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Software is Like Building a House


Software is Like Building a House

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Steve Jones
Steve Jones
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Comments posted to this topic are about the item Software is Like Building a House

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I guess getting up and going to work shouldn't take longer than expected. Or else the boss would consider termination of employment for being late.



Simon Munro-308389
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Sorry Steve, I can't relate to how 'shovelling manure' takes longer than expected - thankfully. Or warming up the tractor, artificially inseminating a cow, or similar farming-related tasks. Smile
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Imagine doing the task with the wrong / outdated tools and base your estimate on that. e.g How long would it take to build the fort using only a hand saw and screw driver. (50 cuts at 5 minutes each, 200 screws at 1 minute each etc). Now build it with power tools and you have plenty of time to deal with the stuff you didn't plan for etc.

For an ETL project you could think in terms of Sql 2000 dts and then build it with SSIS
Malcolm Leach
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I think it's because most of us are basically optimists and when we estimate something we always subconsciously think of everything going right. If we really made ourselves think of everything that could go wrong our estimates might increases several hundred percent.







And therein lies the real problem - our managers are mostly optimists too.







Therefore, if we give an estimate with all the potential bad stuff factored in it would be in stark contrast to the timescale they imagine (or have been given by another optimist further up the food chain - especially bad if that person happens to work in marketing) This leads on to some heavy negotiation as you try and come to some middle ground so that your manager doesn't look bad when he presents it to his boss...







...and you're left with the sneaking suspicion that your manager now thinks you've "lost your edge" so next time you're more lilely to be more optimistic than pessimistic.







I think that's just one of the ironies of life - we want things to happen with no hiccups and yet they rarely do, but we still hope they will.

Malcolm
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P Jones
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One of the classic side effects of dyslexia is a poor sense of time and my other half is quite dyslexic, so much so that he's nicknamed "late" Lavelle!

If he says he will be an hour it is invariably two real hours and even when we are into the last minute of the countdown before a dinghy race start he thinks he has enough time to travel further so we always seem to end up starting late!

Now when he estimates a time we say "Is that real time or Sandy time??" but nothing ever takes less time than an estimate!
Jurriaan Themmen
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Strangely enough, it rarely takes me longer than planned to travel somewhere. Even before the era of travel planners, I always managed to estimate a good ratio between distance and average speed, allowing for traffic. When I was in the army, we worked with routing/timing tables during manouvers. Has to bring back some memories for you too, Steve Smile Those figures must have come from years of experience. I made it good practice to make notice of my experiences in travelling for future reference.



In project planning, I find that it helps to make for good planning when calculating back from a deadline, hard deadlines giving better results than soft ones. It forces you to really carefully analyze all the different tasks that need to be completed for the result as well as prioritizing and sorting them. It will soon tell you how much time you have for the different stages and as such, it helps the people you're working with estimating up front if they can handle things in the amount of time given.
Michael Lysons
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Basically, we're just rubbish at this estimating lark.



I also find that when estimating something incorrectly but in the positive way, i.e. you think you'll end up finishing sooner, that I always manage to fill the extra time anyway. Although, that's a good thing, because the extra time and care makes for a better end result.
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Unashamedly pinched from I can't remember where...



If Architects Had To Work Like Software Designers...

Dear Mr. Architect:

Please design and build me a house. I am not quite sure of what I need, so you should use your discretion. My house should have somewhere between two and forty-five bedrooms. Just make sure the plans are such that the bedrooms can be easily added or deleted. When you bring the blueprints to me, I will make the final decision of what I want. Also, bring me the cost breakdown for each configuration so that I can arbitrarily pick one.

Keep in mind that the house I ultimately choose must cost less than the one I am currently living in. Make sure, however, that you correct all the deficiencies that exist in my current house (the floor of my kitchen vibrates when I walk across it, and the walls don't have nearly enough insulation in them).

As you design, also keep in mind that I want to keep yearly maintenance costs as low as possible. This should mean the incorporation of extra-cost features like aluminum, vinyl, or composite siding. (If you choose not to specify aluminum, be prepared to explain your decision in detail.)

Please take care that modern design practices and the latest materials are used in construction of the house, as I want it to be a showplace for the most up-to-date ideas and methods. Be alerted, however, that kitchen should be designed to accommodate, among other things, my 1952 Gibson refrigerator.

To insure that you are building the correct house for our entire family, make certain that you contact each of our children, and also our in-laws. My mother-in-law will have very strong feelings about how the house should be designed, since she visits us at least once a year. Make sure that you weigh all of these options carefully and come to the right decision. I, however, retain the right to overrule any choices that you make.

Please don't bother me with small details right now. Your job is to develop the overall plans for the house: get the big picture. At this time, for example, it is not appropriate to be choosing the color of the carpet. However, keep in mind that my wife likes blue.

Also, do not worry at this time about acquiring the resources to build the house itself. Your first priority is to develop detailed plans and specifications. Once I approve these plans, however, I would expect the house to be under roof within 48 hours.

While you are designing this house specifically for me, keep in mind that sooner or later I will have to sell it to someone else. It therefore should have appeal to a wide variety of potential buyers. Please make sure before you finalize the plans that there is a consensus of the population in my area that they like the features this house has. I advise you to run up and look at my neighbor's house he constructed last year. We like it a great deal. It has many features that we would also like in our new home, particularly the 75-foot swimming pool. With careful engineering, I believe that you can design this into our new house without impacting the final cost.

Please prepare a complete set of blueprints. It is not necessary at this time to do the real design, since they will be used only for construction bids. Be advised, however, that you will be held accountable for any increase of construction costs as a result of later design changes.

You must be thrilled to be working on as an interesting project as this! To be able to use the latest techniques and materials and to be given such freedom in your designs is something that can't happen very often. Contact me as soon as possible with your complete ideas and plans.



PS: My wife has just told me that she disagrees with many of the instructions I've given you in this letter. As architect, it is your responsibility to resolve these differences. I have tried in the past and have been unable to accomplish this. If you can't handle this responsibility, I will have to find another architect.

PPS: Perhaps what I need is not a house at all, but a travel trailer. Please advise me as soon as possible if this is the case..





Mark



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