Project Estimating: The Only Guide you Need
The weather is the talk in the office. The heatwave is one reason to work long hours. Fortunately, we have air conditioning that makes life bearable. Top temperatures are water-cooler subjects. Is it 34 degrees outside? Or 33? It’s too hot. But, it has made it clear to me that I am terrible at estimating.
I have known since childhood that I am not good at estimation. Apart from cold, fine and hot, I can’t tell you how hot it is. I don’t know how far it is from here to Birmingham or how big my front room is. I don’t know what height people are, other than those who are shorter than me or taller. My height is 5ft 2. Concerning people, I am also terrible with ages.
Time is the only thing I can predict.
As a project manager, that’s what I’ll do.
My ability to estimate time allows me participate in everyday conversations where I am expected make an informed contribution. In 5 minutes, I’ll be too hot. How far is it? It takes me 15 minutes to walk there. It doesn’t help with height or age, but it does help.
It is helpful for projects. It is useful to be able to make educated guesses about the tasks of a project.
This article will discuss estimating techniques for budgets and schedules. These are the things that we need to know in order to complete projects.
Task estimation: The basics
5 Project estimating techniques1. Expert judgement
2. PERT: Program Evaluation and Review Technology
3. Analogous Estimating
4. Top-down estimation
5. Parametric estimating
Which technique should you choose to use?
Creating accurate estimatesWhen do you estimate?
There are two reasons project managers estimate:
To first, align expectations among stakeholders so everyone understands what to expect and is cognizant of the uncertainty in the numbers
To make better and more informed decisions based on what we know about the project’s performance.
Estimates are created primarily for project budgets or project schedules. It is important to be able estimate how much and how long it will take.
There are many ways to do this, starting with the simple method of guessing (based on professional judgment obviously) to statistical models.
My experience shows that most project managers, especially those who are involved in business change, new technology, or transformation projects, prefer techniques that fall somewhere between the extremes. Although we wouldn’t say that we would guess, we wouldn’t do statistical modeling.
It is crucial that accurate estimates are accurate. They can make the difference between your stakeholders being satisfied with project performance and you being constantly stressed. They can help you manage your resources as you can ask them for the number of people needed to complete the task.
Task estimation: The basics
Let’s get started with the basics. It is important to ask simple questions when starting a new project.
What is the most important thing? What time will each task take you? How much will it cost? These questions will help you create a timeline and a budget.
Use estimates that are derived from the people who will actually do the work. If you are unable to get in touch with them or someone with a similar background or profile, make a conservative, educated guess. Ask if similar projects have been done before. Talk to the manager. What was the time it took to complete this piece of work?
Be realistic about the tasks that need to be completed and how long each task will take. Your project will be successful if you have a realistic timeline.
Warning: It’s important to strike a balance between too much planning and estimation at this stage, and meeting the expectations and needs of your stakeholders. You can’t make them wait forever. Try to get a best estimate of the end date or cost.