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I am looking to create a time estimate for a project of mine, however, I am having trouble finding good software to create the estimate in. Is a simple Gantt chart the way to go?

What are some recommendations for good time estimation software?

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migrated from stackoverflow.com Oct 12 '10 at 21:18

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I just break things into tasks and sketch estimates out on paper. Maybe use a calculator to add things up if there are lots of little estimates to total. –  Anna Lear Oct 12 '10 at 20:59
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And this might be a good question to ask on Programmers.SE: programmers.stackexchange.com –  Anna Lear Oct 12 '10 at 21:00
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I use Napkin.exe - available in most restaurants. –  code4life Oct 12 '10 at 21:01
    
You hand your boss time estimates on napkins? How does that go over? –  kgrad Oct 12 '10 at 21:02
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/dev/random seems to generate pretty reliable estimates –  Paul R Oct 12 '10 at 21:12

3 Answers 3

OpenProj?

"OpenProj is a free, open source project management solution. OpenProj is a replacement of Microsoft Project and other commercial project solutions. The OpenProj solution has been download more than 1,250,000 times in the few months since launch and is being used in over 142 countries...OpenProj is ideal for desktop project management and is available on Linux, Unix, Mac or Windows. It even opens existing Microsoft or Primavera files. OpenProj shares the industry's most advanced scheduling engine with Project-ON-Demand and provides Gantt Charts, Network Diagrams (PERT Charts), WBS and RBS charts, Earned Value costing and more. "

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Manic Time. works very well, highly recommend.

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That looks interesting, but is for time tracking rather than planning and estimating a project timeframe –  Linker3000 Oct 12 '10 at 21:34
    
@Linker3000: whoops, my bad. –  studiohack Oct 12 '10 at 22:12

It is a little bit of a plug since Spolsky and thereby FogBugz is involved in the creation of StackExchange, but the FogBugz suite of project/time/bugtracking software seems to have the best solution to this problem that I know of.

For each project that you add to the database, you can provide an estimate, or provide estimates for subtasks. All the subtasks are aggregated and update the overall estimate time, but more importantly is this idea they have called "EBS" or evidence based scheduling.

I won't bore you with the details, but basically they have a algorithm for looking at each individual team members historical accuracy with respect to time estimates on projects, and it uses that historical accuracy factor to predict the delivery dates of future projects.

I have no relationship with FogBugz btw, and have not been able to talk my employer into migrating to their web-based, Mercurial-based system from our current SVN setup...

You can read more here: a blog about EBS and here: feature description from FogBugz.com

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