The Extreme Overestimator

A Developer who has become so afraid of missing their deadlines that they ask for as much additional time as they can get away with.

Problem

Given the choice, most project managers would much rather have developers who overestimate, than those who underestimate. The rationale is that while they may take a long time, they are at least predictable. The Extreme Overestimator is very aware of this, and takes full advantage of it by asking for as much time as they can get away with, rather than taking into consideration how much time it would actually take to do their work.

The Extreme Overestimators are sometimes impossible to spot. They can be mistaken for being mature and responsible, as unlike their seemingly less experienced fellow developers, they never miss a deadline. There are some signs, however, that distinguish them:

  • Their fellow developers, when asked for the same estimate, provide a dramatically shorter amount of time.
  • If you give them a due date, they immediately state they can make that date, without doing any formal estimation at all.
  • In the case where they quickly say they can make a date, if you move the date up slightly, they will also agree to that date. This means the extra time between the two dates are not really needed for completion of the task

The Extreme Overestimators make the company less competitive. If you are racing against a competitor to deliver a feature, you will always be slower to market.

Solution

The Extreme Overestimator is created by an organization as it punishes developers for being late. Their natural reaction is to ask for as much time as possible to minimize their chances of being late. This may seem simple to fix, but there are three things working against you:

  1. Being The Extreme Overestimator is a far lower stress mode of operation than attempting to do proper estimation.
  2. The Extreme Overestimators will tend to be rewarded and promoted in a development environment, far above those who miss important deadlines.
  3. The business has to increase their tolerance for being late, which most businesses are incapable of doing once a particular delivery mindset has been established.

Therefore the problem is fixable, but there is no will to fix it. By their very nature, they pose no danger to the project, but potentially pose a great danger to the future viability of the company.


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