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Estimating Project Work Gone Wrong

A project estimate can be viewed as a model of a project (a mini-project), but just like the project itself, this model can be flawed. On time, on budget, and in the black all come down to accuracy, and there are five ways to achieve this elusive goal. Brad Egeland explores each in an article for Project Smart.

5 Ways to Achieving Estimate Accuracy

  1. Requirements
  2. Integrity
  3. Realism
  4. Grace under pressure
  5. Sound risk analysis

A solid estimate cannot be assembled without having the full list of project requirements available:

It’s like building a house on sand…you’ll likely never recover, no matter how hard you try to fix things. Stop, take ample time and construct detailed requirements with your team and the customer. Then create a meaningful and more accurate estimate. And then – and only then – start the actual work.

Padding an estimate is something developers get away with a lot. But sometimes the customer catches wind of this practice and the result is never pretty. The moral of the story: never pad your estimates. It’s just not cricket, as the saying goes. In general, an estimate is the worst possible place for optimism. Estimation is all about realism. Remember this axiom – hope for the best, plan for the worst, prepare for anything.

And if the phrase “under pressure” suddenly triggers an endless repeating loop of the 1981 David Bowie classic, you’re not alone. You’re also not alone if being rushed to meet an arbitrary deadline foils a genuine attempt to produce a sound project estimate. Resist this pressure and deliver what the customer needs, not what they think they want.

Lastly, even if you are the perennial optimist, don’t overlook risk. It lurks in every corner of the realistic estimate, so capture it in that estimate to the best of your ability.

Read the original article at:

About Eric Anderson

Eric Anderson is a staff writer for CAI's Accelerating IT Success. He is an intern at Computer Aid Inc., pursuing his master's degree in communications at Penn State University.

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