Estimation: Size Does Matter!

Many organizations find it difficult to explicitly take the step of deriving a size for the elements to be estimated, leaping directly from an overall definition of scope to the final effort or duration estimate.

Sizing is an essential step in the estimation process, significantly improving the insight and fidelity of the resulting estimates. How the practice of sizing fits into the overall estimation process is explored in this interactive workshop.

We start with a pre-workshop self-assessment and use a variety of enlightening exercises to provide a vocabulary and framework for incorporating sizing into your estimation practices.


On completion of this workshop, the student will be able to:

  • Summarize the key principles driving effective project estimation.
  • Select appropriate approaches to software sizing and estimation for specific projects and cultures.
  • Explain the value of historical data for estimation accuracy.
  • Describe the differences between various estimate calculation techniques.


This seminar will be useful for anyone involved in producing, reviewing or living up to estimates of work to be done on a technology project.


A blend of lecture, class discussion, group discussions, and practice sessions will be utilized. Practice sessions will give attendees experience in working with estimation techniques and in identifying key activities to get started.

We provide a diagnostic of current estimation practices that all participants complete prior to the workshop. This serves to introduce topics that will be covered in the session, and helps the instructor understand where to emphasize content appropriately.

Participants get a complete snapshot of the results (statistically anonymous, of course), as well as feedback on where the group lies relative to others that have taken the diagnostic in the past.


Estimation Overview

  • Your current estimation practices
  • The complexity of the problem
  • Breaking it down into manageable parts

Sizing Exercise

  • Everyday life size estimates
  • Lessons for software estimation

Why Size Matters

  • Challenges in typical estimation approaches
  • Discussion of current approaches

Sizing Considerations

  • What makes an attribute reasonable for sizing?
  • How sizing improves the estimate

Iteration and Sizing

  • Refining estimates within the project lifecycle
  • Using higher fidelity for sizing

Sizing Alternatives

  • Selecting the appropriate dimensions
  • Multiple views of sizing


  • We are not Fortune Tellers
  • Quantifying uncertainty
  • Uncertainty as a project driver

Estimation Procedures

  • Building and refining the procedure
  • Converging on a reasonable estimate
  • Historical data approaches

Calculating Effort

  • Individual performance factors
  • Task uncertainty and risk

Balancing Effort and Schedule

  • Incorporating workloads
  • Presenting Estimates
  • Estimates and Business Targets
  • Schedule aggressiveness

Please contact us for more information regarding this offering.

  • What’s Happening

  • On The Road Again

    Jim frequently travels across Western Canada for engagements, and welcomes opportunities to meet, run a workshop, Diagnostic or Lunch and Learn session.

    Contact Jim if you would like to connect around any of the upcoming dates:

    • Blissfully at home in Vancouver, BC over the summer!
  • What People are Saying

    In our brief one day session with Clarrus, we identified the key areas to focus on, and drilled down to discuss the best approach to take in each area. Rather than a sanitary discussion of best practices, we arrived at a practical, specific set of items to implement – I think we made significant progress as a development group.

    — Daniel Miller, CEO, Miller Software