The Secret Behind Accurate Estimating (Part III).

Corporate Exit Strategist for the Blooming Entrepreneur

Time is just a form of measurement.  It’s a tool for our convenience.  One of the uses for “time” is to synchronize pieces of a project:  to schedule the various work products and integrate into a quality product, service or event.  Inaccurate estimating skills slow down the entire team and builds resentment in those required to pick-up the slack.

This series cover three methods of charting and logging your work product estimations:

  1. Iterative charting to improve accuracy
  2. Charting for effective communications
  3. Charting for a streamlining process example

Today we are starting our discussion with a tip on how to use our estimating charts to streamline our process.

Using the chart for a streamlining process example:

Critically reviewing exactly who needs what, when, allows you to better streamline your schedule.  For instance, if I am writing a book, I may choose to write the first draft, have it reviewed first by my editor, then my publisher, then some reviewers.  I would log my estimates, impact, quality and my time accordingly.

Tasks Impact Quality required Estimated Time Actual Time
  Writing book Editor needs an early draft of the book.Publisher and reviewers need something close to release quality, but doesn’t have to be perfect.
Write First Draft Low  3 months 4 months
Review by editor Low 3  months 4 months
Incorporate changes from editor High 3 weeks
Review by publisher Medium 1 month 2 months
Incorporate changes from publisher High 2 weeks
Review by reviewers Medium-high 1 month 1 month
Write Second Draft High 3 weeks 2 months
Release time 13 months

But if I structure things a little differently, and handed off in parts to the right people in parallel or continuously, the timing might look like:

Tasks Impact Quality required Estimated Time Actual Time
  Writing book Editor needs early drafts as I complete them.  Drafts can be rough.Publisher and reviewers need Beta Versions for their review.  Pretty close to release but not perfect.
Write First Draft Part 1 Low  1.5 months 2 months
Review Part 1 by editor As long as I keep supplying Editor with new material before he completes what he currently has, his pipeline is sufficiently filled.  I don’t need to complete the entire book before handing off to him. Medium 1.5  months 2 months
Incorporate changes as editor reviews (in parallel) If he hands-off periodically as he completes, I can incorporate his changes in parallel. High 2 days to tie loose ends 1 day
Work on Part II while editor is reviewing Part 1 I can also be working on the second part.  I don’t have to be waiting on the editor to continue writing the second part. 0 new time
Incorporate changes to PART II as editor reviews (in parallel) High 2 days to tie loose ends 1 day
Review PART I and PART II by publisher and reviewers at same time Publisher and reviewers may need the entire manuscript.  But they don’t need to review in serial.  They can review at the same time. Medium 1 month 2 months
Incorporate final changes 2 weeks 2 weeks
Release time 7 months

Conclusion:

Keeping the below 5 things when estimating helps with communication, streamlining tasks, and bottlenecks.  If can also give you insight into critical path analysis and parallel processing.  (More on critical path analysis and parallel processing in future articles).

The more you practice these things, the better you will get.   These tools are for you to use.  Please feel free to modify the templates to your individual needs.

And let me know what you have tried and have incorporated in your routines.

 

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