Estimating, as we know, is the process by which we attempt to determine how long our project will take and how much it will cost. Estimating is a very difficult business and a top reason for project management and project failure. As project managers we’re about as good as our last estimates, illustrated by this sobering graph representing time and cost:
A recent PMI survey revealed that the top measures of project management success still include “completed on time” and “completed within budget”. So, like it or not, our performance as project managers is considerably determined by estimates. Hence the expression “deadlines.” Of course the answer is not simply to add some arbitrary fat, since this practice may then preclude our project from selection or deny other worthwhile projects the light of day. Nor should we deliberately under estimate in order to get our project approved.
Of course, ‘gut-feel’ is not the most accurate method of estimating. Our project stakeholders usually prefer we employ a more rational approach, even if we are brilliant intuitive estimators. Estimators need to be trained. To succeed as project managers we need to be able to negotiate realistic budgets and completion dates.
If this discipline interests you, I can deliver a practical training programme, typically of one day’s duration, that will dramatically improve your project team’s estimating prowess. Click here for some slides to whet your appetite.