One of the hardest things to do in software development is to determine how long and how much it will take to deliver a new software product. Should it be so hard? The answer is not straightforward.
Software costs estimation is inherently difficult, and humans are terribly bad at predicting absolute outcomes. No two projects are the same;each is unique in what it sets out to achieve, and unique in the myriad of parameters that form its existence. Often, what appears to be a simple problem on the surface is much harder or technically challenging to implement in reality. And, undoubtedly, there will be ‘unknowns’ with the project that can only be identified when they arise.
Additionally, no two people are the same, whether you’re a customer, a developer or a user. We come preloaded with our own set of knowledge, experiences, values, expectations, attitude to risk, and ability to adapt.
Writing good quality software is bread and butter for senior engineers; creating awesome software products can be a much harder endeavour, for all involved.
But when it comes to software, understanding duration and cost are key in making strategic business decisions and this is true whether you’re creating a startup, realising a new business opportunity, or enabling your business to perform better. The timing, return on investment and benefit delivered can make, shake or break your business. You’ll be asking yourself: What do we get for our money? Can we predict our costs? What will it cost to create the product we want ? When can we launch? Will we get a quality product for our investment? Will it grow with our business? Will it deliver business value?
So, how do you go about estimating the size, duration and cost of a project? Let’s explore Agile project estimation and software development costs, and how we do it at Toptal.