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Fundamentals of Forecasting

Predicting accurate completion dates using NoEstimates

Matthew Philip

NoEstimates is a lightweight approach to planning and delivering work that applies Agile thinking to help teams improve deadline performance, focus on value, and reduce budget risk. It helps you answer questions about when products will be finished or how to forecast completion dates with less effort and more accuracy.

If you’re keen to know how to spend less time estimating and more time delivering working software—while providing your customers with some understanding of predictability—expert Matthew Philip helps you understand what factors influence delivery time and by how much. Join in to learn how to move from upfront, intuition-based estimates to a data-based probabilistic forecast that provides a more reliable way to talk about when you’ll be done—and expend less effort to do so. You’ll learn to predict when things will be done with less effort and more accuracy.

What you'll learn-and how you can apply it

By the end of this live, hands-on, online course, you’ll understand:

  • The basics of NoEstimates and how it helps improve delivery
  • How to reduce variation that affects and creates risk in delivery
  • The difference between deterministic and probabilistic forecasts

And you’ll be able to:

  • Create a probabilistic forecast that provides a less risky way to plan
  • Experiment to determine what factors influence delivery time
  • Start simply by collecting data

This training course is for you because...

  • You’re a software developer who wants to better estimate when projects will be done and spend more of your time developing.
  • You’re a software team manager or leader who needs to inform stakeholders when projects will be completed with accuracy and predictability.

Prerequisites

  • A working knowledge of traditional estimating approaches
  • Familiarity with spreadsheets such as Excel and Google Sheets

Recommended Preparation:

About your instructor

  • Matthew Philip is a human-centered change agent, delivery leader, and coach at Accenture | SolutionsIQ. Matthew helps organizations build the right teams to build the right things the right way via Agile methods and engaging work environments. He has 19 years’ global experience in digital consulting, with the most recent 15 in Agile contexts, including roles at ThoughtWorks, where he led the global workshops team, and Asynchrony, where he served as director of Agile coaching. He’s the creator of the open source NoEstimates board game, which he’s facilitated at conferences and with clients around the world.

Schedule

The timeframes are only estimates and may vary according to how the class is progressing

Introduction (10 minutes)

  • Group discussion: Probabilistically estimating ordinary things
  • Lecture: Learning goals

Answering “When will it be done?” (25 minutes)

  • Lecture: Estimates; solutions; myth of correlation; Hofstadter’s law; Parkinson’s law; complexity and Cynefin; NoEstimates and the NoEstimates manifesto
  • Hands-on exercise: Identify your project using Cynefin
  • Q&A

Sources of variation (10 minutes)

  • Group discussion: Sources of variation; reducing sources of variation (remedies and policies)

Data over intuition (15 minutes)

  • Group discussion: Human cognitive biases
  • Hands-on exercise: Explore scatterplot dice rolls
  • Q&A

Break (5 minutes)

Deterministic versus probabilistic thinking (25 minutes)

  • Lecture: Straight-line forecasts and the flaw of averages; the probabilistic forecast
  • Hands-on exercise: Create a probabilistic forecast with your data
  • Q&A

Next steps (10 minutes)

  • Lecture: The business and better questions to ask; how to start
  • Q&A

Wrap-up and Q&A (20 minutes)