Thursday, October 1, 2009

Eliminate the Grisly Problems of Project Estimation

See how a code generator can help reduce the headaches of Project Estimation and Planning.

The Project Manager’s job is to produce a project estimate, the most complicated step of any project. Project estimation forces project managers to deal with the unknown, making estimation difficult. Merely guessing off intuition is not the best solution. Many managers purchase costly project estimation software. Alternatively, managers can use a horde of programmers to create a prototype application to gauge the difficulty of the project. None of these choices are cost or time effective.

However, there is a much more elegant solution to this problem. Code generators can quickly and easily create an application prototype. Have your software architect construct a database according to the project requirements. Point the code generator to your database, and in minutes you will have a complete prototype of your application. It is much easier to estimate a project using a physical, usable example.

Suppose you were put in charge of a project to create a help desk web application. Your company’s business has grown too large, and your fellow co-workers are drowning in technical issues. As the project manager, you have to create an estimation of how long the project will take. You would need to create a system that manages information such as: problem history, priority levels, equipment, support staff, and problem resolutions. This would be a large and difficult undertaking, and you need a way to gauge the level of work necessary to complete it. Using a code generator, you can merely point it to the database created by your software architect based on current version of project requirements, and in minutes, you have a working prototype. You can now figure out exactly how much time and resources you will need to build your help desk.

This allows you to provide near instantaneous feedback to project stakeholders. The stakeholders can view the prototype to validate requirements, and to create new ones. New requirements will call for a revision of your estimate, and you can use the code generator again and again until the definitive requirements have taken shape.

Your development team may decide to completely scrap the generated code and built an application from scratch. It still had helped you in project estimation and saved time and money. Through the use of a code generator, project estimation became a much more efficient and cheaper process.

As an added bonus, some of the code may end up being useful and serve as a foundation, or become a part of the final product.

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