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Effort estimation in agile software development: Case study and improvement framework

: Tanveer, Binish; Guzman, Liliana; Engel, Ulf Martin


Journal of software 29 (2017), Nr.11, Art. e1862, 14 S.
ISSN: 2047-7481
ISSN: 2047-7473
International Conference on Software and Systems Process (ICSSP) <2016, Austin/Tex.>
Zeitschriftenaufsatz, Konferenzbeitrag
Fraunhofer IESE ()
effort estimation; framework; agile software development; change impact analysis; quality improvement paradigm

Effort estimation is more challenging in an agile context, as instead of exerting strict control over changes in requirements, dynamism is embraced. Current practice relies on expert judgment, where the accuracy of estimates is sensitive to the expertise of practitioners and prone to bias. To improve the effectiveness of the effort estimation process, the goal of this research is to investigate and understand the estimation process with respect to its accuracy in the context of agile software development from the perspective of agile development teams. Using case study research, 2 observations and eleven interviews were conducted with 3 agile development teams at SAP SE, a German multinational software corporation. The results reveal that factors such as the developer's knowledge, experience, and the complexity and impact of changes on the underlying system affect the magnitude as well as estimation accuracy. Furthermore, there is a need for a tool that incorporates expert knowledge, enables explicit consideration of cost drivers by experts and visualizes this information to improve the effectiveness of the effort estimation. On the basis of the findings of the case study, a framework, inspired by the quality improvement paradigm is proposed to improve effort estimation in agile development.