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StarEstimator, from the Starbase Corporation, Print
When you're planning your next project, don't you sometimes wish that you had your very own crystal ball?
That way, you could see into the future to work out how long your project will actually take, and more importantly, keep a strong eye on its costs.

Wish You Could Take Some of The Guesswork Out of Project Planning?

The Answer Just Might Be In The Stars!

Web site: http://www.starbase.com

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{mosadsense4joomla ad_layout="A"ad_align=""}Estimation is a very important part of project planning because there is certainly nothing worse for project managers than having to try and explain why the project has overrun and why it cost so much more to complete than was originally stated. It's important to get these estimations right from the start, but since we can't see into the future and because guesswork just won't cut it, it's even more important to ensure that you're using the right estimation software to help cut down the likelihood of any nasty surprises.

Up until now, you may have looked to the sky, searching in vain for some sort of inspiration or divine intervention. Funnily enough, the answer to your prayers may just have been in the stars all along or at least at the Starbase Corporation, as they introduce their answer to the problem of reliable project estimation with StarEstimator.

StarEstimator is a software development and e-commerce project planning, management, and estimation tool designed specifically to take most of the guesswork out of the project management process by helping to estimate all aspects of a project and providing the information that could mean the difference between success and failure.

For extra reliability, it can utilise up to seven different estimation methodologies that can be combined in a range of statistical formats to provide users with the most complete estimation information currently available. StarEstimator helps you plan your project by giving you the ability to create a project framework, allocate tasks, and examine the team's features and capabilities. You can then factor in any external constraints, proven influential factors, and management issues via the industry standard COCOMO II estimation model. The methodology you are employing for your project can then be analysed and tested, and from this you can estimate and accurately establish factors such as project length and cost.

StarEstimator will compare project data against a historical database of over 20,000 successful projects to see how your data compares, giving you their chances of success. You can alter the project parameters to see how various changes might affect project estimates to give an effective means for project planners to carry out risk analysis and test 'what-if' scenarios.
It is also possible to re-analyse data at various points along the lifecycle of a project as factors change to ensure the estimates are being met, but also to highlight any problems and changes that might alter your original estimates and project plan before they happen so you can stay ahead of the game.

StarEstimator could not be easier to use and more wizards have been included than at a magic convention!
These take you through each element of the program step by step, simplify the estimation process, and help show you the way to successful project completion by telling you exactly what you need to get there. If you're still struggling, Starbase also provides an on-line help facility to help you with any other problems you might have. StarEstimator is also highly flexible and can be exported into Microsoft Project or any project management tool that supports .MPX formats. It will also work alongside Starbase's StarTeam for a more complete project management solution.

StarEstimator retails for around GBP 2,658.00, which isn't cheap when one considers that there are other more "complete" project management tools with estimation capabilities for nearly half the price.
This leaves potential buyers with quite a dilemma. Do you buy just one complete project management package with some estimation functions, or go for StarEstimator, which specialises in providing reliable estimation information?
That decision, of course, has to depend on the size of your wallet and how critical reliable project estimation is to you and your business.

It's important that the estimation software you use is reliable, and that you trust it to provide you with the right information. If you're happy with what you're already using, then stick with it. However, if you're still pulling your hair out and beginning to feel that reliable project estimation is an impossible dream, then you have nothing to lose by giving StarEstimator a try.

Overall, StarEstimator does what it does very well, but there has to be a question mark over whether it is really necessary, considering there are other packages out there that can achieve the same thing and more, while the cost of the package must also make some potential buyers think twice.

Having said that, Starbase does see the cost as an investment and argues that you should see a return on that investment within twelve months. If you can look at the price in this way, it may make it easier to handle, but of course, there can be no guarantees whether such bold claims will ring true for everyone.

The importance of accurately being able to estimate project costs, resource requirements, and project length should definitely not be overlooked. The ability this program offers to remove the constraint of simply offering your 'best guess' when it comes to answering these questions is an important one, and is perhaps an advantage that is worth paying for. It is a shame that this package has been targeted specifically at software development projects, because there are probably many other project managers who wish they could utilise this same technology.

If project estimation is proving to be the bane of your life, then StarEstimator could possibly surprise you. The initial purchase may hurt at first, but perhaps it's about time at least one of your wishes came true, and this is one star that will keep on shining.

StarEstimator
receives a PROJECTmagazine rating of
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