Avoiding the trap of averages: Optimizing development timeline estimates

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Software development projects have many phases. From the initial idea to the final tests, it involves many people involved in designing a new piece of software. As such, there are many factors that can make your software development timeline longer or shorter than planned.

Developers will often use averages to estimate project timelines. However, there are many things that are not taken into account when using the average. For example, how is your team coordinated? Does your team get along well and work together? Does your team know how to manage a remote workforce?

You also need to have a clear goal in mind to ensure that your project is not delayed due to lack of focus. Ask yourself: Does your project stick closely to your goal and solve the identified problem?

Why is accurate timeline estimation important?

Estimating a specific timeline for your project will help you to run or implement your new software easily.

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It will also help your team understand what the reality is in terms of completing the project. It also helps to avoid unnecessary stress.

Using the average to work on a project timeline can yield results, but it can also lead to frustration or confusion in your team. If a project takes much longer than estimated, you may lose the sales deadline and damage the team’s morale.

On the other hand, if your project takes much less time than planned, you may be surprised that you missed something.

Optimizing your timeline estimates will help eliminate these problems.

Here are four ways you can optimize your estimated timeline for a new software development project. Keep in mind that the best timeline is not always short. The best timeline will be precise and give your team enough time to complete the project properly.

Understand the complexity of the project

Your project will fall into the trap of average if you do not consider how complex the software development is.

If your project is ambitious in your sector, you have to devote more time than average to this.

To see an example, consider the IoT automation project. You might consider creating a very simple solution to a household problem like remote-control lighting. Or, you’re probably building a holistic system for the whole house.

Both projects use IoT automation, but one will obviously take longer than the other.

Here are some key points to consider with project complexity:

  • Have we done anything like this before?
  • How many people are involved?
  • How much testing is involved?
  • How many steps are involved in development?

This way, you can be more accurate in your estimates and meet the needs of your project,

Create a time buffer

One of the ways businesses can set themselves up for a missed deadline is lack of flexibility.

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When planning your project, you need to make sure that you allow time for delays. To do this, you need to understand what kind of delays you may face. You also want to know how long it will take to resolve these issues.

For example, let’s say your project is a business communication solution, what are the channels of communication? Types of delays that you may encounter include problems measuring software and integrating it with existing software.

You can work with your sales team, customer service team and developers to find potential solutions to future problems. These solutions should include the proposed timeline. This should be realistic to fit in with your resources.

Excessive time pressure has a negative effect on employee productivity. By accepting these buffers, you will eliminate another trap that can lead to average timeline stress and associated delays.

Decrease the decision by the committee

A decision-by-committee kills workplace productivity.

While it is always good to get a second opinion on a big project, you can save yourself a lot of delay in software development by handing over the responsibility as soon as possible. Let each member of your team know what decisions they are making and how. For example:

  • Keep decision makers in familiar areas
  • Try to balance so that everyone gets involved and reaches a quick decision

One of the best ways to do this is with a standup meeting. A standup meeting is a short, snappy meeting with your team. It usually lasts about 15 minutes and is a great way to make quick decisions about the project. It’s also a great way to avoid other types of delays, including delays in replying to emails and if someone on your team works part-time.

Create step-by-step

Consider each part of the project from beginning to end. How long should the average take? Now think about whether that average will work for you.

Do your engineers have a lot of experience? Is your project complemented with appropriate tech industry marketing skills? Will taking a step back stop the whole project?

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It’s usually easier to start at the beginning and work toward the end, but you’ll find that working from the rollout to the back works better. Whichever way you go, be sure to take some time to figure out what could potentially extend the project’s timeline.

For example, software quality testing can be straightforward if you do not find any errors. But if you run into problems, it can add weeks to your project. You can try to divide the project into phases and estimate the timeline for each.

While you are doing this, you can also work out if any part of the project can be done with other parts. Not everything will be one by one, so you can get a more accurate timeline by accounting for this.

Next steps

Before planning a timeline for your software development project, you will need to do some research and perform software testing methods on potential issues that may delay the rollout.

Be sure to involve your design team in estimating your timeline. They should be comfortable with what you decide and be confident that they can deliver the project within that time.

Jenna is a senior manager at Dialpad, Content Marketing,


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