Project Schedule: Best Scheduler Techniques

Dick Billows, PMP
Dick Billows, PMP
CEO 4pm.com

Every project manager does project scheduling. For a project that you can do in a day, a yellow note pad is often enough.  When there are others doing some of the work, an Excel spreadsheet may work to plan everyone’s dates and dollars. When the team reaches 4-5 people and the duration is more than a couple of weeks, PC software specifically designed for project scheduling and budget control is most efficient.

Project Schedule: Data

Some project managers have very little data to help them successfully managing their projects, deal with change orders or respond to variances. They may not even know when they have a variance.  The key to identifying problems is getting estimate-to-complete information from your team and vendors.

Project managers who receive that data are able to quickly gather information about problems and opportunities. The key to their success is that they find out about problems early, before the problem causes a due date to slip. Here are the keys. First, you must get information on every  task that is in process. Second, you must know how much work has been completed and how much remains.  This allows you to forecast the project completion date and the total expense on all the tasks. You can control any variances, handle change requests and take corrective action early and easily. You can use project scheduling software to optimize your schedules. In this article we’ll show you how to do all these things.

Project Schedule: Software

Previously, project managers didn’t use project management software because of the high cost and the amount of time required to learn how to use it.  Those two excuses are no longer valid. There are some adequate project management software programs that are free and easy to learn. It only takes 30 to 40 minutes to learn how to use the software through the entire project lifecycle.  Gantter is a free program available with your Gmail account. There are editions for smart phones, tablets and desktops. This software provides all the capabilities you need for small and medium-size projects. The learning curve is short considering the benefit you get. Project Schedule & Software Main Page

More capable software for larger project scheduling includes Microsoft Project®. It is almost $600 but provides more capabilities and a tremendous amount of decision-making data. It includes the ability to do budgeproject schedulingting and cost tracking and also manage multiple projects. These features are adequate for even large projects. You will need to invest a few hours of time to learn it.

Now lets talk about how a project manager using a yellow note pad, an Excel spreadsheet, or project scheduling software would handle three common situations.

Project Schedule: Finish Date, Changes & Status

The project manager doing project scheduling with a yellow note pad can quickly tell the client the finish date by using his or her ability to pick a number out of the sky. There is no basis for this completion date other than a guess about how long the project will take. This “yellow pad project manager” makes a similar guess about the cost. Projects scheduled on yellow pads usually finish late and cost more than anticipated. This means the project manager and their company lose money if they’re doing a project for a customer or client. This project manager uses the same approach when the customer wants to change the project or the deliverable. The project manager guesses about the impact the change will have on the finish date and the cost. And they are usually wrong. The yellow note pad project scheduling technique gives project managers a very limited career future.

The PM doing project scheduling with an Excel spreadsheet does a bit better. He or she enters start and finish dates for all the tasks they can think of. Then they let the program give them an idea of how many days or weeks it will take to complete those tasks. The problem with using Excel spreadsheets for project scheduling is that if the client wants to make a change, the project manager has to redo the entire spreadsheet. The same is true if the client adds a task or alters a finish date. The “Excel spreadsheet project manager” spends endless hours laboring over their PC instead of managing the project.

The project manager who uses project scheduling software does the best of all. If they are using the software correctly and following best practices, they base the project schedule and budget on work estimates. Instead of picking a finish date with a Ouija board, this project manager works with historical data, published estimating information, and the opinions of the project team members. They use this data to build a schedule based on estimates of the amount of work required. When project managers use work estimates, they gain all the benefits of the project scheduling software.  They decide how much work each team member can do and the project scheduling software will assign the work to the team members so the project finishes as soon as possible. These calculations take the software about two seconds. This project manager can work with similar speed on a change request. They merely change the amount of work for the task(s) the client wants to alter. Then a nano second later, the software re-schedules the entire project and gives the project manager a new completion date reflecting the change request. If the project manager has entered hourly rates for the team members and the material costs, the software will also calculate a budget and give the project manager data on the cost of that change request.

Finally, this project manager can give accurate status reports based on the team’s estimates of the amount of work they still have to complete on their tasks. This lets the project manager anticipate problems early, not after getting hit in the face with them. There is a very good reason consistently successful project managers use project scheduling software. It allows them to spend their time managing the team and solving problems. They don’t have to spend their time making guesses or laboring over an Excel spreadsheet or a yellow note pad.

Project Schedule: Optimizing the Schedule

Too many project managers control the sequence of tasks in their projects using the start and finish dates. Instead, they should use project scheduling software with predecessor relationships. For example, these relationships tell the software that Task B can’t start until Task A is finished.  Or that Task A and Task B must finish at the same time. Entering start and finish dates wastes an enormous amount of time during the original creation of the schedule and every week after that. Project managers who don’t use project scheduling software with predecessor relationships spend hours updating their schedules and changing all the start and finish dates.  Even worse, the schedules they create with this fixed date technique almost always have longer durations than they should. However, project managers can experience these problems even if they use project scheduling software like Microsoft Project®. This happens if they use start and finish dates to control the sequence of tasks instead of  using predecessor relationships.

Project Schedule: Increase Efficiency

Predecessor relationships are the key to building dynamic schedules. These are schedules that update themselves whenever you make a change.  As an example, if you discover that Task D is going to finish two weeks early, or two weeks late, you merely enter that fact into your project scheduling software. It will automatically change the start and finish dates for every one of Task D’s successor tasks (the tasks that depend on Task D).  The alternative is to manually change each task’s finish date. Using predecessor relationships saves you hours in the initial project scheduling and significant time every week for the duration of the project.  That is reason enough to use this project scheduling technique.  How To Use Dynamic Project Scheduling

Project Schedule: Finish Earlier

Using dynamic scheduling, you set up our predecessors in the software by identifying the type of relationships that each task has with its predecessors and successors.  There are three types of predecessor relationships:

  • Finish-to-Start predecessor relationship between Tasks A and B is scheduled by the software so that Task B starts after Task A is finished.  You’ll use this type of predecessor 85% of the time. That is why it is the default in project scheduling software.
  • Finish-to-Finish predecessor relationship between Tasks A and B is scheduled by the software so that these two tasks start at the time that’s required for both of them to finish at the same time.
  • Start-to-Start predecessor relationship between asks A and B is scheduled by the software so that these two tasks start at exactly the same time.

You can get fancier with predecessors by using leads and lags.  But these three types are the basics and are a great way to get started.

