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Daniel Wentzel
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Summary on the Study on Top-Down Estimation Method of Software Project Planning – A Summary by DK Wentzel

Published on 4/13/2014
For additional information  Click Here

Project planning is a crucial activity for the success of any project. The Top-Down Estimation Method was proposed by Zhang, Lü and Zhao (2006), using actual project history data in order to make software project planning more effective. This method is essentially made up of the following five working steps:

Step 1: Confirm the customer requirements or SOW (Statement of Work) if it is an internal project. Design component assumptions

Step 2: Establish WBS (Work Breakdown Structures) and choose the lifecycle model according to customer requirement.

Step 3: Implement size estimation.

Step 4: Estimate the project workload according to the average software productivity and its assumption, size estimation, and the project status.

Step 5: Distribute the effort to the work packages and establish project schedule according to the selected software life-cycle, activity WBS, and the critical dependency relationship of the tasks.

Components are designed according to assumptions made based on the customer requirements. The authors recommend combining the PERT (Program Evaluation and Review Technique) and Analog method when history data is available to more accurately estimate the project size. Effort estimation and specific schedules are obtained according to distribution of the phase effort obtained from the Waterfall method. The final product of planning is to obtain the following: a schedule Gantt chart according to the project life-cycle as well as an activity WBS showing the critical path with all the dependency relationships.

Theory and practice have proven that the Top-Down Estimation Method is a very practical and operational project planning method. Actual data indicates that this set of methods can lead to effective software project planning. The authors believe that the proper employment of this method will speed up software development. With continuous accumulation and an abundance of history data, the effect of this method can create increasing economic and social benefits. Industry adoption of this method can significantly accelerate development in the software industry.


Zhang J-G; Lü T-J; Zhao Y-M., Study on Top-Down Estimation Method of Software Project Planning, The Journal of China Universities of Posts and Telecommunications, vol. 13(2)2006, p. 108-111.

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