The success of a development project depends on the planning approach. How much emphasis has been utilized on software development time estimation? Deciding on a timeline is a challenging task. Many factors get influenced while determining a specific time period. If you aspire to grasp on how to estimate software development time check out the complete planning approach.
What is the time estimation for software development?
Software development time estimation approximates a time period calculated to complete all the tasks. Tasks compromising various sets of activities required to implement in the development of a product.
The whole estimation of the task varies on different levels of elements. This includes the complexity of the project, the number of workforces required, the overall experience of the team, and the accessibility of the resources.
Why do we need a software development time estimation?
An overview helps us to be prepared with the number of resources required for the completion of a project. Every business needs a time estimation on projects to ensure maximum utilization.
Now let’s discuss what happens if there’s no ‘out road’ map for the project. Project failure due to any reason, unable to meet the deadline, exhaustion of resources because of not having an idea on how much time should be allotted for a task.
Incompletion of the project due to a less experienced team. The reasons could be numerous, but the conclusion remains definitive, failure in software development projects.
According to data, 25% of the projects fail due to faulty time estimation.
The planning stage and beyond can benefit greatly from accurate software estimations. They make it possible to calculate the amount of work that will actually be needed for a certain project phase.
The software estimation prepares the total number of hours required to complete a project. The following points highlight the importance of software development time estimation:
- A timeline to complete all the tasks in a given dedicated time slot.
- Being prepared for almost all the expected uncertainties.
- To be prepared with the team on how to deal with upcoming challenges in strategic ways.
- Producing a technical task sheet to achieve the timeline product goal.
- To efficiently manage the specified cost and resources and avoid over or under-utilization.
Why is it difficult to make an estimation for software development?
It is a challenging task to make an estimation for a project. The software development process requires multiple sets of skills.
Compiling all resources and deciding on much time utilization is required for each resource makes the steps complicated. You can’t prepare an absolute plan. There are uncertainties always revolving around time estimation.
Time estimation for a project is barely a prediction of when and how one foresees the completion of any project.
Anyone from the team can fall sick or can face some obstacles personal or technical. There could be miscommunication along the way among teammates.
All the above-mentioned scenarios are not negative omens but actual possibilities. It might hamper your timeline of the project.
By far the possibilities we discussed state the unforeseen factors. Then now comes the factors relating to the team and their efficiency. If the team is skilled and with years of experience, they will be able to complete the project on time.
There are possibilities of some minor issues or delays but the chances of completing the project on time are high. Then there is the availability of resources, which plays a huge role in accelerating or slowing down the whole project.
Apart from this, irrespective of all the right elements there might be still some active errors. Some technical glitches might hinder your project’s speed. Now with numerous factors, it is immensely challenging to prepare an estimation.
Only a proper time estimation can be prepared with several years of experience managing project timelines. Or by analysing all the important factors which are mandatory to finalize a proper time estimation window.
Possible risks are difficult to predict, also there are many time-consuming elements. Hence, software development estimation is the total number of hours required to complete a project. While keeping all the possible threats and time delays into consideration.
After having a clear understanding of software development time estimation. Let us identify why it is a challenge to fix an absolute timeline:
Variation over time of the project:
When the development project commences, many factors are first dealt with. For example, the identification of the product type is important. It helps to estimate the time. Whether the software requires a few basic layouts. Or is it much more complex software?
Another major component is the size. The size of the desired application also impacts the time period. It is quite obvious that preparing several pages demands more time. And basic size software might take less time.
Taking into consideration all the possibilities one can have a pretty clear ideation about software delivery.
The demand for the product or product requires time estimation will keep changing. It is very restrictive to keep a definitive vision because over the course of the projects you may explore different possibilities. And for the same, you may want to switch your requirements.
The environment or circumstances may also change depending on the project. The timeline or cost might keep changing during the whole process. Yet it is better to have a structural vision of the whole process to have some idea.
Identifying the complexity of the software
Complexity is a variable while prepping up for building software. From incorporating the features to working on each different type of functionality the complete time period changes. The programming time may increase or even might decrease depending on the complexity of the software.
Now there has been an extensive study conducted on several software development processes. These studies were to examine a general time estimation for developing a project. Based on this study the following analogy was the outcome.
A basic functionality requires a minimum amount of estimation of three to six months. While if a project is considered to be of average complexity, then around five to nine months.
And last if a complex build is expected then, it might take up to eight or even more months to complete the development process of the software.
It is important to note that programmers may require third-party code if the project demands it. To conclude, all these factors influence the overall development time of a software development time estimation.
Switching existing data
Sometimes during the development process of software, you might have to switch humungous amounts of data. The data to be moved is generally switched from one platform to another.
Now the original script has to be compatible according to the new software, only then it can use the information.