Project Schedule: Parallelism and Concurrency 

You make a project take less time to finish when you sequence the tasks by building in parallelism. This means you have many things happening at the same time.  It makes sense that if a project has three or four tasks going on at the same time it will finish earlier than a project that has only one task happening at a time.  In other words, you don’t want the whole project to be a long sequence of FinishtoStart relationships.  Instead you want to design the predecessor relationships for each of your major deliverables so as many tasks as possible are occurring at the same time.  The simplest way to create parallelism using the project scheduling software is to give a task multiple successors.  Whenever you can do that, you will shorten the project duration.  A parallel design is always going to take less time than scheduling those three tasks to occur one after another.

There are obvious limits on parallelism, such as limits on how much work a person can do and the technical or physical dependencies between tasks (e.g.: the materials must be delivered before they can be installed).  But using predecessor relationships lets you avoid unnecessarily long task sequences. That makes reporting and updating faster and saves you hours of time.

Take a look at our online Project Management Basics course where you can learn these techniques from an expert PM. In this instructor-led online training you have as many phone calls, e-mails and live video conferences with your instructor as you need.

Project Estimator – How to Play the Commitment Game

Dick Billows, PMPProject estimators know how to play the commitment game. The sponsor wants commitments from the PM very early in the project. The process is often political and involves much more than numbers. The Project estimators play the estimating game properly and don’t get caught committing to numbers that have a low probability of success.

Let’s look at some of the games surrounding project estimates and then discuss what the Project Estimator should do. In the real world, estimating a project’s duration and cost is a high stakes game. The client or executive wants an accurate estimate of the project costs and duration with a commitment from the PM to hit those numbers.When asked for those project estimates by an executive during the initiation process, a project manager may answer with any of the following Project Estimator Tactics:

  1. I’m 60% confident that we can finish the project within a duration range of 3-8 months and a cost between $50,000 and $250,000.
  2. We’ll be done in 5 months or so and the cost will come in at about $110,000, but that’s just a rough guess!
  3. I will have no idea until we detail the deliverables, estimate the work and find out how many people I will have to do that work.
  4. When do you want us to finish and what’s the budget?

Answer #1 – It’s truthful but enrages executives.
Answer #2 – Executives quickly forget “rough guess” and are happy.
Answer #3 – It’s the whole truth but it’s useless for executives.
Answer #4 – It’s very ingratiating but a project deathtrap.

Which choice do most project managers make? Choice #2. It deals with the reality of the situation. Executives are under the gun to make cost/benefit and priority decisions about projects. There are also strategic realities that force certain completion dates on everyone.

The project estimator is caught in a narrow vise when asked to provide estimates, particularly when the scope of the project is vague and the availability of resources is largely unknown. Project Estimator Tactics are a must. That’s how we make this situation a little better for everyone with a four-step estimating process that we announce during the initiation process. We explain the estimates executives will receive in each of four stages in the project lifecycle.project estimator

The Four Stage Project Estimates Process with Project Estimator Tactics

  1. Initiating: Project level analogous estimates based on similar projects.
  2. Early in planning: Project level and major deliverable analogous estimates.
  3. Final project planning: Bottom up estimates from the team members.
  4. Weekly status reporting: Rolling estimates weekly until completion.

Let’s look at a four stage estimating process that we might use on a very simple project. An executive invites you into the conference room and says, “All these weekly reports from the branches come in with different data in different formats and I want you to develop a consistent template, pronto. This is a high priority for me and you’ll get everyone’s cooperation. Listen, I have to run to a meeting right now but come back at 3:00. I want to know when you and your team can get it done.”

So the PM thinks through prior experiences with similar projects and accesses the archives for similar project estimates. At 3:00 the project manager is ready and says, “During the project I will give you 4 different estimates. The accuracy will get better and better as we know more and more. The best I can do now is give you a project-level, order of magnitude estimate based on prior experience. I’m 60% confident we can have that done in 18 to 35 working days.”

The executive gives the PM a poisonous look and says, “Okay, come back when you can give me a better estimate.”

The PM says, “I can give you a better estimate as soon as we have finalized the scope and major deliverables and you have signed off on what you want.”

The executive frowns and replies, “I was planning to delegate that.”

The PM smiles, “I would still need a sponsor’s signature on the scope and deliverables.”

The executive nods glumly, “OK lets get to it tomorrow at 8:00 am.”

After the following day’s 8:00 o’clock session, the executive frowns at the PM and asks, “Now, how long will the project take?”

The PM looks over the notes on a yellow pad and says, “At this point, I can give you a better project-level estimate. We’re still working top-down based on similar projects, but I can give you a somewhat tighter estimate and also apply some ratios to that so I can give you project estimates on each phase. I’m 75% confident we can finish in 23-30 working days. Using my experience and the ratios between phases on previous projects, I can also say that I’m 75% confident on the following phase estimates:

  1. Branch office managers sign off on requirements: 4-7 days
  2. Development test – Test group can complete the template < 60 minutes: 5-8 days
  3. Training- User can complete template in 45 minutes: 4-5 days
  4. Roll-out and enforcement – 95% compliance: 10-15 days.”

The executive scowls again and asks, “When will I get better numbers?”

The PM answers, “As soon as I detail the work estimates and get commitments on the people here at headquarters and in all the branches. Then, I can give you a bottom-up estimate, which will be more precise than the top-down estimates we’ve been using. Bottom-up is more accurate because I’ll be using estimates from the people who will be doing the work and aggregating them into the overall numbers.”

A few days later, the PM returns to the executive’s office and says, “Here’s the bottom-up estimate I mentioned. With the work breakdown structure done and the resource commitments I’ve noted, I’m 60% certain we can finish within 24-28 working days.”

The executive gives another slightly less venomous sigh and says, “Okay, this is getting better but I’d still like really tight project estimates.”

The PM nods and says, “The fourth type of estimate I’ll be giving you is a rolling weekly estimate. As we progress further into the process, the uncertainty will decrease and I’ll regularly give you new estimates. We call these rolling estimates. As an example, once the requirements are approved the uncertainty in the development work will go down a lot and that estimate will get much tighter.”

Are These Project Estimates and Project Estimator Tactics Statistical Hocus Pocus?

The simple four-step process we’ve gone through illustrated how a project manager gave project estimates and changed estimating techniques as the uncertainty about the project declined. In the example, the PM used analogous estimates based on information about previous projects. Next working top-down, the PM estimated by major deliverable using ratios from previous projects. However, this information could have come from an organizational project databank, from commercial estimating methodologies or from elaborate statistical analysis of previous projects. Whatever the source of the data, the top-down estimates provided relatively broad ranges in the overall estimates.

