Recently we have seen a number of estimation software populating the software development market. Most of them claim to be a tool capable of producing the best estimates for your next project. But how do you choose the software that is right for your company?
As I have always stated – Adopting or leaving a practice/model/tool should be based on informed decision making. The purpose of a software estimation tool is not just smarter and accurate estimates but also justification of those estimates with valid reasons. What is the benefit of employing an automation tool which is not robust enough to make your clients believe your estimates? Your scope document decides your fate –whether you win or lose your project. You have to be extensively granular in analysis of software estimation to prepare robust estimates.
So before choosing a particular software system to improve your development capabilities – you need to ask two questions –
• Does it enable granular estimation capabilities?
• If the answer is yes, up to what level?
To guide your decision making when choosing the right estimation software for you company, you will want to follow the advice below:
Top 12 Tips for Choosing Estimation Software –
1. The estimation software should act as a single interface for estimating multiple projects together. It should enable you to list as many clients and users as you want. Purpose – save time with multitasking.
2. It should allow multiple user access with simple set up capabilities so that even an employee with minimal estimation knowledge can produce an estimate with the same level of ease as an expert estimator would.
3. The estimation software should allow you to choose from multiple technology platforms e.g. Java, .NET, Android or IOS .
4. There must be pre-built implementation types (for each platform technology) so that you can apply relevant types for the proposed software.
5. The tool must be able to calculate effort accurately based on number of developers(in team), installations and deployments.
6. Any extra adds in to development such as version control or build script set up should be accounted for in the scope document.
7. Users should be defined on the basis of user role and the tool should allow customized permission settings for each user.
8. The tool must allow the ability to add the necessary functions of the program by use case, implementation type, input and output screens and effort distribution in percentages. A percentage distribution of effort would allow adding an analysis to your effort specification so if a particular screen of the application looks effort heavy, the client has the option to make modifications.
9. The estimation software must allow compatibility to manage multiple testing environments. This means you should be able to test cross a number of devices (desktop/laptop, mobile, tablet), different screen resolutions (1024×768, 1136×640 etc), different operating systems (Windows, iOS, Android,Linux), browsers (Chrome, IE, Safari , etc) and adjust test level and test effort in percentages.
10. Your final scope document must be a summary of all your entries into the estimation software and show your effort breakdown (development & Test) in percentage. You must be able to share your document across users and send it to your client for approval.
11. The ability to add review comments to estimates would be an added advantage. If the estimates get disapproved, the development team can review the comments to understand causes of disapproval.
12. There must be robust communication mechanisms for status report of the estimates. This would let the team know if the estimate is in progress, in review, waiting for approval, approved or have been rejected.
The above discussed capabilities would enable the development team to estimate with flexibility and granularity. The scope document would be more robust. Besides, if stakeholders can understand effort distribution in percentage, they can change or leave a feature depending on the budget.Such a tool is a benefit for both the development team as well as the stakeholders.
Quick FPA is a unique innovation in this sphere. Take a trial of the software and decide for yourself.
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