When script creation is done, it is a time-consuming process, and a set of rules must be followed while prepping a new script. The formation of an actual script is a time taking process.
One of the most influencing factors for users while choosing any service is the UI. The uniqueness appeals to consumers. Now you cannot come up with an attractive UX overnight! It demands tons of research, competitor analysis, and much more to decide on which design to finalize.
When we mention UI / UX we have to finalize the logo designs, graphics, interaction designs, icons, and much more.
The more elements, the harder work, also if custom illustration or animation is also used then the whole process of development extends. Detailing demands time, and design is one of such crucial elements which one must not haste.
Integrating the software in development with an existing system is quite pervasive. This particular process might be smooth and quick, or it may take quite a time. It depends on the whole difficulty level. For example, it is usually an easy task to incorporate payment gateways into a development process.
It is more often a complex task, and while being in the process one can depict the difficulty level of the project. That is why the inclusion of an external system varies the time estimation of software.
Also, read: Top 10 Help Desk Software for Small Business
How to Estimate Software Development time?
We’ve compiled the most common methods used to estimate time for software development:
Using existing data
It can be beneficial to look at comparable projects that the business has recently finished. To develop your future estimates, you should never rely solely on this. Keep in mind that every project is different, and this determines how long it takes to complete them.
You can research existing projects and adjust account for variances instead of taking previous projects as your basis to estimate software development time. You may, for instance, utilize the time needed to finish a project with a comparable scale or one that makes use of comparable technology.
With this strategy, each specific effort involved in the entire development process is fully worked out, and the time required to accomplish each stage is estimated. When applied correctly, this technique can be immensely effective. It can, nevertheless, take a lot of time.
A wholesome estimation
In comparison, the upper method begins by estimating the overall amount of time needed for the project before breaking it down into more manageable portions.
The invariable estimation entails applying statistical techniques to precisely estimate the amount of time needed for software engineering.
Software engineers must consider following this estimating approach to provide accurate time estimates for your current project by using data from earlier parallel projects.
For each task, a three-point estimation uses three projections: the most likely estimate, the most optimistic estimate, and the most pessimistic estimate. The average of the three estimations used is then used to generate the final estimate.
Analyzation in function points
Making an estimate for the entire project based on the software’s capability is known as “function point analysis.” Its development takes longer therefore more features it has.
This is due to the fact that larger projects demand more developer integrations. Because mobile applications require more time to develop than standard web platforms, the type of output that is expected from you is also important. All of this contributes to an increase in the project’s expected completion time.
Agile programs benefit greatly from the use of function point analyses. When working on agile projects, you should concentrate more on the necessary efforts than on estimating the necessary time.
The most popular method for accomplishing Agile methodologies is through using user stories for each project phase. The entire estimation software development process goes as follows:
- A feature is described, or a user story is presented to developers by the product owner.
- Estimators debate the feature and query the Product Owner.
- Following the conversation, each developer chooses a card to serve as an estimate for the feature.
The cards are shown. The figure chosen by all estimators becomes the estimate if they all selected the same cards. If there are any discrepancies, they are discussed, and the vote is cast again and again until no estimator is able to choose the same value to represent the feature.
It’s crucial to note that all judgments are reached through discussion and consensus rather than by averaging all the numbers in the first round.
Also, read: Agile project management for Agile Delivery
Steps to Estimate Software Development Time Correctly
The following steps can be used to generate accurate software development estimations:
Step 1 – Defining the Project
Defining the project’s scope is the first step in determining the time required for software development. Obtain all the information and details you require to better understand the project’s requirements, the client’s expectations, and the deliverables which you and your company are expected to produce.
Try to understand the client’s main concepts. Talk about details like wireframes, mock-ups, rival or similar websites, technical documentation, personal choices, and other high-level requirements. Discuss both functional and non-functional requirements as they clarify their vision for the software.
You can compare your current work with previous firm projects by visiting their websites. Examine and contrast their data-driven projections to see if there are any resemblances.
In addition to being able to generate baseline estimates through analysis, you can also pinpoint elements and actions that may endanger a project. This happens if there is a discrepancy between anticipated and real-time invested.
Step 2: Prepare your task list
When the task’s scope is apparent, you can divide it up into smaller jobs. To see every step of the software development process and the tasks involved in it, utilize a work breakdown structure.
In order to save time on output revision, create a checklist of all the features and capabilities indicated by the customer.
Step 3: Decide for the execution team
Being a software developer can help you complete this phase more successfully. If you’re not, however, you can ask a professional at the business for assistance. Examine all of the project-related information you have.
Consider every element, then develop a framework with a time and effort estimate for everything your team is about to undertake.
Evaluate this phase of the project’s development. Estimate the number of hours required for each task and record them, as you’ll need them for the following step.
