Hackernoon logoWhy It’s Hard to Provide Accurate Product Estimates Under Most Popular Product Management… by@poornima

Why It’s Hard to Provide Accurate Product Estimates Under Most Popular Product Management…

Poornima Vijayashanker Hacker Noon profile picture

@poornimaPoornima Vijayashanker


Hiten Shah Founder of Product Habits (right) and Poornima Vijayashanker, founder of Femgineer(left)

Interview with Hiten Shah Founder of Product Habits

What’s probably the MOST popular and frustrating question you’ve come across when building a product: “How long do you think it will take to do task X?”

It’s frustrating on so many levels…

First, we need to produce an “accurate” estimate. If it’s off, there goes our ship date!

Next, we need to give a response that seems “realistic”, i.e. is going to meet the expectations or deadlines set by someone else.

Third, we need to be a fortune teller and anticipate things that come up in the course of completing task X.

Finally, we have to do it the moment we’re asked because we’re expected to know how long any task will take.

I don’t know about you, but despite building and launching a number of software products over the past 14 years, I still struggle with estimating how long a task will take to complete.

There are a number of approaches and methodologies that have sprung up over the years such as Waterfall, Agile and Lean whose goal is to provide a framework that helps engineers, designers, and product managers to estimate how long something will take to build and ship. However, as you’ve probably experienced, each one of these misses the mark.

In today’s episode we’ll dive into the aftershocks you may experience when it comes to following one of these approaches and providing product estimates.

Next week we’ll tackle an alternate approach that may seem too good to be true…

To help us out, I’ve invited Hiten Shah, who is the founder of a number of software products such as Crazy Egg, Kissmetrics, and his most recent project is called Product Habits.

As you watch the episode you’ll learn the following:

  • Why we suck at estimating even if we’ve been doing it for a while
  • Why we’re surprised each time our product estimates miss the mark
  • What happens if we decide to “pad” our estimates
  • What happens when we get rid of estimating altogether
  • Why a task we think a task is 80% complete but really it’s more like 50% complete

Have you tried one of these approaches? Let us know in the comments below what you experienced when you did.

Listen to the episode on iTunes!

You can listen to this episode of Build on iTunes.

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Check out these additional resources on estimating stories for your product:

Build is produced as a partnership between Femgineer and Pivotal Tracker. San Francisco video production by StartMotionMEDIA.


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