Combining Soft Skills and Hard Tools for Better Software Estimates

Carol is President, Quality Plus Technologies Inc. She is an expert in software measurement, ISO/IEC standards, software estimation, process improvement and scope management. She is co-author of four books.

Anyone in the IT industry knows that software projects are the perfect combination (some might say the perfect storm) of art and science. There is the creative, innovative (right brain) aspect of designing a new system and the engineering (left brain) analysis and construction required to get the project off the conceptual drawing board and into production. The industry (and its stakeholders) houses a cultural melting pot of professionals, boasting artists (musicians, designers, writers) and technical gurus (computer scientists, engineers, mathematicians, accountants, etc.). IT may be a young industry, but it is a uniquely diverse one.

IT-centric jobs comprise four of the top ten featured in the 2013 edition of U.S. News and World Report’s “The Top 25 Best Jobs”—#4 Computer Systems Analyst, #6 DBA, #7 Software Developer, #9 Web Developer—with percentage growth rates predicted to be in the double digits. Information technology remains for many an exciting career choice that promises innovative and creative opportunities for technology professionals.

It may not seem surprising that such a young and burgeoning industry is also plagued with burnout and unintentional dysfunctional behavior. After years of rework (over 40% on most software projects), 60+ hour work weeks, weekends, and midnight programming binges, beleaguered IT pros …

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"The higher up you go, the more mistakes you are allowed. Right at the top, if you make enough of them, it's considered to be your style."

- Fred Astaire

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