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EastBay.NET: #NoEstimates

 #NoEstimates - Allen Holub

Software development project estimates are always guesses and they're always wrong.  Consequently, estimate-based planning is foolhardy at best. In spite of this fact, estimates are a central part of most software-development processes, even some agile processes. 

Getting rid of estimates doesn't mean that you can't plan, but you have to go about planning in a more effective way. In fact, if you start by eliminating estimates, you'll eventually arrive at a fully agile process that works significantly better than many in common use (like Scrum). 

This session outlines the problems surrounding an estimation culture and details how to solve those problems using actual measurements and priority-based planning.

Come and see how you can apply these techniques in your own software development projects.

Allen Holub ( is an internationally recognized consultant, trainer, speaker, and author. He specializes in Lean/Agile processes and culture, agile-focused architecture (such as microservices),and cloud-based web-application development. Allen's worn every hat from grunt programmer to CTO, and has written a dozen books and hundreds of magazine articles for various technical publications. His "C Chest" column and subsequent blogs for Dr. Dobb's journal, and his "Java Toolbox" column for JavaWorld were highly influential in the industry.  

He has taught for the U.C. Extension since 1983, and he speaks regularly at various conferences, worldwide. He's also a Pluralsight author("Swift In Depth," "Picturing Architecture," and "Object-Oriented Design")
Contact Allen at: [masked], twitter @allenholub.


6:45 Announcements

7:00 - 8:45 Main presentation

8:45 - 9:00 Raffle

Pizza will be provided before the main presentation (while it lasts).

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  • Ryan E.

    Although not a .net talk, I enjoyed it because it was an interesting take on agile and estimates. Clearly they are on the right track if the subject triggers people that much! ;) NoEstimates appeals to my pragmatic side which agrees estimates are pointless busywork that gets in the way of simply doing your job. I love the backstory about story points. I told my coworkers and they agreed wholeheartedly.

    February 10

    • Henrik E.

      It seems like Allen hasn't changed the talk much then...

      If estimates are pointless and in the way, then how'd you make a decision without an idea about the size of the impacts of that decision?

      February 12

    • Henrik E.

      Also, did you tell your CEO as well? What did he/she think about not estimating?

      February 12

  • Larry Q.

    Thanks for the presentation, it was eye-opening. And as a former JIRA user I couldn't help but smile at Allen's critiques of it along with most other sprint tools.

    For those interested, Allen has other discussions about #NoEstimates on youtube, along with talks about microservices and design patterns and Agile. Well worth checking out, as is his website,

    February 11

  • Tre' G. I.

    Allen thanks for your talk! It was great getting to chat with you. I mentioned that I have a Javascript meetup in Berkeley called "Berkeley Javascript Dojo", found here ( ). Next meetup February 25th

    I encourage people that come to use Visual Studio Code editor and that is my link to the .NET topic. If you are interested in hands on coding please check it out.

    1 · February 10

  • Allen H.

    Henrik, Perhaps you should listen to the talk before you come to conclusions. I'll address all your comments tomorrow.

    But, yes they're always wrong for one reason or another (sometimes not because of the estimation process, but because you're estimating the wrong thing), and yes you can plan. Let's talk tomorrow after the session if I haven't explained things well enough in my talk. I'm always happy to discuss---I often learn something when I do. Also, #NoEstimates is a very agile approach to software development. If you don't believe that Agile works, you won't think much of it.

    2 · February 8

    • Henrik E.

      I've seen this­
      Also, I merely question the description of this talk. It's enough to be questioned.

      No. Estimates aren't always wrong. Many many times I've said things like: "This feature will be finished next week." And it usually turns out to be right.

      February 9

  • Lamont

    Estimates are estimates and should only be viewed as such; not as hard targets. It is only when they are outside the margin of error that they are considered wrong. I'm looking forward to the talk.

    February 7

  • Henrik E.

    "Software development project estimates are always guesses and they're always wrong."
    Really? Are the participants buying this "alternative fact"? It's an extreme and binary statement. Much in line with how "techies" resonate.
    If you're guessing, you're doing it wrong. And they are not "always wrong". Then you're doing it wrong too. Learn how to estimate instead.

    "Getting rid of estimates doesn't mean that you can't plan". Humpty Dumpty language. How could you possibly plan without an idea about the size of the thing you're planning?

    I think this is all a play with words. And I'd be highly skeptical with people playing word games.
    "People play word games to further their agenda, and ... slightly different definitions of a word are a trap if you agree to their definition." (


    January 30

  • Claudio C.

    Great topic! Doing No Estimates on a project is always tricky, but having Retrospectives are important to generate insights to do better estimations. Hope you can discuss it on the presentation.

    January 30

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