Due Dates

As I write this I have less than 2 days until the due date for the birth of my first child.

Its a very exciting time, but it is also infuriating waiting for it to arrive. Even in the 21st century science can not predict with any accuracy when a baby is going to arrive and we just have to wait for mother nature to do its thing.

I feel like I am stuck in limbo at the moment I have lots of work to do, lots of development changes to do on the databases, but I also know that at a moments notice I need to drop what I am doing and try and be a father.

Due dates for babies is based on average pregnancies lasting 40 weeks, but there is no such thing as an average pregnancy. But to keep this blog post on topic I somehow need to compare due dates for pregnancy with software development.

In software development we often get asked for estimates on when a particular development task will be finished. Estimates in software development are very difficult to make accurate as there are so many variables that you do not know the answer to until you start getting stuck into doing the work. One technique is to try and split the work down into small steps and estimate how long each small step will take and then add them all together. But even this technique still has a large margin of error.

What would it be like if when management asked we gave an estimate similar to what pregnant women receive? Instead of a deadline when all work has to be finished by, you have a date when there is a 50% chance of the work being finished.

I think management would have a difficult time dealing with this amount of uncertainty, I certainly am waiting for this baby to arrive.


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