AuthorsM. Jørgensen
TitleA Review of Studies on Expert Estimation of Software Development Effort
Afilliation, Software Engineering
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2004
JournalJournal of Systems and Software

This paper provides an extensive review of studies related to expert estimation of software development effort. The main goal and contribution of the review is to support the research on expert estimation, e.g., to ease other researcher's search for relevant expert estimation studies. In addition, we provide software practitioners with useful estimation guidelines, based on the research-based knowledge of expert estimation processes. The review results suggest that expert estimation is the most frequently applied estimation strategy for software projects, that there is no substantial evidence in favour of use of estimation models, and that there are situations where we can expect expert estimates to be more accurate than formal estimation models. The following twelve expert estimation “best practice” guidelines are evaluated through the review: 1) Evaluate estimation accuracy, but avoid high evaluation pressure, 2) Avoid conflicting estimation goals, 3) Ask the estimators to justify and criticize their estimates, 4) Avoid irrelevant and unreliable estimation information, 5) Use documented data from previous development tasks, 6) Find estimation experts with relevant domain background and good estimation records, 7) Estimate top-down and bottom-up, independently of each other, 8) Use estimation checklists, 9) Combine estimates from different experts and estimation strategies, 10) Assess the uncertainty of the estimate, 11) Provide feedback on estimation accuracy and development task relations, and, 12) Provide estimation training opportunities. We found supporting evidence for all twelve estimation principles, and provide suggestions on how to implement them in software organizations.

Citation KeySE.4.Joergensen.2004.c