to estimate something that wasn't even yet decided if it should be built at all.
    You did that by estimating that it probably shouldn't be built.
    To decide you need to estimate. But perhaps not estimate the effort before estimating if doing it at all...

    1. The point of this post was not whether there occurs estimating of some kind or not. The point is that in software development we are used to solving things by asking time/cost/etc estimates when it would be better to look the problem from some other angle.

      I feel that calling the request stupid is a bit arrogant. First of all I'm working with really smart people. Secondly, it sounds like it would be always really obvious what is stupid and what is not. Maybe it's for you but not for the rest of the world, I think. I find this of a bit of like the egg of Columbus. Sometimes things are really obvious afterwards but not beforehand.