I Can Write This Blog Post in 30 Minutes

Well 30 minutes was my initial estimate. As an iOS app developer at T2, I reserve the right to refine that estimate as I continue writing and it becomes apparent that my estimate is diverging from reality. And I think that I speak for software developers everywhere when I say that developing estimates is the highlight of my job. If we didn’t spend significant time estimating, all of our time and effort would be squandered on actually producing apps and software.

So, back to my estimate for this blog – I think my 30 minutes are already up. But now I have some real data to extrapolate from. The editors suggest that this blog be 400 words, and right about NOW I am writing my 125th word and it took me 41 minutes to get this far. I’ll leave the math to the reader to do on their own, but my new estimate for completing this blog is now 131.2 minutes. (Notice the technique of using unwarranted decimal precision to give the illusion of well-calculated estimates.)

Extrapolation of some ilk is a reliable way to arrive at a plausible estimate (and that’s a noble goal in just about any endeavor…strive for plausibility). Simply recall your effort on a similar project, multiply by a calculated, or contrived, difficulty factor and there’s your estimate. BTW, my estimate for this blog has now ballooned to 174.3 minutes.

Now we could continue and apply several other factors to arrive at increasingly accurate estimates. But estimation accuracy has its limits, which I attribute to a derivative of the Heisenberg uncertainty principle from physics. My interpretation of this principle states that you can’t estimate the effort required for a software project with increasing accuracy without adversely affecting the time available to complete the project. To illustrate, my effort on this blog is now up to 204.7 minutes, a significant portion of which can be attributed to the extra time spent on estimating this very effort!

I have many more tips I could share for the few who might have read this far (thanks Mom). But I am nearly out of my allotted word count. So if you are interested in more of my estimating tips, I encourage you to get a copy of the book I am working on. I estimate it will be available online and in bookstores in time for the holidays….in 2021.

Brian Doherty is a Program Manager at the National Center for Telehealth & Technology (T2) where he coordinates the efforts of a team of software developers and graphic artists.  Brian leverages an extensive background in software development with Fortune 500 companies to develop iOS apps supporting the military community.

The views expressed are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of the National Center for Telehealth & Technology, the Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health & Traumatic Brain Injury, the Department of Defense, or the U.S. Government.


Read other posts by Mr. Brian Doherty