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Why Estimates Fail ?

When I want to paint a wall and I have hired a painter, the first question I want to ask the painter is about estimates in Time & Cost. Because that is a parameter which makes me to either dive into the project or not. I want to be certain about the cost and time I will have to bear.
I consider that as a part of human curiosity and I have given myself a good excuse to ask such question. Same curiosity applies to any industry including our lovely software industry or IT industry in general.
As an investor I want to know when I will be able to deliver the product to my end users or customers.

Why Estimates Fail?

19% due to tools,
37% related to process issues, and
44% related to behaviour issues.

Nolan of Rolls Royce and published by INCOSE

At least we have established that estimates are helpful when it comes to knowing the Time & Cost. After all I don’t want to pay a lot and see my painted wall after waiting for long time.

We know that at least 90% of our Estimates always fail.

How do we better estimate or lets say no estimates 😊
Estimates are prone to failure and it should only be considered as a reference point but we cannot say that is a hardline to deliver a value to customer. Our customer does not care if I spent the whole day fixing a bug. The important thing is whether they can run a system bug free at the end of the day that matters.
Doing agile , lean are great however if we are forgetting the core of why we do agile in the first place then there is something wrong.

Customer Collaboration Over Contract Negotiation.

Agile Manifesto


  • Glen ALLEMAN
    December 13, 2017

    Just a thought on the Agile Manifesto line.
    Where do you work where a “contract” for the delivery of services in exchange for payment for those services is not present in some form. You sign a contract, when you sign your credit card receipt. You engage in a contract when you buy an airline ticket. When you hire a catering company for the company Christmas party, you engage in a contract. When you sell your software (assume you’re a vendor) the buyer and the seller engage in a contract for the exchange of money for the license to use the software as defined in the contract.
    The agile manifesto lines are symptoms of Bad Management. Bad Contract Management, Bad Documentation Management, bad planning and execution of work management, Bad change control management.
    The 12 principles of Agile are a better place to start, but those principles are not universally applicable.
    Any credible business process starts with a Governance Framework and Governance is about decisions rights. Rarely if ever do those “spending the money” get to say how those “providing the money” get to run the business.
    Estimates fail for many reasons, Nolan’s reasons are way too simple. INCOSE, ICEAA, CPM, NDIA, and many other professional organizations have conducted Root Cause Analysis of why estimates and the related projects fail.
    More information available if you’re interested in the actual reasons. Be more than happy to provide that.


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