Friday, June 9, 2017

How To Get Better Estimates From Your Team?

Good estimates tell you how long a task will take. They help you plan accurately and build a reliable project schedule. To get quality estimates you need to know...
How To Get Better Estimates From Your Team
These steps will help you get great estimates from your team every time.
Identify the Tasks to Estimate
Take a look at your project task list and identify which tasks need estimates. Strip out all the routine tasks like project meetings or workshops (you can put them on the schedule for a particular day). Anything else will need someone to work out the time it will take to complete the task.
Identify the Team Experts
The resources allocated to complete the task may not be the right people to do the estimate. You may also want to involve their managers or other subject matter experts. You could also bring in someone who did the task on a similar project – they aren't allocated to your project but they'll have a great insight into how long it takes to do the work.
Do this for every task so you know who to work with for your estimates. Group tasks together so you can hold estimating meetings with the right people and focus on their sections of the project.
Review Estimating Techniques
There are a number of ways to estimate how long a task will take:
  • Subject matter expertise: someone who knows a lot about the task tells you how long it will take based on their professional opinion.
  • Historical data: use the results of a previous project to estimate how long the same task will take this time.
  • Math: multiply how long it takes to do one unit of work by how many units of work are required. (Also known as "parametric estimating".)
  • A range: work out the most likely, best case and worst case timescales for the task and estimate from that.
  • As a group: use the wisdom of the crowd to debate the best estimate for the task.
Decide if your estimates will include contingency time or not.
Choose the Right Approach
Explain the different techniques to the team members involved. Then agree which technique you will use for each task. Different approaches work well for different tasks – for example, you can't use historical data to estimate if you don't have the data, and if no one in the company has worked on something like this, then your access to subject matter expertise is limited (although you could use a third party).
As your goal is to boost the estimating skills of your team, it can be useful to use two (or more) different ways to estimate one task. Compare the estimates you get and take a judgment about which one you want to use on the project. Keep a note of the other estimates you came up with for the task as they will come in useful later.
Create the Project Plan
Add the data from your estimating into your project plan. Assign a task duration to every activity. This will enable you to work out the overall length of the project.
Track the Accuracy of Estimates
Now you've created your estimates and used them for planning you want to be sure that your team did a good job. Track the actual hours spent on a task using time sheet data. Then compare this to the estimates (both the estimate you actually used and any other estimates you came up with during the process).
Looking at how much time you thought the task would take and comparing it to how long it really took is a fantastic way to see how accurate your estimates were. This useful data will help you estimate more effectively next time.
Project management software that tracks the actual time spent on activities and compares this to your estimates does a lot of the work for you. With tracking mechanism in place you can see how much time each team member is spending on tasks and whether that is in line with what you expected. A handy dashboard does the calculations for you, allowing you to focus on successfully completing the project.

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