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"It's very hard for those outside the technology inner circle to determine who has mad skills and who's slacking, until it becomes obvious that certain IT ninjas are the ones who step in to solve the problems again and again."
Those ninjas are usually the ones that find themselves on the short list to stay on when the economy turns south. That sounds like success to me. As a Sr. PHB myself whose technical skills have dwindled now down to still being able to spell EssQueElle and vaguely understanding that data can Hibernate but in a slightly different way than polar bears, it can be very difficult at times to hire qualified technical staff. Personally, I utilize some of my ninjas to help with that process but every once in a while someone makes it in that truly can't cut it. And now that funding is tight, I don't seem to have any of them.
p.s.... Just want to ensure Anonymous knows it was Taco, not us, that labeled you Cowards!
L1 is pre-initiation with virtually no project details. Estimating is done solely by managers using experience, actuals from prior similar work, and their gut feel. We call it the SWAG level, and customer is trained to expect +/- 100%. We also occasionally have to give ROM estimates for our customers to gain funding prior to a project being accepted as real. In this case we use three high-level estimates (worst case, most likely, and best case) and then show three levels of std. deviation to the customer.
L2 is during initiation, when a few more details are known but usually no hard specs. SDLC area leads do the estimates, but still at a high level. Customer is trained to expect +/- 50%
L3 is after business requirements are documented and accepted. SDLC area leads and key staff do the estimates, and chunk work into no more than 80 hour tasks. Customer is trained to expect +/- 25%.
L4 is after technical design is documented and accepted. SDLC area leads and key staff do the estimates, again chunked into >=80 hour tasks. Customer is trained to expect +/- 10%.
Managing requirements changes after L3 is crucial. You have to ensure the customer understands the impact of any changes to scope. Works for us on $15M of project work every year for a happy customer. Side note: after about a year, it's scary how close L1 estimates can be. Managers aren't all bad.
*Since everyone adds a reason why you should listen to them, guess I will too. I'm the managing director over a software development group of about 120 people. Oh yeah, with about 15 years of industry experience.
Must have been for 7i. Bet the response from Oracle will be something along the line of upgrade to 10g.