The Relationship between Planning Team Experience and Project Cost Estimates

J. McDonald (USA)


Project Management, Planning, Estimation


Common wisdom and analyses of actual project data have shown that more experienced software development teams typically develop software more efficiently and for lower costs than do less experienced teams. This paper presents findings derived from data that characterize a team's experiences in planning new software development projects. Specifically, a quantitative analysis of the results of a planning exercise in which 135 different project planning teams developed plans for the same software project indicates that, while more experienced teams may be able to develop software more efficiently for lower costs, planning teams with less experience produce estimates that require less time, resources and costs than do more experienced teams. These findings provide a strong warning that estimates produced by inexperienced software development teams are likely to be overly optimistic by as much as 50 to 100%. Qualitative reviews of the resulting project plans have revealed some of the reasons for these results.

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