How big is your Project?

how big is my projectIf this question doesn’t scare you, I’d be surprised. What does ‘big’ mean, anyway? Is it about the Product? About the Effort? About the Cost? What? All of these are good
Let’s look at how real people answer a real question about a real Project – having a new house built. The question from your best friend is: “How big is your house going to be?” and your answer to this is: “It’s a 10 room Ranch-style house, 3 bedrooms / 2½ Baths, 3200 square foot, and will cost $400K” because you want to give her a more-or-less complete answer. Now, this answer has three parts, and all three of these parts are (probably) necessary to understand the size of this project: questions…

  • Ranch-Style house – describing the overall type of house,
  • 10 rooms, 3 bedrooms / 2½ Baths – a summary of the number (and type) of features,
  • 3200 square feet – a summary of the physical size, and
  • $400K – a summary of the total cost.

What is the software equivalent to this description?

I propose that a description like the following would do. We’re building an Airline website that::

  • Allows customers to buy tickets and check status of flights,
  • Containing 175 Function Points worth of functionality,
  • Developed with 350 StoryPoints worth of Stories,
  • Taking approximately 3500 person-hours,
  • Across seven 2-week Sprints, and
  • Costing $4M.


  1. Would this description work for you as a description of ‘big’, if you were the Project Leader?
  2. How could you come up with this description?
  3. What metrics would you use to manage this Project?
  4. How would you expect the Production of Technical Debt to show up in these metrics?

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