Software Estimation: Demystifying the Black Art. Redmond, Wa.: Microsoft Press, 352 pages, 2006. Retail price: $39.95. ISBN: 0735605351. Order paperback or Kindle from Amazon.com or Ebook from O'Reilly. Look for best price from CampusI (biggest list of sources). Non-US buyers, check out AddALL for exchange rates and non-US sellers.

Reviews

"Software Estimation: Demystifying the Black Art ... is the definitive book on one of the most difficult aspects of software development. McConnell is one of the best writers in the business. In his usual highly readable and practical style, this book presents a wealth of techniques that can help both practitioners and project managers do a better -- although of course never perfect -- job of estimating the size, effort, and time needed for their next chunk of work."
    -- Karl Wiegers, Author of Software Requirements and More About Software Requirements

"Once again, [McConnell] has delivered a technical masterpiece that should be required reading for anyone responsible for estimation.  All of the material is delivered in a sensible manner that is easy to comprehend.  I have gained a significant amount of insight into the entire concept.... On a scale of one to five, I would easily give this book a five. It is an excellent resource for practical advice about software estimation."
    -- Jeff W. Barnes, jeffbarnes.net

"McConnell is one of the most reasonable people in the industry today, and has a wikipedic knowledge of the literature on development practices. His contention in this book is that estimation isn’t as difficult as people think, as long as it’s approached like any other engineering problem.... The best part of this book for me is the way McConnell weighs each piece of evidence. Take, for example, his discussion of the COCOMO II estimation formula, which includes almost two dozen different factors calculated from mountains of empirical data collected over many years. As McConnell points out, many of the factors require human judgment, which means that COCOMO II’s output is too easily skewed to be of real practical use. However, it’s a great way to see what relative effect changes in estimates will have, since it takes into account the nonlinear relationships between those factors.... This “appeal to evidence” is what the snake-oil advocates of UML, agility, and other fads don’t do, but it is what our profession needs most."
    -- Greg Wilson, Third Bit blog

"Some authors (very few as far as I'm concerned) have a consistent record of putting out extraordinary material - like the Pixars of the software book industry. Steve McConnell is one of those guys. There's one thing that CS degree never prepared you for: telling the project stakeholders just how long the project was going to take (and getting that number right). Lots of people have written about project estimation, and most of them, behind the covers, are just guessing (like most developers and managers) and making money off BS arithmetic / methodology tricks. Others are just shamelessly pushing methodologies and tools (and speaking gigs) like a street-corner dealer selling crack to the distraught masses. Steve McConnell's new book Software Estimation: Demystifying the Black Art is what they should all have written instead. If you have ever thought to yourself "there's got to be a better way" every time you give out another project estimate, you need to read this book.
    -- DevPrime blog

"This book should be read by everyone in [project manager and software engineer] roles. It provides techniques to estimate (nay, measure) software effort and lists techniques to help both devs and managers get a handle on how to run a project. Fantastic stuff!"
    -- Sublime Software blog

"This book will make you a better estimator and project manager and I highly recommend it."
    -- Tom Carpenter, Author of Wireless# Certification Official Study Guide

"I'd definitely recommend reading it if you are (or aspire to be) a lead developer or technical project manager. In fact I think I will definitely give it a re-read in six months or so again to see what else I can learn from it as well as to see how my estimation skills have improved."
    Elain van Bergen, blog entry

Email me at stevemcc@construx.com.