My manager keeps complaining that the estimates we have come up with are too much for the customer — every time he asks us to think like a customer and see whether the estimate is valid, but my point is that even though we somehow finish the project on time, lots of issues might creep up in the project. Apart from this, I am the only developer for this project, and he puts most of the blame on me; be it design, bugs or any other discrepancy in the project.

I am not sure if I am doing anything wrong, or is software engineering a field with no bugs where everything should be perfect? Is my manager is wrong? Can anyone explain?

  • If you are the only developer on the project, why shouldn't blame for problems in the project be put on you? Or is your point just that your manager is being too harsh? Apr 10, 2015 at 5:32
  • Hmm....So does blaming people help? And yes my point is my manager is too harsh. Apr 10, 2015 at 5:46
  • Ah, I'm sorry. I didn't mean it was constructive, I was just confused as to why you mentioned it. Apr 10, 2015 at 5:48
  • @HotelCalifornia yes definitely if it was a constructive criticism,i would welcome it...one of the blame he put on me was saying "when a six member team can do it,whats wrong with your team? Why are there delays? They delivered it on time" And i have no team,i am the lone developer...how can you even compare? Apr 10, 2015 at 5:56
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    This won't help you now, but I suggest you start properly documenting all your estimates (broken down into subtasks), your time actually spent on each task, and at the end compare both. The estimate at the beginning will help negotiate features with the customer (or internally), the comparison at the end will teach you how good your estimates are, and will serve as arguments for future estimates/negotiations. It will help you establishing the track record that Robert Munn mentioned in his answer. Start measuring.
    – Jan Doggen
    Apr 10, 2015 at 7:44

3 Answers 3


Your manager is probably under pressure to justify your time estimates, thus the friction. This kind of friction is part of the work environment, there are lots of books, classes, coaching sessions available that will teach you how to interact with different people and personality types so you can do your job.

More importantly for the customer ( and for your own ease of mind ), have you established a track record for the effort it takes to deliver a project, or talked with others in the industry about your time estimates? A good way to approach this kind of problem is to find a senior programmer who can give you some guidance on how long things should take so you get a sense of how you are doing relative to industry expectations. Once you have a sense for how long things 'should' take, you can apply your soft skills to the task of negotiating with your manager for more time as appropriate.

The customer may expect things better, faster, and cheaper, but in general they only get two of those three things. I've had potential customers say things like, "We have X budget and we want to become an online leader in our space." Just because they want it does not mean it will happen. Things take as long as they take.

Of course, if you really want to excel, find a way to do the same work better, faster, and cheaper. Like I said, mostly that is not what the customer gets, but if you can do it, you will get props from your manager and your customers. Automation, improved tools, better processes - these are your friends.


Q: "What to tell a manager who tells your estimates are too much for a genuine task"

A: "I am starting at new job in x weeks. Who should I hand over the project to?"

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    It is hard to admit, but this. If said manager doesn't understand that YOU are the one with experience and that YOU are going to do the actual work, then there is no salvation.
    – Euphoric
    Apr 10, 2015 at 10:47
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    @Euphoric-If YOU don't have historical data on how long tasks take but your manager knows about how long it takes a half dozen other people to perform similar tasks then odds are extremely high that YOU are the one who doesn't understand.
    – Dunk
    Apr 10, 2015 at 14:14

Estimation is difficult to get right. The variations are often high. In my experience, breaking down tasks helps a lot to estimate and plan well. This will help your manager see why your estimates are what they are.

Try estimating in Story points at a high level (And estimate in man-hours on specific subjects within the sprint). This over a period of time will give you the velocity, which is the Story points achievable over a sprint or release. Then as we add stories, we add the Story points estimates. This activity might not be suited for a one member team though.

Deliver something to customer and get feedback from the customer. This will help you to identify early a design issue.

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