Buying time in software development: How estimates become commitments?

Patricia G.F. Matsubara, Igor Steinmacher, Bruno Gadelha, Tayana Uchoa Conte

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

Despite years of research for improving accuracy, software practitioners still face software estimation difficulties. Expert judgment has been the prevalent method used in industry, and researchers' focus on raising realism in estimates when using it seems not to be enough for the much-expected improvements. Instead of focusing on the estimation process's technicalities, we investigated the interaction of the establishment of commitments with customers and software estimation. By observing estimation sessions and interviewing software professionals from companies in varying contexts, we found that defensible estimates and padding of software estimates are crucial in converting estimates into commitments. Our findings show that software professionals use padding for three different reasons: contingency buffer, completing other tasks, or improving the overall quality of the product. The reasons to pad have a common theme: buying time to balance short-and long-Term software development commitments, including the repayment of technical debt. Such a theme emerged from the human aspects of the interaction of estimation and the establishment of commitments: pressures and customers' conflicting short and longterm needs play silent and unrevealed roles in-between the technical activities. Therefore, our study contributes to untangling the underlying phenomena, showing how the practices used by software practitioners help to deal with the human and social context in which estimation is embedded.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationProceedings - 2021 IEEE/ACM 13th International Workshop on Cooperative and Human Aspects of Software Engineering, CHASE 2021
PublisherInstitute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc.
Pages61-70
Number of pages10
ISBN (Electronic)9781665414098
DOIs
StatePublished - May 2021
Externally publishedYes
Event13th IEEE/ACM International Workshop on Cooperative and Human Aspects of Software Engineering, CHASE 2021 - Virtual, Online
Duration: May 20 2021May 21 2021

Publication series

NameProceedings - 2021 IEEE/ACM 13th International Workshop on Cooperative and Human Aspects of Software Engineering, CHASE 2021

Conference

Conference13th IEEE/ACM International Workshop on Cooperative and Human Aspects of Software Engineering, CHASE 2021
CityVirtual, Online
Period5/20/215/21/21

Keywords

  • Expert Judgment
  • Padding
  • Software Estimation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management
  • Communication

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