StarEast, Estimating with Confidence

During one of the group sessions at the StarEast conference, the presenter suggested all time estimations should be accompanied by a confidence level percentage. The idea behind this was to help put the time estimate into context because sometimes we are asked to give an estimate without having enough information. So, for example, if someone estimated it will take three weeks to test but they are only about 30% confident in the estimate, people would know they need to do some more planning and gather more information. However if the confidence level was 80%, they would know this is something they could work with.

The main thing to remember is to be truthful because if you always give inaccurate time estimates with inaccurate confidence levels, before too long neither one will have any meaning.

Below are a few main goals for specifying a confidence level:

  1. To demonstrate how accurate you feel the time estimates are at any given point. As more information is provided, the level should go up.
  2. To cause a warning flag to be raised by the team when they see a low confidence level. Hopefully this will lead to them ask what is needed to get the confidence level up.
  3. To provide a way to meet a requirement (project estimation) early on without putting any false pretenses in anyone’s mind.
  4. To help build confidence among the team when they see a higher level of confidence in the estimation.

posted @ Saturday, July 17, 2004 1:01 PM