In the third and fourth estimating techniques, the PM used the work breakdown structure and duration/work estimating techniques at the level of individual assignments. Then the numbers got a lot better because the PM could use a bottom-up approach and aggregate the estimates of project team members to develop the overall project estimate. In this bottom-up approach, the PM based the estimate on the team member’s own estimates for their individual assignments. The fourth estimate type was the rolling estimates, also based on a bottom up approach, with the team members making regular weekly re-estimates of their work/duration. As we complete tasks, the uncertainty decreases each week and the estimates become more accurate.

The one consistent thread through each of the steps was that our PM had the benefit of a clear and unambiguous scope definition and equally measurable outcomes for each of the deliverables and assignments in the project. Estimating is difficult enough without the burden of a vague project scope or mushy team member assignments.

Enterprise Project Estimates Project Estimator Tactics

A major step to consistent project success and vastly improved project estimates comes from a modest investment in archiving data from previous projects. This whole estimating process becomes more effective when the organization stops playing those fantasy games with project estimates and adopts a consistent methodology for developing the kind of “better and more accurate” estimates we’ve been discussing.

To learn more about these estimating techniques consider our advanced project management courses over the Internet as well as our in-person seminars for organizations.

3 Point Project Estimating: Padding, Accuracy, Commitment

Dick Billows, PMPEstimating is tricky for project managers who have to balance conflicting pressures from the sponsor, stakeholders and their team:

  • The customer or user wants the project done quickly and cheaply.
  • You, as PM, want to finish on time and within budget.
  • For commitment, the team needs to participate in a process their perceive as fair and not feel like they are sure to fail because their estimate is impossible.
  • The estimating technique should yield accurate numbers and some assessment of the accuracy.
  • Decision makers need information of the certainty of the project finishing on time

That list of requirements is a tough one for any project estimating process. The only process that meets all those requirements is 3-point estimating, which formerly called PERT (Program Evaluation and Review Technique).

Briefly, 3-point estimating has three-steps.  In each, the PM works closely with the people who will be doing the work. The first step is to discuss the deliverable the team member will be accountable for producing. This discussion includes the “good” risks that could cause this task to take less work and the “bad” risks that could cause it to take more work. Second, the PM notes these risks on the work package form that also contains the approach the team member will use. Third, the team member makes three estimates: an optimistic estimate, a pessimistic estimate and a best guess estimate. The PM applies the 3-point formulas (at the end of the article) to those three estimates to come up with the actual data that you will use in the project schedule.

Common Estimating & Risk Issues

Two mindsets often plague the estimating process:

  • Executives often believe that projects have no risks that affect duration or budget.
  • Team members think that padding their estimates will protect them from blame.

Both of these mindsets are false but they certainly get in the way of accurate estimating.

The 3-point estimating technique deals with both these mindsets. It gives PMs a data to communicate the risk of a work estimate. It also lets everyone stop pretending that task #135 is going to finish in precisely 15 days or that the project will absolutely finish by August 30.  Three-point estimating is a straightforward process for developing estimates using just a little bit of statistics. It gives you a tool to address the issue that most projects are launched with less than a 35 % chance of finishing by their promised due date.  Because no one talks about that issue, executives think the completion date is 100% guaranteed. It’s only missed when someone goofs off.

The best project managers have risk data for their sponsors.  They can document why a project has a 65% chance of finishing by August 30, as an example. These PMs also explain what they can do to increase those odds to 75% or 90% and what it will cost. Those same PMs manage the assignments of their project team members with an understanding that there is risk on each assignment. They use 3-point estimating techniques to get data on the risks.

Three Point Estimating in Detail

The 3-point estimating process starts with a discussion with the team member about the risks inherent in their assignment. You discuss the bad risks that will make their assignment take more work and duration (time). You also discuss the good risks that will cause it to take less work and duration (time). Why should you do this step? Because you need an estimating process that addresses the team member’s legitimate concern that bad things will happen on their assignment and they’ll be blamed for not meeting the completion date.  With agreement on the risks in the assignment and work package notes what you will do about them, you go on to the estimates work and duration.

As the name implies, 3-point estimating requires three estimates for each task. That sounds like it will take a lot of work but it takes a matter of minutes.  You and the team member develop an optimistic estimate, a pessimistic estimate and a best guess estimate for each task. By developing those three estimates, we get estimates that are more accurate from team members and assess the assignment’s degree of risk and the range of durations.

Padding Estimates

Before we go on, we need to talk a little bit about risk. When you ask me how long it will take to read this article, I might estimate five minutes. Am I guaranteeing you that no matter what happens I’ll be able to read the whole thing in five minutes? No, what I mean is that 5 minutes is my best guess. That means there is a 50% chance it will take me less than five minutes and a 50% chance it will take me more than five minutes.

However, if you were my project manager asking me for a task estimate, I would be a little hesitant about giving you an estimate in which there was a 50% chance of an overrun. What I would rather give you is an estimate where I’m 90% confident that I can finish in that amount of time or less. As the project manager, you would probably regard that estimate as padded. As the team member, I feel more comfortable with a 90% estimate. Unfortunately, there is no consistency in the amount of padding your team members will use.

Reducing Padding

You want your team members to leave the estimating process knowing that you considered the fact that things can go wrong on a task assignment. That’s why you identified risks at the beginning of the discussion and documented what you could do about the risks. With that recognition of the risks, we move on to gathering data on the impact those risks could have on the assignment. Using the three estimates enables you to do that. It’s better than having a team member give you a single estimate and play the padding game about how certain that estimate is. The three estimates tell you the variability in the task.

Best Guess, Optimistic and Pessimistic Estimates

Now let’s start the estimating process.  Your team member estimates that a task has a best guess estimate of 80 hours of work.  That means that 50% of the time it will take more work and 50% of the time it will take less.

Next, the optimistic work estimate is less work than the best guess.  The optimistic estimate is low enough that the team member thinks they can get the task done for less than the optimistic estimate only 20% of the time.  The task will require more work than the optimistic estimate 80% of the time.

The pessimistic estimate is more work than the best guess. It is not a “disaster” estimate but we want an estimate that’s based on the bad risks that we identified happening.  The pessimistic estimate is high enough that the team member thinks they can get the task done for less than the pessimistic estimate 80% of the time.  The task will require more work than the pessimistic estimate 20% of the time.

Now let’s dip our toe into the statistics and look at two tasks, Alpha and Beta, and the calculated work estimates we would use at three different level of confidence (* see formulas below).

