Check this out:
The project was scheduled to be completed five years ago, but now isn’t expected to be fully finished until 2005. Since planning started, the cost estimate for the project has ballooned from $2.6 billion to $14.6 billion.
Except for the sheer magnitude of the overage, this could sound like any number of software projects. There has been lots written about why software projects fail (or come in late and over budget). Why can’t writing code be more like assembling things in a factory or doing a construction project? Well, a lot of times the software we’re building is a bit different from anything that’s ever been made before. Usually not a lot different, but enough to provide some uncertainty. It doesn’t help that the customer often doesn’t know exactly what they want until they see it.
Anyhow, for folks who think that software estimation should be more like that of construction projects, maybe you can take Boston’s Big Dig as a cautionary tale that maybe things aren’t so bad in the software world. At least with software, you can be agile.