Top-down estimating involves setting the target price of the deliverable your project is going to result in, then designing the project in such a way that costs do not exceed that target price.
You might, for example, be working on a software product that has competitors. You utilize the top-down technique by saying, "We have the ability to build this product as well. What kind of production cost leeway do we have if we take our competitor' s price and subtract out a profit margin?"
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