How Do You Estimate for That?! by Bruce Nielson

Trying to estimate software projects is difficult to say the least. But sometimes, it’s just impossible.

I just finished resolving a problem on my project that I spent the last two days working on. The task was to issue a Purchase Order (PO) to a vendor using the SAP interface available to me. 

It all started when the Purchasing group called to tell me they couldn’t release the PO because they got an error in SAP that says it would put the project over budget. They tried everything and couldn’t get it to work. They had no idea how to fix it, so they threw it back to me to resolve. I then started calling people all over the place. I talked to accounting, to finance, to IT, and I even called the help desk which resulted in a conversation with someone in some other country that I couldn’t understand.

Finally, IT sent me over to taxes, who told me that the reason it wasn’t working is because when they make a PO, they automatically add an amount to it for tax even if the purchase is services and not taxable. So any project amount you enter must have taxes added to it even if there are no taxes to be charged.

Armed with this knowledge, I then had the project amount raised to account for these ghost taxes and the problem disappeared.

Do you really believe it’s possible to estimate something like this in a project?

Published Sunday, December 20, 2009 2:02 AM by BruceNielson