in reply to a question on case/software engineering

If you're interested in estimation, I'd recommend this book: Software Estimation: Demystifying the Black Art. I found it very enlightening, and have effectively used some of what I learned.

For the rates question, another book recommendation: Getting to Yes. I first heard about this book 5 years ago on perlmonks (software collectives vs. price of organizational license), and ordered it because the amazon reviews were so impressive. It got lost on my bookshelf until this past year when I picked it up, and it's been so interesting and useful that I regret not having read it sooner.