What we did was take the three estimates and use some simple formulas to calculate the task’s work estimates and calculate the mean and standard deviation.  Using standard statistical tables (z-scores from a table of standardized normal deviates); we can take those means and standard deviations and use them to calculate levels of confidence of finishing within the estimate.  In other words, for task Alpha we could say that we have a 50% chance of completing the task with less than 54 hours of work.  For an 80% confidence level, we would calculate that 69 hours of work would be required.  This is the data to use with a client or project sponsor to quantify the cost of higher levels of certainty about a completion date. In the previous example with Alpha, we have to buy an additional 15 hours of work to move from 50% confidence to 80% confidence of getting the task done within the work estimate.  The beta is much less risky task than alpha. The mean work estimates are very close but the standard deviations are very different. To move from the 50% level of confidence that is 50 hours on task beta we would need to increase the work estimate to 51 hours. So for task beta higher levels of certainty a relatively inexpensive. Extending these calculations to the entire project is very easy with a spreadsheet such as the one we use in our classes. It gives project managers the ability to discuss the cost of higher levels of certainty. Sponsors always say they want to be 90% confident of finishing on time. When you present them with the cost of that level of certainty, it often is the case that lower levels of confidence would be acceptable.

Using 3-Point Estimates

All of the better project management software packages, such as Microsoft Project®, enable you to use 3-point (PERT) estimates and create a variety of reports that communicate the project’s risks. You can take estimates like those above and calculate the odds of finishing the entire project within various durations.  That information is a solid basis for a discussion with the sponsor about the tradeoffs between cost, scope, duration, risk and staffing levels.

To learn these 3-point estimating techniques and the entire estimating process, consider our private, online courses where you work individually with your instructor. They are available by phone, video conference or e-mail whenever you have a question or need help on an assignment. We can also deliver a customized training program at your site for up to 25 people. Call us at 303-596-0000 and speak to an instructor.

*Three point estimating Formulas

Mean= (4*bg)+OE+PE/6

SD= (PE-OE)/6

Probability level = work= Mean + (z-score for probability)*SD

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Time Estimation Mistakes – Video

Dick Billows, PMP
Dick Billows, PMP
CEO 4pm.com
Dick’s Books on Amazon

Project managers must make time estimates at the beginning of every project because the sponsor needs to know when the project will be done. The sponsor wants to be sure the project manager will meet their due date expectation. “When are you going to be done?” is probably the the question that’s asked most often in project management.  Time estimation includes the amount of work and the amount of time (duration) required for the team members’ assignments. They are probably the most important estimates and they have to be accurate. There is a tremendous advantage if the team members participate in the time estimation process. When the team members participate in making the estimate and they think the estimate is fair, they have a commitment to finishing their work within that time. Adding all the estimates from the individual team member assignments up to the final deliverable is called “Bottom up”  time estimation. The accuracy of the time estimates is a major determinant of a project manager’s credibility with upper management, stakeholders and the project team.

Time Estimation Mistakes Video

The video shows a technique for time estimation that 60% of project managers use. But it is the wrong way. It creates time estimates that no one believes so no one is committed to them. After you watch the project manager work with the team, you’ll go behind-the-scenes and hear what the team members say about their time estimation session. You’ll also hear from the project sponsor about the completion date he set. Then I will give you my assessment of what happened, the impact on the team members, the level of commitment they have to their dates and how the project manager should have done things. I hope you enjoy it.

Bad Estimating Process

You can learn to use several time estimation techniques in our online project management courses. You’ll work privately and individually with a expert project manager. You control the schedule and pace and have as many phone calls and live video conferences as you wish.  Take a look at the course in your specialty.

 

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How To Do 3 Point Estimating

It is worth learning how to do 3 point estimating because it is the best technique for developing estimates with your project team members. It is called 3 point estimating because the team member provides their pessimistic, optimistic and best guess estimates for their deliverable. It is also called PERT which stands for Program Evaluation and Review Technique. This estimating technique is a best practice because it gives project managers three benefits:

  1. Increased accuracy over one-point estimates

    Dick Billows, PMP
    Dick Billows, PMP
    CEO 4pm.com
    Dick’s Books on Amazon
  2. Better commitment from the project team members because the estimate considers the risk in the assignment
  3. Useful information on the risks of each task.

3 Point Estimating is a 3-Step Process

1. First, you work with the team member assigned to each task and identify both the positive and negative risks involved in their task. Negative risks are the things that could make it take more time and positive risks are the things that could make it take less time.

2. Next you ask the team member to make three estimates. The first is a best guess (BG) which is the average amount of work the task might take if the team member performed it 100 times. The second estimate is the pessimistic (P) estimate which is the amount of work the task might take if the negative factors they identified do occur. The third estimate is the optimistic (O) estimate which is the amount of work the task might take if the positive risks they identified do occur.

3. Then you do some simple mathematics with the three estimates. You calculate the mean and standard deviation using the 3-point estimation formulas: (O + 4BG + P) ÷ 6= the weighted mean and P-O/6 = the standard deviation (used for calculating probabilities). The weighted mean estimate from the three estimates the team member gave you is the one you use for their task. It reflects the amount of risk in the task and the severity of the impact of the optimistic and pessimistic risks.

Teaching Your Team 3 Point Estimating

By having this discussion about the risks in the task, you give the team member an opportunity for input into the estimating process. You also go way beyond the game-playing that typically surrounds making an estimate using a single number. Typically, team members are thinking about that single number and padding it as much as they possibly can. They know from experience that the project manager will probably cut it arbitrarily. That’s clearly not the way to get good estimates.

When you use the 3 point estimating technique, you record all three estimates in the team member’s work3-point estimating package as well as the positive and negative risks that were identified. This clearly communicates to our team members and the project sponsor that the estimates are not 100% certain. There are risks you have considered that could affect the amount of time the task will take. This approach removes some of the team members’ uncertainty (and often fear) that is associated with the estimating process.

3 Point Estimating Accuracy

The 3 point estimating technique gives you better data because you’re explicitly considering risks. You learn about the risks of a task early in the process from the person who will be doing the work. That knowledge gives you the opportunity to take corrective actions before you start work on the project. That increases the likelihood of the good risks and decreases the likelihood of the bad risks.

As an example, if a team member says that on previous assignments involving a certain department in the company, the amount of work in the task increased substantially. That was because supervisors and managers from that department repeatedly failed to come to project planning meetings. Knowing that, you would take steps to encourage that department to attend the planning meetings. You might even involve the project sponsor to gain the department supervisors’ and managers’ commitment to attend the meetings. If you can reduce the likelihood of negative risks, you take a big step toward accurately estimating the work and improving our project’s duration. Which is the best Estimation Technique?

