Do you keep records of project estimates?

People attending a recent project management workshop suggested that they needed some help estimating. I probed just that bit deeper and discovered that many people were working on what I would call ‘repeat projects.’ They are repeating a project that was done say last year or an element of a project.

This led me to ask (knowing the answer) whether the organisation kept a list or directory of times that tasks take. The body language of those on our project management courses was very interesting….it screamed “of course we don’t.”

I also asked whether at project closure estimates of times within the project plan are reviewed for accuracy. I got the same reaction

If companies want to deliver projects effectively then they need to be able to take as many short cuts as possible. By this I mean having to hand a list of agreed estimates (or ranges of estimates) that will help those who have little or no project management experience or even the experienced project manager.

Now I am not suggesting that these become the minimum times more a range that can be used in putting the plan together. As someone suggested, “project management is like a game of golf – be realistic and reconsider your plan after every shot.” Estimates are no different.

Finally, yes we do include how to estimate on our project management training courses however a lot of anxieties could be allayed if companies kept records of times for projects or stages or activities.

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5 Responses to Do you keep records of project estimates?

  1. Chad says:

    Historical data is critical in making accurate estimates. They are never perfect, but make a huge difference in the end.

    Our pool service software was a new project that we didn’t have historical data for and several tasks were heavily miscalculated (both over and under) because of it.

    Historical data is critical.

  2. Thanks for making these important points!
    I’ve added some thoughts about why tracking estimates can be so difficult and how to change that on our blog (http://www.liquidplanner.com/blog/2010/6/7/making-your-best-re-estimate.html)

  3. Ron says:

    Hi Dine. I have read your blog and the important thing to note is that while you are trying to push for people to use software (yours of course!) many of the people who we come across do not have any software installed at all.

    So, we are left with ‘manual’ approaches and the acceptance of the need to keep a log of estimates. That one step, keeping a log or record of estimates is a huge leap forward in people’s thinking and maybe then and only then will software come in to the picture though I have my doubts!

    Ron

  4. Of course. You’re right that in many cases people will have nothing but an excel sheet (I hope they have even that!) to track estimates and that will be challenging. I guess I am envisioning the ideal scenario, where teams are using an application designed to capture that information. But, yes getting there might be a big leap for some teams.

  5. Pingback: Project Management At Work » Blog Archive » Weekly Round up Project Management: Project estimating; Project estimating pitfalls; Bottom-up project estimating, and other interesting posts

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