Who Would Be the Right Professional to Do Accurate Cost Estimate for Software Projects?

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We are a fast growing software company. Currently we are going for bigger and larger software projects. The problem is accurately doing cost estimates of our projects by vigorously doing man day calculations and finding the best costing for the project.

We are looking for an external consultant. What type of consultant/profession should we look for?

Any suggestions?
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Joined: Thu 14 May 2015 4:30 pm

That's a tricky dilemma. If you're doing software projects that have never been done before then its very difficult to get correct estimates other than using SMEs since you have no analogous data to go by.

I'm going to assume you want better estimates in order to bid for contracts and not get burned by inaccurate estimates. The only suggestion I would make is to see if you can construct a Cost Plus contract or a time & materials contract. Other than that there's no magic a PM can do or magical software that can accurately predict something that has no historical data.
"When you fail to plan, you plan to fail" - Benjamin Franklin

I agree with TonyD. If you're fast growing, I'm assuming you're a relatively new company and therefore have little to no relevant project history to call on for aiding in your estimating process. Ideally an experienced account manager - with the help of an experienced PM and likely a tech lead would aid in the estimating process. But the safest route to do good project work and maintain a reasonable profit margin would be to do a time and materials project. That's going to be scary to the customer though...as many see it as a potentially never ending process of work and billing. Believe me, I had a contractor working on my house and he took a long time to tear everything apart and use up all the dollars he had "estimated" he would need on the project and I had paid him along the way. When we reached the cap of what he originally estimated and I looked around and saw a torn up house only about half complete with nothing functional...I refused to pay him anymore till he actually accomplished something. Needless to say, he quit. This contractor was basically trying to extort money from me by tearing up my entire house first and leaving nothing functional. I'm not trying to say that is what companies are trying to do on T&M projects. But if you're new and have no established relationship with the client organization, they may be hesitant to give you the T&M work because this may be an underlying fear of theirs.
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