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Reasons for software effort estimation error: impact of respondent role, information collection approach, and data analysis method

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2 Author(s)
M. Jorgensen ; Simula Res. Lab., Lysaker, Norway ; K. Molokken-Ostvold

This study aims to improve analyses of why errors occur in software effort estimation. Within one software development company, we collected information about estimation errors through: 1) interviews with employees in different roles who are responsible for estimation, 2) estimation experience reports from 68 completed projects, and 3) statistical analysis of relations between characteristics of the 68 completed projects and estimation error. We found that the role of the respondents, the data collection approach, and the type of analysis had an important impact on the reasons given for estimation error. We found, for example, a strong tendency to perceive factors outside the respondents' own control as important reasons for inaccurate estimates. Reasons given for accurate estimates, on the other hand, typically cited factors that were within the respondents' own control and were determined by the estimators' skill or experience. This bias in types of reason means that the collection only of project managers' viewpoints will not yield balanced models of reasons for estimation error. Unfortunately, previous studies on reasons for estimation error have tended to collect information from project managers only. We recommend that software companies combine estimation error information from in-depth interviews with stakeholders in all relevant roles, estimation experience reports, and results from statistical analyses of project characteristics

Published in:

IEEE Transactions on Software Engineering  (Volume:30 ,  Issue: 12 )