I recently found myself in yet another circular Twitter discussion of estimation, in which the One True Way to scope work in uncertainty ranged from entirely abandoning estimation to applying formal Cost Accounting methods and nothing less would suffice. I’ve talked about this at length and I will happily excise any comments that get into #noestimates.
Experienced delivery folks can have surprisingly good instincts for macro-level estimation, as long as we are careful to manage blind spots and cognitive biases. This can be an important tool in early project investment discussions, and can remove roadblocks where people are uncomfortable or unwilling to provide estimates.
The goal of software delivery is to minimise the lead time to business impact. Everything else is detail.
Business people want estimates. They want to know how much it’s going to cost them to get a solution, and they want to know how likely it is to come in on time and on budget. And of course quality is not negotiable.