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Effective Strategies to Validate and Improve Developer Estimates

Learn how to ensure accurate developer estimates and enhance collaboration within your technical team. Discover practical approaches to validating estimates, including improving collaboration, asking critical questions, seeking commitment, considering impact, not solely relying on technical complexity, and performing estimate testing


In the world of software development, accurate estimates are crucial for effective planning and project success. However, it's not uncommon for developers to provide estimates that vary significantly, leading to challenges in delivery planning. To address this issue, it is essential for businesses to understand the factors influencing estimates and how to validate them effectively. This article presents five important practices to validate and improve estimates within your technical team.

Improve Collaboration with the Technical Team

Transparent collaboration is key to obtaining accurate estimates. Although diving into technical details might seem daunting for non-technical individuals, fostering transparency with the development team can yield better estimates aligned with your goals. For example, if you require a demo for an upcoming exhibition, communicating its significance to the team and seeking their recommendations will result in more accurate estimates.

Ask Awkward Questions

Asking the right questions can guide the development team in the right direction and uncover potential issues. Utilize questions starting with "What If," "How will we do it," or "Can we explore alternative approaches?" While it may be challenging for non-technical individuals initially, acquiring experience in asking critical questions will greatly benefit the estimation process.

Ask for Commitment

After receiving an estimate, ask the development team to commit to delivering what has been agreed upon. This cultivates a partnership mindset and promotes accountability. Additionally, seeking commitment allows for early identification of any potential delays or challenges, enabling timely course corrections.

Work with Impact

While timely delivery is important, it's equally crucial to consider the impact of a feature or task on the overall system. If a critical deadline looms but a large feature is still in progress, it might be more prudent to create a separate page or website for a demo rather than delaying the entire project. By minimizing the impact, future refactoring efforts can be avoided.

Do Not Solely Trust Technical Complexity

If the development team frequently cites technical complexity as a reason for extended estimates, it may indicate a resource issue. While some projects genuinely have high complexity, it is often the case that the team's expertise does not align perfectly with the project requirements. In such instances, consider augmenting the team with specialists who possess the necessary knowledge. This will help address challenges related to technical complexity

Test Estimates

Before committing to a large-scale feature, it is beneficial to test the team's ability to match estimates on smaller, more manageable tasks. By assigning simpler and short-term tasks, you can evaluate their accuracy in estimating effort and time. This validation process builds confidence and provides a reliable benchmark for future estimations.


By implementing these strategies, businesses can validate and improve developer estimates, resulting in better planning, enhanced collaboration, and successful project outcomes. Remember, effective estimation is a continuous learning process that requires open communication, active participation, and a shared understanding between the business and technical teams. In conclusion, accurate estimates are essential for efficient project management. By adopting practices such as improving collaboration, asking critical questions, seeking commitment, considering impact, addressing technical complexity, and conducting estimate testing, businesses can validate and enhance developer estimates. These strategies foster a stronger partnership between the business and technical teams, leading to improved planning and successful project delivery.

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