Estimate Your Projects From Bottom up
By Richard Morreale
In the last article of the Project Planning Process series, we examined the topic of organizing the activities into a dependency network - Today’s article is the 6th installment of this series.
A lot of people classify the job of estimating effort and timescales as a finger in the air type of job – what some people call an educated guess. Some people say it is impossible to estimate accurately because we don’t have enough information. Some people attempt to estimate at too high a level. Some people agree to a delivery date or give senior management a delivery date just to keep senior management happy. They reckon that as the Project progresses they will be able to point to all sorts of things that might be affecting or causing the committed date to slip. I’ve heard all of this before, seen all of this before and I’m here to tell you that at this point in the planning process you have enough information to accurately provide an estimate and timescales on the Stages that you are planning.
The way you do it is to sit down with affected members of your Team, break each Activity down to the Tasks that will be required to complete the Activity and then estimate the effort and timescales relating to the Tasks. Add those up and you now have the estimate for the Activity. Add the estimates and timescales up for all of the Activities required to produce a Product and you have the effort and timescale for the Product. Add the effort and timescales up for all of the Products in the Stage and you have the estimate for the effort and the timescales for the Stage Plan. OK, so it’s not exactly that easy and as the Project Manager you must continually challenge the estimates for any extra contingency being introduced by the Team but it’s almost that easy to get accurate estimates of effort and timescales. Follow the Process.
Remember, breaking the activity down to its various low level Tasks and then estimating the Tasks provides you with a much more accurate estimate of effort than any other way of estimating.
Richard is a project manager, professional speaker, author and consultant specializing in Project Management, Leadership, Achievement and Customer Service.
You can book Richard for your next meeting or conference at firstname.lastname@example.org or 336 499 6677.
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