Exploring the human and organizational aspects of software cost estimation
Paper i proceeding, 2010
Cost estimation is important for planning, scheduling, budgeting and pricing of software development. Previous research has mainly focused on improving estimates and the associated processes. However, there is still a lack of research on human and organizational aspects of cost estimation and informal uses of cost estimates. This paper presents initial findings from a qualitative study addressing these questions. Based on four semi-structured interviews with experienced managers from different software developing organizations we have identified a number of aspects not commonly discussed in the cost estimation literature. The analysis indicates that cost estimates are used not only for prediction and planning, but also play a role in power plays within the organizations based on the stakeholders' differing interests. There are also human and organizational factors that are likely to influence the quality of estimates. We also suggest a basic taxonomy of attributes that could be used to structure the many issues involved in and affecting software cost estimation. We conclude that there are many factors that affect software cost estimation and need to be considered in future research. Longer-term this is important not only for cost estimation but can also be useful to understand how human and organizational factors affect software development processes in general.