Boehm’s cone of uncertainty - Working with uncertainty in Agile Software Processes.
Understanding Boehm's Cone with a simple example
Agile software development processes are designed to be adaptable and responsive to change. This means that working with uncertainty and volatility is just part of the job. However, managing these challenges can be difficult, especially when it comes to accurately estimating the time and resources needed to complete a project.
One tool that can help with this is Boehm's cone of uncertainty. This model, developed by software engineer Barry Boehm, illustrates the relationship between the amount of information available about a project and the accuracy of project estimates.
At the beginning of a project, there is a high level of uncertainty and a low level of information available. As a result, estimates are likely to be less accurate. As the project progresses and more information becomes available, the uncertainty level decreases and estimates' accuracy increases.
The cone of uncertainty can be used to help project managers and team members understand the importance of gathering as much information as possible early on in the project. By doing so, they can reduce the level of uncertainty and improve the accuracy of their estimates. The model is typically depicted as a cone shape, with the level of uncertainty on the vertical axis and the amount of information available on the horizontal axis.
Imagine a team starting work on a new project to build a mobile app. At the beginning of the project, there is a high level of uncertainty because the team doesn't yet have all of the necessary information about the app's requirements, the technology that will be used, or the potential challenges they might face. As a result, their estimates for how long the project will take and how much it will cost are likely to be less accurate.
As the team gathers more information and progresses through the project, the level of uncertainty decreases. For example, as they work with the client to define the app's requirements in more detail and make decisions about the technology stack, the team has a better understanding of what needs to be done and can make more accurate estimates.
At the same time, the team may also encounter new challenges or uncertainties as they work on the project. For example, they may discover that certain features are more complex to implement than they initially thought. In this case, the level of uncertainty may increase again temporarily until the team is able to gather more information and come up with a plan to address the challenge.
Overall, the cone of uncertainty helps to illustrate the importance of gathering as much information as possible early on in a project and continuously reassessing and adapting as the project progresses.
The cone of uncertainty is just one tool and there are other factors at play when it comes to managing uncertainty and volatility in agile software development. However, it can be a helpful way to visualize the relationship between information and uncertainty and can serve as a reminder to prioritize gathering information early on in the project.
Did you find this article valuable?
Support Adeesh Sharma by becoming a sponsor. Any amount is appreciated!