To learn more estimating skills,  consider our online project management courses. You work privately with a expert project manager. You control the schedule and pace and have as many phone calls and live video conferences as you wish.  Take a look at the courses in your specialty at 4pm.com

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3 Point Estimating – PERT

Dick Billows, PMP
Dick Billows, PMP
CEO 4pm.com
Dick’s Books on Amazon

Estimating is tricky for project managers because the customer wants the project to be done quickly and cheaply. You want your team to be committed to the numbers because they are realistic and fair. On top of that, everyone is concerned with the risk that exists on any project. So the best estimating technique should give you accurate numbers and some assessment of the risk in the tasks and the project as a whole. The best approach is to quantify the estimate and the risk of not hitting it. We use the 3 point estimating technique, or PERT which comes from the NASA space program, to do this.

This process lets you estimate work and duration with the team members and hear about the risks they see on their assignments. It also lets you give project sponsors the opportunity to decide what level of risk they want to accept on the project. Then you can quantify the additional costs that would be incurred to reduce the risks to a lower level.

The 3 point estimating process or PERT, which stands for Project Evaluation and Review Technique, is a three-step process where you discuss the team member’s task and risks. This includes the good risks that could cause this task to take less work and the bad risks that could cause it to take more work. Second, you note these risks in a work package and discuss the approach to the task with the team member. Third, the team member makes three estimates: an optimistic estimate, a pessimistic estimate and a best guess estimate. You apply the formulas* (at the end of this article) to those three estimates to come up with the actual data that you will use in the project schedule.

Common Estimating & Risk Issues

There are two mindsets that often cause trouble in the estimating process:

  • Executives believe that projects have no risk
  • Team members think that padding their estimates will protect them from blame.

Both of these mindsets are false and they  get in the way of accurate estimatingThe 3 point estimating technique or PERT deals with both these mindsets. Three point estimating is a straightforward process for developing estimates using a little bit of statistics.  It gives you a tool to quantitatively communicate about the risk of a task’s estimate.  It lets you stop pretending that task #135 is going to finish in precisely 15 days or that the project will absolutely finish by August 30. It also lets you address the issue that most projects are launched with less than a 35% chance of finishing by their promised due date. Because no one talks about that issue, executives think the completion date is 100% guaranteed. They believe the completion date is only missed when someone goofs off.

As an example, the best project managers tell sponsors that a project has a 65% chance of finishing by Analogous EstimatingAugust 30. These PMs also explain what they can do to improve those odds to 75% or 90% and what it will cost. Those PMs manage the assignments of their project team members with an understanding that there is risk on each assignment. They use 3 point estimating, PERT, techniques to get accurate numbers and reflect the risk.

3 Point Estimating or PERT Process

The 3 point estimating process starts with a discussion with the team member about the risks in their task assignment. You discuss the bad risks that will make their task take more work and more time. You also discuss the good risks that will cause it to take less work and time. Why should you do this step? Because you need an estimating process that addresses the team member’s legitimate concern that bad things will happen on their assignment and they’ll be blamed for not meeting the completion date.

Let’s talk a little bit about risk. When you ask me how long it will take to read this newsletter, I might estimate five minutes. Am I guaranteeing you that no matter what happens you’ll be able to read the whole thing in five minutes? No. What I mean is that 5 minutes is my best guess. That means there is a 50% chance it will take you less than five minutes and a 50% chance it will take you more than five minutes.

But if you are my project manager and you ask me for a task estimate, I would be a little hesitant to give you an estimate with a 50% chance of an overrun. What I would rather give you is an estimate where I’m 90% confident that I can finish in that much time or less. As the project manager, you would probably regard that estimate as padded. As the team member, I feel more comfortable with a 90% estimate. Unfortunately, there is no consistency in the amount of padding your team members do.

You want your team members to leave the estimating process knowing that you considered the fact that things can go wrong on a task assignment. Using the three estimates enables you to do that. It’s better than
having a team member give you a single estimate and play the padding game about how certain that estimate is. The three estimates tell you the variability in the task.

3 Point Estimating: Best Guess, Optimistic and Pessimistic Estimates

With agreement on the risks in the task assignment, you go on to ask for the team member’s estimates of work and duration (time). As the name implies, 3 point estimating requires three estimates for each task. That sounds like it will take a lot of work but it takes a matter of minutes.  You and the team member develop an optimistic estimate, a pessimistic estimate and a best guess estimate for each task. In developing those three estimates, we get more accurate estimates from team members and assess the task’s degree of risk and the range of durations.

If your team member estimates that a task has a best guess estimate of 80 hours of work, that means that 50% of the time it will take more work and 50% of the time it will take less work.

Next, the optimistic work estimate is that it will take less work than the best guess.  It is not a perfect world estimate but you want an estimate that’s based on the good risks you identified coming to pass.  The optimistic estimate is low enough that the team member thinks they can get the task done for less than the optimistic estimate 20% of the time.  The task will require more work than the optimistic estimate 80% of the time.

The pessimistic estimate is that it will take more work than the best guess. It is not a “disaster” estimate but you want an estimate that’s based on the bad risks they identified coming to pass.  The pessimistic estimate is high enough that the team member thinks they can get the task done for less than the pessimistic estimate 80% of the time.  The task will require more work than the pessimistic estimate 20% of the time.

Now let’s dip our toe into the statistics and look at two tasks, Alpha and Beta, and the calculated work estimates you would use at three different levels of confidence.

You take the three estimates and use the following simple formulas to calculate the task’s work estimate for a certain level of confidence of finishing within the estimate.

Mean=(4*BG)+OE+PE/6.  The mean is 4 times the best guess + the optimistic guess + the pessimistic guess divided by 6.

SD=(PE-OE)/6.  The standard deviation is the pessimistic guess minus the optimistic guess divided by 6.

Probability level = work= Mean +(z-score for probability)*SD

For task Alpha you can be 80% confident with an 82.2 hour estimate. But task Beta, with optimistic and pessimistic estimates that are further from the best guess than Alpha, will require an 88.7 hour estimate to reach the 80% confidence level.

Using 3 Point Estimating or PERT 

All of the better project management software packages, such as Microsoft Project®, enable you to use 3 point , PERT, estimates and create a variety of reports that communicate the project’s risks. You can take estimates like those above and calculate the odds of finishing the entire project within various durations.  That information is a solid basis for a discussion with the sponsor about the tradeoffs between cost, scope, duration, risk and resources.

To learn these 3 point estimating or PERT techniques and the entire estimating process, consider our private, online courses where you work individually with your instructor. They are available by phone, video conference or e-mail whenever you have a question or need help on an assignment. We can also deliver a customized training program at your site for up to 25 people. Call us at 303-596-0000.

