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Software Estimation: Demystifying the Black Art [Paperback]

Steve McConnell
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
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Book Description

4 Mar 2006 0735605351 978-0735605350 1

Often referred to as the “black art” because of its complexity and uncertainty, software estimation is not as difficult or puzzling as people think. In fact, generating accurate estimates is straightforward—once you understand the art of creating them. In his highly anticipated book, acclaimed author Steve McConnell unravels the mystery to successful software estimation—distilling academic information and real-world experience into a practical guide for working software professionals. Instead of arcane treatises and rigid modeling techniques, this guide highlights a proven set of procedures, understandable formulas, and heuristics that individuals and development teams can apply to their projects to help achieve estimation proficiency.

Discover how to:

  • Estimate schedule and cost—or estimate the functionality that can be delivered within a given time frame
  • Avoid common software estimation mistakes
  • Learn estimation techniques for you, your team, and your organization * Estimate specific project activities—including development, management, and defect correction
  • Apply estimation approaches to any type of project—small or large, agile or traditional
  • Navigate the shark-infested political waters that surround project estimates


When many corporate software projects are failing, McConnell shows you what works for successful software estimation.


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Software Estimation: Demystifying the Black Art + Code Complete: A Practical Handbook of Software Construction
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Product details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Microsoft Press; 1 edition (4 Mar 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0735605351
  • ISBN-13: 978-0735605350
  • Product Dimensions: 0.1 x 0.2 x 0.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 352,648 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Product Description

About the Author

Steve McConnell is recognized as one of the premier authors and voices in the development community. He is Chief Software Engineer of Construx Software and was the lead developer of Construx Estimate and of SPC Estimate Professional, winner of Software Development magazine's Productivity Award. He is the author of several books, including Code Complete and Rapid Development, both honored with Software Development magazine's Jolt Award.


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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index
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Customer Reviews

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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Every software estimator must read 9 Mar 2007
Format:Paperback
At the beginning the tile put me off, as everybody else I though "I know how to estimate, I don't need this book". Well, I was trying to enhance my estimations and I decided to have a go on it.

At the beginning of the book you are bombarded with stories about how wrong estimations can be and presents you with tons of statistics, you start to think "hey! These guys didn't know anything about estimations!" but when you continue reading I started to realize that their estimations are based on pillars that I am also using... scary. At this stage I was more interested on the book.

The book is full of tips and descriptions about the different areas that you must consider on your estimations, taking into account size, effort, schedule and tons of planning parameters. This book is a recommended one to have on your bookshelf as you cannot remember all these things in one go. Another interesting area of the book is the negotiation skills, who wasn't involved in a situation where your boss tells you to introduce hundreds of features within the same timeframe? Well, this book helps you to deal with those situations.

The only reason why I don't give it 5 stars is because of the amount of stats, that actually cuts the flow of the reading on every page. But trust me, you won't regret.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
Steve McConnell gives a superb overview of 30 years of software estimation practices. The book is useful for both managers (to establish how well the company estimates software projects) and practitioners (with many pointers to literature with more in-depth discussions).

I liked in particular the clear distinction the book makes between estimates, targets and commitments. Also, the political minefield associated with estimates is discussed well. Another area which I liked very much is the emphasis on clarifying the assumptions on which the estimates were based.

Having said this, the book could be even better if it would explore deeper the following topics:

1) Who are permitted to estimate? The book loosely mentions that the best estimators are those who will do the work. True, but this is a minimum requirement.

2) What exactly is estimated? It takes about 20 chapters before the author mentions that most of the rules and benchmark material refer to the design, construction and testing of software (excluding requirements gathering and project management). It would be helpful if the scope of the software development would have been described more precisely from the beginning

3) A software development project most likely will be embedded in a larger project intending to deliver a business change. The book would have benefited from exploring the relationship (regarding effort, cost, schedule) with the components of the larger project

4) The book does not mention the relationship with benefit estimation. Also, today's software engineers are expected to be able to speak the language of finance, and the book would have benefited by discussing the time value of money, capitalization etc.

Nevertheless, this is a must buy for software engineers and managers who are involved in project estimation.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An eye-opening book 12 Aug 2009
Format:Paperback
Within the context of a response to a call for tender, I was given the 'not-that-trivial' task of writing a piece on how our company approached software estimation. I must confess that I had never thought of it as a process. Therefore, I bought the book to get an overview of estimation techniques and practices.

I must admit that I did not throw my money away. McConnel's book is a step by step approach to software estimation based on a collection of facts and study results. He drives you through those techniques in a progressive way and compiles a list of tips that everyone shall keep handy.

The book covers major estimation techniques as well as provides directions as to when to apply them to ensure that one gets the most accurate results. The most important idea that the book conveys is that one shall always try and find something to count in order to compute and not to guess.

To make a long story short, this book's a must have.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Good Kindle Book. Loses a Star due to no TOC. 4 Dec 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Good book as per Steve McConnell's other books. I have both Code Complete 2 in paper and Kindle versions.

Both are great reading when I'm travelling and I tend to read the Kindle version as both books (in paper) are weighty tomes.

One thing that's a bit odd with this book is that there's no Table of Contents on the Kindle Version. Hence -1 Star.

In my kindle version, there's sections Cover,Software Estimation..,Welcome,Acknowledgements,Equations,Figures,I,II,III,A,B,C,Bibliography,Steve McConnell,Index,About the Author,Copyright,Location.

In my paper version, on page iii, there's contents at a glance, and on page v there's Table Of Contents.

I wonder if this was missed in the conversion?!
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