~ By Adele Sommers
Projects typically involve many dynamic aspects, yet they're often constrained by finite conditions. These contradictory forces make it very difficult to determine with pinpoint accuracy the time and effort required. By using a set of proactive estimating techniques to scope, plan, and constrain your project conditions, you can dramatically improve your estimating practices, reduce and mitigate risks, and increase your project success rate.
Do you excel at predicting the time, funding, and resources your projects will require?
Whether your company aims to develop a new product or service, update an existing system, or launch a new Web site, these undertakings will require people, schedules, funding, resources, requirements, testing, revising, implementation, evaluation, and many other elements.
You may have seen this phenomenon already: projects are risk magnets. Why is that?
The possible reasons include the fact that projects typically involve many dynamic aspects, yet they're often constrained by finite conditions. These opposing forces make it very challenging to identify with great accuracy the time and effort required, and can result in many budget and schedule "collisions" during the life of the project.
When my clients or colleagues invariably ask,
How long do you think this effort might take? I usually experience a knee-jerk reaction. Instinctively, a part of my brain that once excelled at solving math problems on timed quizzes goes into overdrive. "I know the answer!" it screams.
Yet, unless that project or task is something I've performed many times before - under very similar conditions each time, and with good records of my actual hours spent - providing an accurate estimate can be quite elusive. As I strive to imagine all of the stages and steps of a process, as well as fathom the unknown variables or things that could go awry, it's no wonder that I hardly ever guess 100% correctly, particularly for new endeavours.
Did you know that estimating is an invaluable tool for anticipating and managing these project uncertainties?
When we can identify our cost and schedule requirements with relative precision, it reduces the risk of running out of time, resources, and budget during a project.
Yet with all of the emphasis we place on creating accurate estimates and bids, we still seem to have difficulty developing realistic predictions of our time and effort. If we look carefully at the evidence, I believe we'll find three basic, underlying clues to the reasons for our challenges with estimating:
To remedy these shortcomings, below are 12 ideas for boosting the accuracy of your estimates:
In conclusion, by using a set of proactive estimating techniques to scope, plan, and constrain your project conditions, you can dramatically improve your estimating practices, reduce and mitigate risks, and greatly increase your project success rate!
Adele Sommers, Ph.D. is the author of the award-winning "Straight Talk on Boosting Business Performance" programme. She helps people "discover and recover" the profits their businesses may be losing every day through overlooked performance potential. To sign up for more free tips, visit her site at LearnShareProsper.com