Project Estimation Techniques

Learn what kind of technique Computools PM applies for project estimation.

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Project estimation could be really challenging for the Project manager because he has to take to account core six project constraints – Scope, Time, Cost, Quality, Resources and Risk in order to accurately estimate the project. Today there are several techniques that allow making a project calculation, their choice may vary depending on the specifics and complexity of the task, the processes adopted in the executing company or the already established scheme of interaction with the customer. The Computools also has its own algorithm of actions, which is used for project estimation. 

Common Project Estimation Techniques

The only time you know precisely how long it takes to complete a project is when it’s done. Up to the point of delivery, teams use educated guesswork to predict the future. And the bigger and more complex a project is, the hazier that future is. Faulty estimates mean missing deadlines and breaking budgets – two of the main symptoms of project failure.

  •  Expert judgment

One of the most common ways. The expert assessment allows making a calculation for each project individually, based on the experience of experts and their skills. The main thing here is to choose true experts who have experience working on similar projects.

  •  Comparative estimation

A simple and fast way of the project estimate, the essence of which is to compare the new task with past successful projects. This method does not provide with clear numbers and often does not take into account the features of a new project, focusing only on similar elements.

  • Top-down method

Using a high-level work breakdown structure and data from previous projects, you can add estimates for each project work item to determine the overall effort and cost. The top-down method lacks detailed analysis, which makes it best suited for a quick first-pass at a prospective project to assess its viability.

  •  Bottom-up method

Using this method, each task is estimated individually, and then those estimates are rolled up to give the higher-level numbers. This process makes you think about what’s required in order to take a step back to see if the big picture still makes sense. You’ll receive more accurate results than the top-down method, but it’s also a greater investment of time.

  • Parametric estimation

This is a more scientific method that essentially auto-calculates estimates using detailed data from previous activities. It is one of the most accurate techniques for determining a project’s duration and cost. However, processing large amounts of data may require a long time or the usage of additional software.

Of course, there are many other methods that may be used to develop estimates, but those, mentioned above, are the most wide-spread. It is clear that each method could be more beneficial for a certain project or task, but Computools always insists on the individual project estimation due to it is a great opportunity to investigate all the tasks and requirements to the project and get the closest estimation data.

Computools Method of Project Estimation

Being a skilled estimator is a crucial part of setting schedules, establishing budgets, managing resources and running a thriving team and business. Using the best online project management software for the job is a huge help, but thanks to knowing the methods and learning how to do them well Computools Project managers have become great estimators.

The process of estimate consists of several stages – steps, thanks to which the exact calculations are performed. It all starts with identifying the client’s needs, the ultimate goal of the project, the main tasks and requirements for the end product. This allows assuming in advance the stack of technologies, the number of experts involved in the project, the timing of the tasks and their complexity. Further, the experts at Computools ask to provide them access to documentation, links to the resource (if any), source code, database dump, and other important information on the project. Based on these data, the estimation and calculations will be carried out.

Despite the existence of a certain pattern and action algorithm, the estimate is made by processing the provided data. In some cases, a comparative technique is used. Also, for the evaluation of some tasks can be used the methods described above, but not as the main technique for the entire estimate, but as a separate method within the whole system of estimation.

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The next step is the decomposition of tasks and goals. At this stage, the experts at Computools determine more clearly the number of future stages of development and the actions that need to be carried out in the process. Also, a list of questions needed to obtain the missing information on the project is prepared separately. Despite the fact that the customer may initially provide everything needed, during the estimate, additional sub-tasks that require clarification may emerge.

Next, experts conduct an initial estimate based on the received data. To obtain more accurate figures on the timing of the tasks, a comparison is made with statistical data on similar projects. After a preliminary assessment, the potential risks are predicted and their impact on the project is taken into account. These data are used to adjust the initial estimate. Considerable time is devoted to this stage since it is necessary to take into account all the variables and factors, to calculate as accurately as possible and to set the time for solving the challenges that the team may face in during of the work on the project.

Since the main task of the Computools team is to execute the project in accordance with all the requirements and needs of the customer, keeping within a reasonable time frame and budget, the next stage is to check, test and correct the estimate. The first group of tests checks the compliance of the total amount of time with the type and complexity of tasks. This allows identifying stages with too short or long deadlines. Further, an additional estimate for each individual item and task is carried out. If necessary, adjustments and changes are made to the estimate. The final stage of the verification is a parametric expert assessment, which takes into account all the obtained data, answers to questions from the customer and other information.

After completion of all the stages and testing, timelines are established for the project tasks and an estimate document is prepared for discussion with the client. Some adjustments may be made after this.

In some cases, Computools team prepares two estimates. One per project research phase, if it is too voluminous or it is not possible to perform the calculations immediately. And the second one is for the release phase of the project.

The above plan gives an exact estimate of the project and the outcome becomes a project plan and a project schedule with effort, resource and cost estimates.

It is stated that no single project estimation technique will suit all projects. To achieve the most accurate results it is recommended using and combining a few of estimating techniques to provide increased accuracy to project estimates. Based on the many years of experience in the project’s releases of varying complexity, the experts at Computools have developed their own unique estimate technique that allows making accurate individual projects’ estimation.

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