Thursday, August 19, 2010

Your project estimates are always wrong - and here's why

eCameron, posted a great piece about the problems with giving estimates for your projects. More often than not, your estimate will be wrong - but why? According to the article, good estimates need to be looked at as a set, rather than individually. If each estimate is graded on its own merits without regard to the system they are in, then we are really treating them as quotes.

In the article, readers are given three different scenarios involving estimates. We encourage you and your team to use these estimates as part of your next team-building exercise.

Does this sound familiar?

From the article, unfortunately, managers often take estimates as quotes. They reprimand for people being a day late (for obvious reasons) and if the delivery is early, the expectation is that all tasks will be early since there was obvious pad. People have no choice but to pad their estimates heavily and to continue to perfect the deliverable until the delivery date is reached. The perfectly timed delivery averts the punitive response from management. Always on time, what could be better? Unfortunately, this develops a schedule that is severely longer than needed. Therefore, there is no sense of urgency, people start their tasks late, work on other tasks (thinking they have plenty of time) and eventually have difficulty making the deadline. Huge amounts of time and money are wasted.

Thinking about your team's structure, how do estimates and quotes differ? As a manager, what techniques do you implement to ensure on-time and on budget delivery of project goals?

Why Estimates Are Always Wrong

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