Friday, October 26, 2012

On Being a Senior Engineer, Estimating

So, I'm moving from being a freelance consultant to a "technical lead". While I feel that I have a lot of skills in that area already, I'm always looking to grow.

So with that I'm going to be adding some posts about what it means to be a technical lead.

Also, I'm thinking about designing a presentation around estimating, because that is something that I want to learn more about. So I'm also going to be adding some estimation research up here.

And of course, other technical discoveries, AS3, flex, and others will always be here.

So I just came across this blog, On Being a Senior Engineer which I think is fantastic, and here are the bullets:

  •  Mature engineers seek out constructive criticism of their designs.
  • Mature engineers understand the non-technical areas of how they are perceived.
  • Mature engineers do not shy away from making estimates, and are always trying to get better at it.
  • Mature engineers have an innate sense of anticipation, even if they don’t know they do.
  • Mature engineers understand that not all of their projects are filled with rockstar-on-stage work.
  • Mature engineers lift the skills and expertise of those around them.
  • Mature engineers make their trade-offs explicit when making judgements and decisions.
  • Mature engineers don’t practice CYAE (“Cover Your Ass Engineering”)
  • Mature engineers are empathetic.
  • Mature engineers don’t make empty complaints.
  • Mature engineers are aware of cognitive biases

And some of the points about estimation:
Estimation is really about responsibility

(Quoted directly from the blog)

From the Unwritten Laws:
Promises, schedules, and estimates are necessary and important instruments in a well-ordered business. Many engineers fail to realize this, or habitually try to dodge the irksome responsibility for making commitments. You must make promises based upon your own estimates for the part of the job for which you are responsible, together with estimates obtained from contributing departments for their parts. No one should be allowed to avoid the issue by the old formula, “I can’t give a promise because it depends upon so many uncertain factors.”
Avoiding responsibility for estimates is another way of saying, “I’m not ready to be relied upon for building critical pieces of infrastructure.” All businesses rely on estimates, and all engineers working on a project are involved in Joint Activity, which means that they have a responsibility to others to make themselves interpredictable. In general, mature engineers are comfortable with working within some nonzero amount of uncertainty and risk.

And there is a cognitive biases (one of my weaknesses) around estimating

Planning Fallacy – (related to the point about making estimates under uncertainty, above) basically: being more optimistic about forecasting the time a particular project will take.

No comments:

Post a Comment