Estimate broad categories of work such as ‘api’, and ‘site
Avoid estimating features and focus on estimating business goals
and requirements such as ‘can buy a product’ vs ‘integrate with
stripe’, or ‘ability to download movies’ vs ‘ability to click a red
button and download a movie if no other movie is in the queue which
is displayed in a widget in the upper right corner.’
Keep estimates to one page, or even one paragraph with bullet
points. If it doesn’t fit on a page it’s likely the project will
cost > 100k and you’ll want help, a white board, and 1/2 day to
make the estimate. Never do these kind for free.
Ask for an internal review of your estimate by one team member.
Work in teams to estimate large projects.
Consider collateral work. For instance: a logo implies a favicon
and an apple-home-screen icon, a production deploy implies a staging
deploy, monitoring, and database backups… think from the client
perspective about everything they will need to do to be live
including DNS procurement, password management, account setup, etc.
Consider the personality of the client. How much communication
do they need? How much detail in tickets/invoices/etc? If they will
be involved multiply by about 200%, if they want to help 300%.
Time box your effort estimating. 15 minutes is good. 1 hour is
pushing it. Too many unknowns to do this suggests a paid exploration
period of 1-3 days in order to write code, research, and provide a
more accurate estimate. Alternatively give big ranges - ask for paid
exploration to narrow them.
Look for something small to start. If 15k of work is clear and
the remaining 85k is murky, suggest getting going tomorrow on the
clear discrete bit and returning to estimate the murky bit when more
it known. The client will still want a ballpark - but this can
Avoid talking about rates in estimates. Ideally we can charge
25k for completed project regardless of how many hours were spent
when that number was in the range estimated (this doesn’t happen
often but is possible).
Include a minimum and maximum number of hours we’ll work on the
project regardless of its completion. This protects us from
never-ending feature creep and the client by promising a minimum
effort level. To calculate this divide the highest cost you can
imagine by ~$100 (we are losing money) for the maximum and, for the
minimum, divide the lowest cost you can image by ~$200 (we are
Include a suggested start date and end date. Assuming the team
is working at 50% capacity to get this number. So if you think it’ll
take 2 people working 30 hrs/wk for one month suggest an end date 2
months after the start date.
Include an expiration date for the estimate. When a client comes
back 3 months later ready to start something any research done will
need to be repeated, now apis may exist, the product may have many
competitors where once it had none, our pipeline may be more full or
empty than it was when we originally made the estimate… all of
these things can cause a big change to an estimate.
Consider our pipeline. When it is empty, aim for smaller bits of
cheaper work. When it is full aim high.
Suggest staying on our current stacks. Moving to another
framework or deployment container always need considered.
State the problem you’ll be solving in the estimate. Are you
sure they understand what they are asking for?
Underestimate the importances of having access toallproduction content, apis, etcup front. Not having these
up front has the ability to make any estimate a wild ass guess from
the get go.
Underestimate the lag time legal can add to a possible start
date. This goes along with getting any contract signed ASAP.
Estimate specific details unless every single aspect of it is
known (it never is).
Underestimate authentication. If the project colors outside the
lines (we don’t already have it 100% programmed), it will cost at
least 2.5k to get right if it is a standard 3rd party (OAuth,
Google, etc.). If it’s custom it will absolutely consume a week
before the project is finished.
Underestimate deployment and delivery. A day is 1k. Even getting
a DNS entry setup and static files to a client takes time and
Underestimate integrations. An external api or dependency adds
an order of magnitude of difficulty because of communication,
bugs, blocking, and changes.
Underestimate the cost of duration and handoffs. A project that
stretches over long periods of time and has many handoffs incurs
lots of increased costs. For small projects (< 10k) expect this to
be a factor of about 100%.
I’ve reviewed your fucking vague Microsoft Word doc full of mutually
contradictory requirements docs and see the following:
Some sort of ability to turn this into books full of kittens.
We see the following next steps:
Getting your micro-site up is something we can start next Monday.
This could take 3-5 man days and cost ~3.5-4k.
The api integration with http://awesome-sauce.com will take a bit
of research since it’s currently in beta and the repo seems to be
under active development. We’d like to do a time-boxed assessment of
it now in order to fully understand the difficulty in integrating
with it in production, although we think this will take about 2
weeks, or < ~10k.
The book fulfillment is a really big project and we’re not prepared
to estimate it at this time without access to the fulfillment api
that is being built by
http://aint-going-to-happen-any-time-soon.com and without
reviewing at least three samples of complete book content – the
animated gif of the kitten isn’t cutting it… In any case, while it
is possible that this could cost 19 bucks, as you suggest, it also
may cost $999,999 bucks and we think it’s prudent to consider this
effort in another sprint.
Assuming we can start work next Monday, and no later than two weeks from
now, we’d be able to finish the microsite in 2 weeks and have a go/no-go
on the awesome-sauce API in that same time frame. assuming our research
on the API doesn’t reveal any blockers, we’d finish the integration 6
weeks from now.
Ignoring the book fulfillment you’ll be looking at:
~ 6 calendar weeks until launch
If this sounds good let us know asap and we’ll get this up in
concordnow.com where we can continue to make
Cheers - I’m sure you’ll rule the world with kitten books.