Technical writing/Cost and schedule estimating

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All projects cost time and money.

It is important to accurately estimate how much a project will cost.

Most projects are late and more expensive than planned.

Cost and Schedule Estimates for Documentation[edit]

According to a study on Estimating Software Costs, documentation accounts for 10% of the total cost of a project.

Automated Estimating Systems[edit]

The use of automated estimating tools can greatly improve the accuracy of cost and schedule estimates, when compared to their human equivalents.

In most projects with a Function Point score of more than 10,000 the costs of documentation and defect removal are greater than that of creating the project itself.

Function Point[edit]

Devised in the 1970s, function points are used to assess the amount of functionality available to an end user from an information system.

There are 5 types of function points:

  • Outputs
  • Inquiries
  • Inputs
  • Files
  • Interfaces

Function Point Analysis is the amount of functionality which is relevant to and recognized by the user. As a rough estimate, there are 1000 Function Points per 125,000 lines of code.

Common Functions of Automated Estimating Tools[edit]

  • Estimate time and cost at phase, activity and task level
  • Make adjustments for work periods, holidays and overtime
  • Consider local salaries and workload
  • Adjust for project type
  • Support Function Point, LOC metrics or both
  • Handle conversions between Function Point and LOC
  • Support new projects as well as maintenance and upgrade projects

Advanced Functions[edit]

  • Estimates quality and reliability
  • Analyses risk and value
  • Estimates return on investment
  • Shares data with other project management tools
  • Assesses historical data according to measurement models
  • Supports process assessments
  • Provides statistical analysis for multiple projects
  • Currency conversion for international projects

Variable Factors[edit]

As all projects are different, there are factors which change according to the project. A good automated estimating system will take these variables into account.

  • Staff experience
  • Client expectations
  • Product type being developed
  • Size of deliverables
  • Project size
  • Design method used
  • Requirements method used
  • Available re-usable materials
  • Testing methods used
  • Overtime status - paid/unpaid

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