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Order of Magnitude Estimates: How to Calculate & Present Them

Dick Billows, PMP
Dick Billows, PMP
CEO 4pm.com
Dick’s Books on Amazon

Order of Magnitude (OOM) Estimates are rough guesses made at the very beginning of the project. At this time not much is known about the project and everything can change as planning progresses. Order of magnitude estimates use historical project data with analogous mathematics. The numbers are calculated for the whole project, not for individual tasks or major deliverables.  They are usually expressed as a range, like “$150,000 – $200,00 cost and 125 – 160 days of duration.”  Executives dislike those ranges and immediately use only the lower (most optimistic) numbers.  But project managers should stick with the ranges in all their order of magnitude estimates because the range communicates the project’s uncertainty. Then they narrow the ranges as planning progresses and uncertainty declines.

Order of Magnitude Estimates: When To Use Them

Project managers use order of magnitude (OOM) estimates at the beginning of a project to give executives some data. During the initiation phase, executives need information about how much the project will cost and how long it will take. They use this data to decide if the project should go forward. They may also need to decide to integrate this project with other projects the organization is considering. This data is vital for decision-making purposes and cost-benefit decisions. Unfortunately, this is the time when the project manager knows the least about what the project will entail. He/she doesn’t know what deliverables have to be produced, or how much work those deliverables will require. They also have no idea how many team members will be available to do the work. So the project manager is in no position to provide precise estimates.

Order of magnitude estimatesThe absence of data, however, does not prevent executives from demanding precise figures on a new project’s time and cost. If we look at the initial estimating situation from their perspective, we can understand why. They must approve and become accountable for the expenditure of many hours of work and other organizational resources, including cash. From their perspective, it’s reasonable to require data about the new project’s business benefit and the amount of resources it will consume.

Unfortunately, many project managers fall victim to the executives’ pressure and give estimates that aren’t based on facts. Executives may say things like, “Use your project management experience to tell us how long this will take and what it will cost.  If you’re worth your salt as a project manager you ought to be able to tell us the duration and budget you’ll need.” This inevitably leads to blaming the project manager for finishing late and over budget.

Project management experience does not give you the ability to pull accurate initial estimates out of the sky. The one exception might be when you’re repeating the same project, like building new fast food stores in the same city. But when you don’t have data from similar completed projects, there is no way you can provide accurate data during the initiation phase.

Order of Magnitude Estimates: Better Than Commitments You Can’t Keep

Order of magnitude (OOM) estimates are the best tool for a project manager during the initiation phase.  With OOM estimates, the project manager is not providing a precise budget and completion date. He/she will be able to do that later on. Now the project manager provides data along with information about the degree of uncertainty of the estimates. Order of magnitude estimates take the form of a project manager saying, “I’m 80% certain that the cost will be between $50,000 and $100,000. I’m 70% certain that we can be finished between 100 and 150 days.”

We know that numbers like this will drive executives crazy. But accurate estimates are not possible. The best we can do at this point is give them an estimate that reflects the lack of information.  We do not give estimates with no factual basis. The only time we have 100% certainty of the cost or duration estimate is on the last day of the project. Project managers need to explain that the certainty of the estimates will improve as we proceed through detailed planning and execution. The estimates get more accurate as we learn more about the deliverables we have to produce, the amount of work it will take to produce them and the size of the project team available to do the work. Our estimates at initiation may have a range of -25 to +75%. As we begin detailed project planning that range narrows and when the plan is approved, we may have a range of uncertainty that is plus or – 15%. As execution of the project proceeds, the range of the estimates narrows all the way through closeout.

Order of Magnitude Estimates: How To Calculate Them

We’re going to express the order of magnitude estimates as a range to reflect the uncertainty. We usually use analogous estimating techniques to provide the raw data and then alter this historical data in two ways. First, we’ll adjust the historical data to reflect the differences between the current project we’re estimating and the completed project. We might gather people with known expertise and ask them to assess the differences in complexity, intensity and difficulty of the current project versus the historic one. They might come up with a 15% adjustment factor. This means the current project is 15% more difficult and will require that much additional time.

The second adjustment we would make is to apply our uncertainty percentages. As an example the -25% to +75% range we discussed above. So the numbers for the new DEF project versus the ABC historical project look like this:

Hours of Work

From the archives: ABC project actually took 10,400 hours of work

Adjustment factor: DEF project is +15% harder than ABC project

Estimate: DEF project requires 11,960 hours of work

Adjustment to reflect uncertainty:  -25 to +75 for DEF project

OOM: 8,970 to 20,930 hours of work range for DEF project

The project manager would present this information by saying something like this. “We’ve assembled our best experts and used actual data from the ABC project done two years ago. We asked our experts to look at the hours ABC took and reach consensus on the differences between the new DEF project and the ABC project. They concluded that the DEF project is 15% more difficult and would require that many more hours. Then I applied the uncertainty factors to reflect how little we know about the DEF project this early in the effort. The combination of those two data sources gives us the range of hours that you see above.”

When the executives complain about the lack of precision the project manager can say, “This is the best available information we have as of today. As we learn more during the planning effort, I will be able to provide you with increasingly precise numbers. But we will always be dealing with some uncertainty.”

When pressed by the executives for better data, the project manager can say, “I understand you want credible numbers. But at the present time I know so little about this project that trying to be more precise would be deceitful.” Which is the best Estimation Technique?

At the beginning, when you and Dick talk to design your program and what you want to learn, you will select case studies that fit the kind of projects you want to manage. Chose you course and then select the which specialty case study from business, or marketing,  or construction, or healthcare, or consulting.  That way your case studies and project plans, schedules and presentations will fit your desired specialty.

  1. 101 Project Management Basics
  2. 103 Advanced Project Management Tools
  3. 201 Managing Programs, Portfolios & Multiple Projects
  4. 203 Presentation and Negotiation Skills
  5. 304 Strategy & Tactics in Project management
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Bottom-up Estimating – Video

Dick Billows, PMP
Dick Billows, PMP
CEO 4pm.com
Dick’s Books on Amazon

Bottom-up estimating is a project management technique in which the people who are going to do the work take part in the estimating process. Typically those people are the project team members. They work with you, the project manager, to develop estimates at the task level in the work breakdown structure (WBS). When you set the estimates of the amount of work, duration and cost at the task level, you can add them up into estimates of higher-level deliverables and the project as a whole.