Step 4: Team discussions are essential
Estimating the length of time, it will take to develop software requires a committed team to support you. In a collaborative project, you have the privilege to be updated with accurate time estimates.
Discuss the information you have learned from the earlier phases to start. Ask them to weigh in once you’ve gone through every aspect. Ineffective team member communication will be resolved by this action. Additionally, promoting the diversity.
Create a narrative arc or a series of events to follow together. Sort out all of your tasks so you can clearly see what needs to be prioritized.
Choose a technology stack to use. The strength and utility of a house are greatly impacted by the materials used in its construction. The same is true for the kinds of technologies you employ and combine while producing software.
This is referred to as a technological stack, and it greatly affects how successful your output will be. Determine out how long it might take your team to complete the programme with each of the possibilities you have identified, and then identify all the options you have.
To properly choose your IT platform, define your goals. Think about whether your project will be a web platform, a mobile application, or a cross-platform solution. Then, do an investigation to discover the software that your competitors are utilizing in situations similar to yours. Find out why they do this and what results they eventually get.
After evaluating each team member, assign them tasks that are appropriate for their skills. Or, even better, ask them to take on certain duties and set a deadline together.
Step – 5: Set up an estimation
Discussing with your client the project schedule seems to be the next logical step. To be prepared for any unanticipated occurrences, remember to add a risk buffer of 5% to 25% to the entire project time before moving forward.
To account for other factors that can consume time, such as team meetings, communication breakdowns, productivity slumps, and several other situations, add 20% to the project’s estimated completion time.
It is best to think about the risks involved in software development before beginning because system failures, integration problems, and other unforeseen issues may occur. Keep track of anything that inclines to cause the project to run over budget or to be delayed.
What to consider while estimating Software development?
Different factors affect the estimation time of the project. Let’s discuss each in detail to gain a better understanding:
Changes are inevitable
During the course of software development, there will be many changes. While the work modulates the timeline will automatically follow.
To alter pre-implied features and add new ones is a challenge to complete within the decided time frame. Keep in mind that any flow task that modifies its path of action will take a longer time. And the estimation differs in such phases of software development.
Additional changes alter the timeline of the project’s time and overall budget. It depends on the extensiveness of the changes. Such as tools, a requirement to search for custom solutions, and third-party APIs.
This is one of the most impacting factors. If your development team has years of expertise, then there’s a high possibility the project be completed in a set period. On the contrary, if a team hasn’t worked on many projects, then there are chances your estimation will extend.
Hence, it is important to choose an experienced software development company. The right choice will ensure timely success for you without additional cost. Also, the quality of the software always remains intact.
Software Development Time Estimation by Cynoteck
With years of expertise and excellence, Cynoteck has accomplished various projects in multiple domains. While commencing your journey, Cynoteck can help you get a quick assessment. With high-quality service, you can achieve valuable results.
With a strong & unified work model and an oriented team, you can start and end your project on time. We have a dedicated team of experts to resolve any project consultation till the issue has been resolved.
To be able to deliver a project on time and to achieve all the set targets over the course of a project is not an easy journey. But we at Cynoteck with numerous project completions are pleased to share that we can help you achieve your desired vision.
We’re committed to delivering projects within time estimation and inclusive in the budget range. You can visit us connect us to know more.
For the project to be successful, a precise estimation of the time required for software development is crucial. You can be sure that your estimate is realistic and that it will help your software development project stay on schedule by using the steps indicated above.
Remember that business needs should always come first when assessing the length of a software development project. You can build the proper estimations on the knowledge of the features, preferences, and capabilities the client wants you to include in your output.
Following these recommendations can help you avoid the time, and money hassles that changes may cause in the future. If there is a profitable market opportunity within a limited time frame, you can always seek ways to streamline your current tasks. Utilize pre-made software components or outsource some of the work to a reliable outsourcing partner.
FAQ’s on Software Development time Estimation
In the project planning phase, time estimation is especially crucial. It guards against delays that can cause cost overruns and unfavourable impressions among stakeholders, risking the project’s capacity to be finished altogether in the long run.
Yes, the product backlog is used to estimate development effort. It is an inventory of project deliverables. You can estimate the amount of work needed to finish with the help of this. As a result, it is simple to estimate the overall development effort.
There are multiple approaches to calculating the whole-time estimation for the project. You can go through the above-mentioned multiple approaches and factors.
Agile project management is a non-linear, incremental method of managing projects. Everywhere in the project life cycle, it focuses on dividing huge projects into smaller, more achievable tasks that are finished in brief iterations.
The paperwork and tedious tasks are eliminated by construction estimation software. Delivery schedules and cost estimations can be done more quickly. You complete your project quickly as a result of this.
Are you looking for a reliable software development company? Our highly skilled software developers enables us to deliver result oriented software development services. Contact our team to understand, how we can help you in achieving your business goals.