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How Realistic Are Your Project Predictions?
Submitted by Adele Sommers on June 21st, 2012
Do you excel at predicting the time, funds, and resources your projects will require?
Whether your group decides to design a new system, launch a new Web site, or overhaul your organization’s policies, these endeavors will require people, schedules, funding, resources, requirements, testing, revising, implementation, evaluation, and many other elements.
You may have seen this phenomenon already: projects are risk magnets. Why is that? The reasons include the fact that projects typically have many dynamic aspects, and yet they are often constrained by finite conditions. These contradictory forces make it very difficult to determine with pinpoint accuracy the time and effort required. They set the stage for plenty of budget and schedule "collisions" during the life of the project!
When my clients or colleagues invariably ask, "How long do you think this effort might take?" I usually experience a knee-jerk reaction. Instinctively, a part of my brain that once excelled at solving math problems on timed quizzes goes into overdrive. "I know the answer!" it screams.
Yet, unless that project or task is something I’ve performed many times before — under very similar conditions each time and with good records of my actual hours spent — providing an accurate estimate can be quite elusive. As I strive to imagine all of the stages and steps of a process, as well as fathom the unknown variables or things that could go awry, it’s no wonder that I hardly ever guess 100% correctly, especially for new endeavors.
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