I was running a workshop on estimation recently. One of things we discussed was how much time people effectively spend on working on tasks which are assigned to them. How much time do they spend creating value?
Let’s take average software developers. What do they do? They code. But not all the time. They probably have some kind of warm up when they come to work. Then standup. And a couple of coffees. A meeting here and a meeting there. Handful of emails requiring attention or answer. A foosball match to break monotony of a day. A bunch of people asking about something either coming to a desk, or pinging through instant messengers. A couple of phone calls.
And don’t forget that each time after we lose focus we need time to recover. We need time to find out where we were and what exactly we were doing.
So again, how much time do we spend effectively creating value?
And another question: when we are estimating, what kind of effectiveness do we assume? Naive, but pretty common, approach is 100% even though we actually know it isn’t even close to such value.
Then, we are surprised that a project was underestimated. Again. What a shame. We didn’t see that coming.
Because we don’t learn. We don’t even try. Actually this is data we can gather pretty easily. Why don’t we do that then?
Yes, I pretty much expect the results would be surprising for many. And yes, I’m sure it would help you to make your estimates better. Not that I think that estimation itself is crucially needed, but that’s completely different story…