Sunday, August 22, 2010

It’s not the size that counts…

Any company that produces something will be faced with the task of estimating effort. (A company that produces nothing only has to estimate how long they think they can keep afloat.) Whether you build hovercrafts or databases, someone is going to want to know how long you think it will take, so that they can then ask “can you do it in half that?”

Estimates are used by different people in different ways. Marketing use estimates to determine the maximum amount they can get away with charging for a product. Clients use estimates to work out the smallest amount they can get away with paying for a product. And the estimators themselves use the estimates to indicate their willingness to create the product in question - the higher the estimate, the more reluctant they are.

Estimates are usually based on some form of written requirement from the client. To get an idea of the size of the project, reformat this document using a standard font size, line spacing and margin settings. Then print it on 80GSM paper, and bind with a single 26/6 staple. Weigh this document, in grams (accurate to the 3rd decimal place) take away 6.738 and then multiply this number by 11.375. The resulting number is your estimate by weight, known as a heftimate. (Note that more important projects, such as tenders, may be printed on a better class of thicker paper, bound in folders with metal rings. These heavier documents will provide larger heftimates which in turn reflects the gravitas of the project.)

Heftimation in incredibly accurate, and takes the guesswork out of sizing a project. This means that projects are more likely to come in on budget, clients will be happier, and most importantly it means that no one will ever need to use the word “guesstimate” ever again.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

A weighty problem

It may come as a surprise to some that the sedentary nature of working in the software industry can significantly increase your weight. Plankton has found that the cumulative waistline of all staff has risen from a modest 1,594cm to 7,438cm in the last three weeks alone. For a company that only employs 37 people, this is quite a concern. While Plankton does what it can to prevent employee weight gain (including providing caffeinated drinks to increase metabolism and hi-carb foods to maintain elevated energy levels) there are measures that each individual staff member can also undertake to help take the stress off the company floorboards.

The quickest way to lose weight in the office is to desimplify your communications. When typing a document, approximately 7.8 kilojoules are burnt with every keystroke. Therefore the more words you use, and the longer each word is, the better your document will be for you.

But the health benefits of a larger document do not stop there. When printed, this mega-document will cause the printer to run for longer and hotter, thus increasing the already sauna-like conditions in the office. The larger printed document will, obviously, be heavier, especially if the company-recommended “weight loss printer settings” (font size 36, triple spacing and single side) are used. This will make lifting the document an exercise regime all in itself.

This larger document will also require more reviewing. Larger review teams, having more meetings, means that more people will move from their desks to meeting rooms and back, all while carrying this impressive dumbell-esque tome. Consequently, the more words a document has, the more changes are likely to be required, which means more reprinting, more reviewing and more meetings.

This cycle will hopefully continue until the documents people create are bigger and heavier than the people that created them.