STARWEST 2018 Concurrent Session : Improve Planning Estimates Through Reducing Your Human Biases


Wednesday, October 3, 2018 - 1:45pm to 2:45pm

Improve Planning Estimates Through Reducing Your Human Biases

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Are you puzzled why your estimate turned out wrong, or stressed from working to an impossible deadline? Some teams on inaccurately estimated projects suffer stress, burnout, and poor quality, as pressure is applied to recover to an unrealistic schedule. Such project teams also descend into irrational decision-making, with potentially catastrophic consequences. Frustratingly, even when teams perform well, they are often judged by their failure to meet impossible deadlines. Andrew Brown shows how estimation errors are caused not just by new technology or intentionally manipulated estimations, but also arise normally from limitations in the way we think. Andrew explains how cognitive biases contribute towards estimation errors, and shows how to mitigate these biases. But beware! There are benefits and disadvantages of doing so. Learn how the planning fallacy, anchoring effect, and optimistic bias contribute towards estimation errors and lead to irrational decision-making. Discover the paradox of past experience, where instead of aiding prediction, our experience frequently confounds us. Learn how a planning scenario game and other tools can reduce your estimation errors. Take away ideas to make your estimates more accurate and less risky by spotting distortions creep into your estimates, then reduce those distortions by addressing the underlying cognitive biases.


Dr. Andrew Brown is a principal consultant at SQS. Recently, he has developed an independent line of research into understanding why we humans make the mistakes that lead to software defects. He has spoken at several conferences on this subject and was winner of the EuroSTAR 2017 best paper award for a tutorial on cognitive biases in testing. He has 25 years’ experience in the software industry. Previous roles include Heading up QA at HMV, Head of QA at a financial software house and a test manager in Japan. He holds a degree in Physics and Maths, an MBA from Warwick Business School and a doctorate from Imperial College.