Austin-SPIN - Archives - SEP10

Austin SPIN – Archives – September 9, 2010



"Software Estimation - Demystifying the Black Art"

Panel Discussion, with references to Steve McConnell's Book



Panel Speakers: Scott Brookhart, Software Architect at Texas Education Agency; Kara Nicholas, PM at UT Austin; Andrew Badgley, Validation Technician at AMD

Speaker files available in the bottom


Abstract of the Talk:

Software Project Estimation is a task fraught with errors, difficulties and uncertainty. Yet, it is a sorely needed piece of the puzzle that dramatically impacts the lifelines of software projects – namely, schedule, budget, resources, and ultimately quality. A poor estimate can lead to a number of problems: an underfunded project and expectations of completion before the project is ready, resources sitting idle waiting to be deployed, a schedule that is under constant revision, and project managers trekking back and forth to management and stakeholders explaining why the project is not where it was expected.   Some of the questions we find with software estimation are:

1.     Why is estimation so difficult?

2.     What can we do to take out some of the difficulty and uncertainty?

3.     If I have never done this before, how can I estimate how long it will take?


Steve McConnell’s book “Software Estimation – Demystifying the Black Art” is the book chosen by the Austin Software Process Improvement Network book club. Participants from the book club will discuss their experiences while participating in the book club and reading the book, as well as their experiences with software estimation.  Be prepared for an interactive discussion on this mystical art. Bring your puzzles and questions about estimation to the session, too!


About the Speakers:

Scott Brookhart is a software professional experienced in all aspects of the software development lifecycle. He is a former board member of the Austin Software Process Improvement Network, holds several certifications and has several degrees including an MBA and an MS in Software Engineering.

Kara Nicholas is a project manager for Identity Management Services at the University of Texas at Austin.  She has ten years of experience in IT infrastructure, including work as a developer and QA manager.  Kara's first career was in classical archaeology, leading research efforts in southern Italy.

Andrew Badgley is a software validation enginerd with experience in computer hardware development, processor-level testing, and validation.  He recently provided CPU validation services for Advanced Micro Devices (AMD), qualifying the design and  performance of microprocessor logic for several leading-edge designs.  In prior positions, Andrew was the lead tester on a mobile device for use in business laptops from Dell, and also ran his own company for many years providing computer support to corporations of various sizes.  In addition to his technical interests at work, Andrew works with numerous non-profit groups in the area providing technical assistance when needed.

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