Anyone who’s developed software knows that it regularly goes over-budget and behind schedule – feature creep, as more and more new features are added – also causes delays. Planix works by providing a high level representation of your project’s requirements, actors, technical factors and environment (skill level of team, difficulty of project), then uses algorithms to determine the most likely case, the best case and the worst case outcomes. In my case, for example, my hypothetical Ruby on Rails project is estimated to take 673 hours with 4 staff members. The best case is 505 hours and the worst is 1010.
It goes without saying that Planix is super-simple to use, and that it will likely provide free and subscription-based options when it launches. It seems, in fact, to be an incredibly useful tool for software development, and it’s something that you might have expected 37Signals to develop as part of Basecamp. The crucial element, of course, is whether the estimates are accurate: I don’t have enough past projects on hand to verify that, but it’s the factor that will likely make or break this service.