Quote of the Month May 2022 – Time Estimates

No, engineers don’t suck at time estimates – and generally speaking humans are better estimators than what most people believe. This seems rather surprising given all we’ve heard about the problems of bad time estimations, projects going overboard, etc and of course, your personal experience with software time estimates. But if people are really bad at estimation, how does that fit with our obvious evolutionary need to make quick decisions based on partial data? if we can’t estimate well how did we decide if a gap is wide enough to jump over, if an animal is worth the hunt, if a certain area is more likely to have water and shade? Without estimation skills we wouldn’t survive. So what’s going on?

One obvious explanation is that we are only good at estimating physical things such as sizes and distances. However, this does not seem likely given the large number of non-physical decisions we needed to make, like selecting a mate. Another, more likely explanation is that the estimates are good, but the interpretation and usage of the estimates is flawed. In other (slightly cynical) words: the engineers are good at estimating, it’s the project managers who suck at using the estimates.

Source: No, engineers don’t suck at time estimates, Avishai Ish-Shalom, https://blog.nukemberg.com/post/no-engineers-dont-suck-at-estimates/

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