Do a million of them

I am at the tail end of work on the HP-EDS merger, which consisted mostly of being part of a team that decided how to consolidate IT assets that both companies had down into one in the combined company.  The deliverables for my part of it were a set of project estimates that are now in the process of being funded, which will then be staffed properly and executed over the next few financial quarters.  If you get the estimate wrong, the project doesn’t get the staffing it needs and either gets delivered late or with reduced scope.  No pressure though.

Like all forms of estimation, the key is to do it a lot so you can use past experience as a guide for future attempts.  In my series on Making Yourself Easy to be Scheduled there’s a whole article on this topic, which begins:

“A great high school math teacher once told his class, ‘I have the secret to doing word problems!’ Like most people, the students in the class had long experienced frustration with this type of math problem that attempts to relate real life circumstances to specific concepts through words instead of more straightforward equations. After a pause, several of the students eagerly asked, in unison, ‘How?’ The teacher grinned slyly and answered, ‘Do a million of them!’ He was understandably greeted with a collective groan.”

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