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Requirements-Based Estimating and Scheduling
Best Practices

The increasing demand for complex software coupled with the inability of many organizations to write clear, concise requirements results in increased time to market, increased rework, and lower quality products—all of which negatively impacts your company's bottom line. Further compounding the problem, many companies over-commit (commit to more than they can reasonably expect to deliver) and under-deliver (deliver less than was promised).

Since software project teams are often unable to accurately estimate and schedule the work they need to perform, Management frequently imposes delivery dates for new products. With the end date given, the project team is forced to "schedule backwards". Schedules developed in this manner are always unrealistic since the project team must estimate task duration based on time available rather than time required.

Since most companies provide little or no training in writing requirements, task estimating and project scheduling, it's not surprising that software projects are frequently delivered late, with fewer features than were promised, and with too many bugs.

To address this problem, organizations need to learn how to:
  • Write better requirements;
  • Accurately estimate tasks based on those requirements;
  • Develop accurate, realistic schedules based on these estimates, and
  • Under-commit and over-deliver, that is, make promises that can actually be met and deliver more than was promised.

This full day workshop provides the skills to learn how to under-commit and over-deliver. The workshop focuses on understanding the importance of writing good requirements and specific skills need to accomplish this. Next, we discuss basic estimating skills and review several estimating best practices. A hands-on estimating exercise is used to illustrate the Wideband Delphi Method.

Finally, scheduling skills are discussed along with examples of Scheduling Best Practices. The Yellow Sticky Method is presented as an example of a best practice project teams can use to develop realistic schedules that can be met. An interactive exercise using the Yellow Sticky Method is used to illustrate the power of this scheduling technique.

This informal, interactive workshop is based in part on my book: Software Verification and Validation for Practitioners and Managers, 2nd ed 2001, Artech House.

Topics covered include:

  • Requirements—the key to accurate estimates and realistic schedules
  • Ambiguity—ways to identify and remove ambiguity from requirements
  • Techniques to Reduce Ambiguity
  • Managing Change
  • Requirements Management Activities and Tools
  • Requirements Exercise...
  • Why estimates and schedules are so often wrong?
  • Typical "Scheduled-backwards" project
  • Estimating—Why most estimates are wrong
  • Estimates, Targets, Commitments, Schedules
  • Estimating Best Practices
  • Function Points
  • Wideband Delphi Method
  • Improving Estimating Skills
  • Estimation Exercise
  • Scheduling—Why most schedules are wrong
  • Scheduling Best Practices
  • Gantt, CPM, PERT
  • Yellow Sticky Method
  • Dealing with changes to requirements
  • Scheduling Exercise...


This workshop can be tailored to meet your specific project needs and development process.
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