Strategies to Improve Project Estimation
Regardless of your efforts to plan for and thoughtfully assign resources, a number of factors can contribute to inefficient project execution and delays. Lack of proper prioritization, resource availability, or a worldwide pandemic to name a few. According to the Resource Management & Capacity Planning study conducted by Appleseed, one of the top perceived pain points is project estimation. Project Estimation impacts organizations with resource management practices across the maturity spectrum (Wondering where your organization falls on the spectrum? Take our Resource Management quiz).
Here are some strategies for improving your project estimates:
Traditional vs Agile - strategically think about your project and determine which approach makes the most sense for that individual project. If you have defined requirements, then take the traditional approach and estimate the schedule and cost based on those requirements. If you have a strict budget and schedule then estimate the functionality you can provide within that budget and schedule. Sometimes it might even make sense to take a hybrid approach. Each project is different so consider the approach you want to take before estimating your project.
Tiered Estimates - consider presenting a pessimistic estimate, a normal estimate, and an optimistic estimate. In some industries, this is already standard practice, but in other industries where projects are just as unpredictable, it's not. Take it a step further and base your range on the type of project. If it's a project that is predictable and you've done many times then the accuracy range could be +/- 10%. If it's a unique project with a lot of uncertainty and risk then you might want to use a +/- 50% accuracy range. If offering a range of estimates is out of the question, then consider using the PERT method which takes a weighted average toward the most likely estimate.
PERT = (Pessimistic Estimate + Optimistic Estimate + 4 * Most Likely Estimate) / 6
Resource Availability - once you have identified the resources, tasks, and task duration for a project, adjust the project schedule based on resource availability. If your assigned resources aren't available to do the work then either the project will be delayed, other projects will be impacted, you'll have unhappy overworked resources, or all of the above.
Lucky for you, TaskRay with Flux Capacity can layer forecasted projects with active projects so you can easily determine team and individual availability and model various resource assignment scenarios to determine impacts to resource utilization. Learn more about Flux Capacity's Resource Forecasting feature here.
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