Bottom-up estimating is the most accurate approach to estimating cost and duration. It also requires the most time. This kind of estimating involves the entire project team and gives them the opportunity to take part in developing the estimates used to measure their work. As a result, bottom up estimating tends to develop a higher level of project team commitment than parametric estimating. In parametric estimating where the numbers come from an outside source, like published rates, the team members may feel you have imposed the estimates on them. The drawback of the bottom-up approach, however, is that it takes more time than other estimating techniques.

In this video, Dick Billows, PMP, discusses how to make accurate estimates for small to medium projects.

Making Accurate Estimates of Time and Cost

Bottom-up Estimating: Working Your Way Up

In bottom-up estimating, you follow a three-step process, working from the lowest level of detail in the work breakdown structure (WBS). You begin bottom-up estimating by developing a detailed work package to go with the WBS. In the work package, you detail the scope and major deliverable that each team member will produce.  You describe the risks that affect the task and its cost and duration.

This work package is like a contract between you and the team member for their task. You need this contract to make the bottom-up estimating process work effectively with as little padding of the estimates as possible. Team members pad their estimates because they’re concerned about the scope of their work expanding after they have started, without any adjustment to the estimates. They foresee finishing late on the expanded scope and being blamed for missing their commitment. A similar result can happen when external events affect their ability to get the task done within the estimated timeframe. Because of these factors, work packages are an effective tool for clearly explaining to the team member that any changes to the work package are going to reopen the estimating process. In that sense, it gives them protection from scope changes on their task. That is why the work package documents the deliverables, the risks and the approach to the task. You record the team member’s estimates and you both sign the document.  This removes a lot of the anxiety from many team members who have previously been burned by the estimating process.

Bottom-up Estimating From the Work Package

Once the work package is complete and the team member is comfortable with it, you can go on to develop the actual cost and duration estimate. In bottom-up estimating, you must be careful not to force an estimate on the project team members. If you force the estimate on the team member, you cannot expect to earn much commitment from them. That commitment is dependent on a free and open negotiation where the team member feels the estimate is fair and reasonable. You may use the team member’s pessimistic, optimistic and best guess estimates developed in the 3-point estimating process. That technique allows the estimates to show the task’s uncertainty.

Alternatively, you can use an analogous estimating technique with the team member. You will look at the actual amount of work that similar tasks required on completed projects. If you have several projects and tasks to draw information from, you can quickly reach a consensus on how the current task compares to the other tasks. Then you can adjust the estimated work number to show that difference. The team member needs to actively participate in this discussion and in determining the work number that you will use.

Last, you aggregate the estimates for each activity in the lowest level of the WBS and roll the numbers up to develop estimates for the major deliverables and the project as a whole.

You can use a number of mathematical techniques with bottom-up estimating. The most popular and most accurate is  3-point estimating where each team member provides their pessimistic, optimistic and best guess estimates for the calculations. Which is the best Estimation Technique?

To learn more about how to do bottom-up estimating, consider our online project management courses. You work privately with an expert project manager. You control the schedule and pace and have as many phone calls and live video conferences as you wish.  Take a look at the courses in your specialty.

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Project Estimation Sponsor Games

Dick Billows, PMPProject Estimation Sponsor Games are played by ineffective sponsors who use intimidation and manipulation avoid being held responsible for project results. These sponsors don’t play the sponsor role effectively by clearly detailing the project scope and the deliverables they want.  Instead, the dodge all commitment and seek to set up the project manager and team to take the fall is the project fails.  So as you start a new project you need to know how to play the game to avoid being set up any and executive who plays project estimation sponsor games.

Project estimation sponsor games tactics

These sponsors add games and high-pressure tactics to the estimating process. These sponsors say things like,

  • “Any competent project manager should be able to give me a precise estimate at the beginning of a project.”
  • “I can’t make any decisions if you cannot give me a firm commitment to be done by December 15.  I mean I spent an hour with you telling you what I want. Why can’t you commit?”
  • “These numbers are padded with at least 25% fat.  What are you looking to take a vacation to the last month the project? Cut these numbers down to something that’s realistic, I don’t care how hard you and the team have to work.”

Games the Sponsor Plays

New project managers or PMs who haven’t encountered a sponsor who plays games can get sucked into this manipulation. Particularly naïve project managers may actually think they sponsor knows what he’s talking about.

From talking and working with dozens of these sponsors from hell, they have one operating principle. They think fear will drive the project manager and team to work themselves to death to finish the project early and under budget.  They think coercing a commitment to a completion date will motivate people to drop other things, including their personal lives, to meet that commitment.

What actually happens most often is that the project manager and the team quickly realize that the sponsor’s numbers are unachievable. Rather than working themselves to death, they put the sponsor from hell’s project on the back burner and work on projects that have a better chance of success. In fact, these intimidating sponsors from hell usually have the highest project failure rate in the organization. Project managers and team members go to great lengths to avoid assignment to the projects of the sponsors because failure is almost certain.

How to play the Project Estimation Sponsor Games

No matter how much effort you spend to get assigned to the right projects, you’ll get stuck working for a sponsor from hell some time in your career. You need to know how to play the game and remember you’re always polite and respectful when talking to senior management

  • First, you need to recognize that no organization has ever fired a project manager for refusing to commit to a completion date or budget for a project.
  • Second, you cannot count on the professional integrity of the sponsors from hell. Accordingly, every mention of completion dates or estimates should be in writing. Never communicate estimating data verbally or over the phone. It’s also wise to put a copy of all the estimating correspondence into the project work file.  Let the sponsor know you’re doing that with a cc to the project file.
  • Third, you never give an estimate that is just a point value you always give a range. In other words, you never say, we’ll be done by June 15.” What you say is I’m 80% certain will be done between June 12 in June 23. Budget estimates are likewise ask expressed as a range. ”I estimate that the project will cost between $15 and $18,000. “

If you follow the rules, you give yourself a defense against the sponsor from hell misrepresenting what you said or telling others that you made commitments when it’s not true.

Importance of Status Reports

As you are identifying stakeholders who are affected by your project for this sponsor, it’s always a good idea to get them to agree to receive your weekly status reports. You don’t want to take a lot of their time but you want people to see what’s happening on the project. Often sponsors from hell restrict the number of people who receive status data or they take over the status reporting job. When this sponsor starts talking about those things, the alarm bell should go off in your head. It’s very valuable to have a list of managers and executives who have asked for status data and you should give it to them every week.

While your status report should be short and concise they should also have a forecast every week of the completion date and estimated budget (both expressed as ranges). That way you have a reasonably good defense against accusations that variances have come as a surprise to the sponsor from hell. It’s great to have a series of status reports that identify variances and also have other people who have received them. That  can protect you from Project Estimation Sponsor Games.

