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See Also: UnitXP
I've prepared this text to efficiently process two common currently occurring and related phenomena.
The first is the amount of unpaid work I can put in on a lead before I must have some payment if I have not decided to do the work on some other basis.
I am just a single struggling worker so I am forced to spend no more time on a lead than a rational expectation of closing and completing a job indicates is justified. Necessarily there will be some misappraisal and some potential biz will be lost, that's the way free markets work. I started my professional programming career as a junior engineer in a division of a conglomerate that was a subcontractor to IBM in the acquisition and award phases of a contract for the modernization of the Air Force Satellite Control Facility that spanned two years.
I am risk averse however and I also am loathe to perform work for nothing in this era, in which one must work very fast, in requirements analysis and design. This doesn't mean I won't do it, but the party requesting such unpaid service must be such that I can be reasonably sanguine about the aforementioned expectation, as Litton and IBM were because they knew the Federal Government had already decided to award IBM the contract. For that reason the IBM team was willing to spend maybe a million or so to get an award worth billions.
The second is so-called Capability Maturity (CMM) and its antipattern CIMM , which has to do with the reliablity of estimates in CMM Level I or lower situations.
Of course the lack of adequate requirements analysis and design is a major penultimate root cause of failure in software development projects (the ultimate root being the universal antipattern Failure of Responsibility). These elements are seldom done well outside of very mature and well capitalized organizations and nonetheless work gets done. There is huge waste and very high rates of failure for immature actors entering the Software Development arena. Trynna address that in the way that Capitalism provides.
Those who are software development professionals are aware of these issues and that the ability to accurately estimate software development is at issue but this text is provided for those who are not.
In particular, if you are asking me to produce work product, which mature well capitalized entities produce with team(s) of professionals, it's imperative to consider the above. Your actual best first dollars spent on that exciting world changing idea might be $500 for a half professional day of time with someone with over 40 years in professional software development. Please note that analysis of your biz plan, spec, etc. is professional work and while I may give you some feedback free, a professional impression, analysis, will not generally be free.
2014-02-27 WaPo "Stunned" Article