Project Estimation Sponsor Games Summary

You may go through your entire project manager career and never encounter sponsor like the ones I’ve mentioned. Just tuck this article in the back of your project management toolkit and keep these defensive measures in mind if you do encounter a project sponsor who likes to play games and intimidate project managers. Courses in your specialty.

How To Do Analogous Estimating – Video

Analogous estimating will improve the time and cost estimates for your project. First, let’s talk about why estimates are often inaccurate and useless to the project’s decision-makers. That’s because project managers frequently estimate cost and duration by “plucking numbers out of the sky.” Or they provide estimates that have no basis in reality but are what the project sponsor wants to hear.

Dick Billows, PMP
Dick Billows, PMP
CEO 4pm.com
Dick’s Books on Amazon

For these project managers, it’s hard to change their well deserved reputation that they “can’t estimate worth a lick.” These PM’s make their initial estimates at the beginning of a project when they know very little about it. Usually the project manager has never done a project like the new one so the uncertainty is high. In fact, it’s very possible that no one in the organization has ever done a project exactly like this one. However, the executives need decision-making data about how long it will take and how much it will cost to decide whether the project’s worth doing.

Watch a project manager develop and then present project estimates using analogous estimating.

Project Estimating Analogous & Parametric Techniques

The project manager can often find out how long the executives want the project to take and how much they want it to cost. But the executives may not know the difference between a good, accurate estimate and the numbers they want. They plucked the numbers out of the sky and often bully the project manager into estimating the cost and duration to match those numbers.

Unfortunately, the executives don’t treat those numbers as values they rammed down the project manager’s throat. Instead they treat them as the project manager’s solemn commitment to the cost and duration of the project. The numbers they plucked from the sky are not based on the amount of work required for the deliverables to be produced.  They don’t even reflect the size of the project team that will do the work.

This estimating cycle is what causes 70% of the projects in some organizations to finish late and over budget. This high failure rate undermines the credibility of project managers and makes it nearly impossible for the organization to launch strategic initiatives. But there is an answer.

Analogous Estimating: A Better Way to Estimate Costs and Time

Analogous estimating doesn’t provide a perfect solution but it is accurate and based on data instead of wishes and hopes. It also has the potential to substantially increase the organization’s project success rate from 30% to above 60%. And you can easily implement it.

The solution is relatively simple. The organization needs to keep track of the hours of work that each team member works on a project each week. It also needs to track the costs incurred to get the project done.  In as little as 3 months, the organization will have a good start on a database for estimating new projects. This data gives you thAnalogous Estimatinge best possible tracking on project progress and is the basis for analogous estimating.

Analogous Estimating: How It Works

Obviously, the new projects are not identical to the completed projects. Nevertheless, some of the tasks and some of the deliverables in the new projects are going to be similar to tasks and deliverables in the old ones. Project managers may have to look through a number of previously completed projects to find tasks and/or deliverables that are roughly similar to those in their new projects.

The longer the organization builds these archives of its project work and cost data, the more valuable it will be. After a year or two, it becomes relatively easy for project managers to find similar deliverables and tasks in the archives. These are the analogous deliverables they will use in their estimating process. Then the project manager and sponsor make adjustments to the historic, analogous data to reflect the differences between the old project and the new one.

An Example of Analogous Estimating

As an example, let’s say a new project requires a training session for the employees who will work on the new procedures and processes the project produces. The project manager could review the number of work hours used to create the training class curriculum in a previous project. They might also look at the actual classroom time used on the previous project. Then the project manager would consider the differences in complexity, scale, scope and focus between the old and new projects. The project manager would ask the Human Resources trainers to compare the two training efforts and they are told the new one is 20% more difficult and will take 20% more time than the old one.

Then the project manager would adjust the historic data for their project. Getting input from the people who will do the work is very valuable. It lets the project manager present data on the work and cost of deliverables that has a solid basis in reality. It’s certainly possible to debate the size of the adjustment factor. But you are still discussing the actual amount of work for a training class based on a previous project. That is much better than using data plucked from the sky.

You can use the analogous estimating technique at any level of the project. You can use it to develop initial estimates when a project is first discussed or initiated. You can also use it when you’re making estimates of the work and duration of the individual team members’ tasks and of the project as a whole.

How To Do Analogous Estimating

  1. You identify previously completed projects with archived data on work and cost by task and major deliverable. In organizations with mature project management processes, like established consulting or engineering firms, there may be a number of similar projects.
  2. On projects larger than the very smallest, you should include team members, stakeholders and the sponsor in examining the previous projects. They will help develop factors for adjusting the work and cost data.
  3. You should guide the group to consensus on the adjustment factor. Then use this as the basis for the business case and the work and cost estimates.

Analogous Estimating: Use Historical Data With Adjustments

Let’s look at some examples.

  1. Historic project- training for 30 reps: 50 hours of preparation and 16 hours delivery
  2. New project – 20% less preparation time, same 16 hours delivery time
  3. Analogous estimate – 40 hours preparation + 16 hours delivery = 50 hours of work

Analogous Estimating Summary

Analogous estimating is not perfect by any stretch of the imagination. However, it is much better than using pretend numbers that are politically attractive at the beginning of the project but disastrous at the end. It’s inexpensive to implement analogous estimating. It merely requires every project manager to use automated scheduling software to plan and track projects. The software makes project managers more efficient gives the organization the hours of work and the cost of each of the major and supporting project deliverables. That’s all the data that future project managers require for their analogous estimating.

You can learn more about analogous estimating techniques in our online project management courses. You work privately with a expert project manager. You control the schedule and pace and have as many phone calls and live video conferences as you wish.  Take a look at the courses in your specialty. Which is the best Estimation Technique?

At the beginning of your course, when you and Dick talk to design your program and what you want to learn, you will select case studies that fit the kind of projects you want to manage. Chose you course and then select the which specialty case study from business, or marketing,  or construction, or healthcare, or consulting.  That way your case studies and project plans, schedules and presentations will fit your desired specialty.

  1. 101 Project Management Basics
  2. 103 Advanced Project Management Tools
  3. 201 Managing Programs, Portfolios & Multiple Projects
  4. 203 Presentation and Negotiation Skills
  5. 304 Strategy & Tactics in Project management
Get Our Free Project Manager Newsletter
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By submitting this form, you are consenting to receive marketing emails from: 4PM.com, 3547 South Ivanhoe Street, Denver, CO, 80237, http://4pm.com. You can revoke your consent to receive emails at any time by using the SafeUnsubscribe® link, found at the bottom of every email. Emails are serviced by Constant Contact