Be Prepared With a Full Estimating Packet

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

After you have prepared your estimate for project cost and duration, you may need to defend it if the sponsor thinks that the numbers are too high. Be prepared with an estimating packet. This does not have to be a thick document. It is only meant to show the rigor that you went through in the estimating process. Rather than just providing a final estimate, or an estimate range, provide the following information instead.
  • Your understanding of the work that was requested
  • The process you used to prepare the estimate
  • The estimating technique(s) you used
  • The actual estimate of the work effort (and duration and cost, if applicable)
  • The detailed estimating information in case the sponsor would like to review. For instance, if you did a Work Breakdown Structure, you can include your detailed work estimates
  • The assumptions you made in developing the estimate
  • The level of uncertainty in the numbers that is reflected in the contingency or the size of the estimating range (more uncertainty is reflected in a wider range)
This would be a powerful packet of information to return to the sponsor. This information will also stop many challenges because people will have difficulty disputing your facts. You may get asked to change your estimating assumptions or to try another estimating technique. These are legitimate requests and you can re-estimate based on new criteria. But at least the challenges are in terms of the estimating process, not on whether you did a poor job on the estimate itself.
If there were disagreements with your estimate, this would give you the facts to respond. For example, if your sponsor thinks the estimate is too high you can ask if the sponsor has any additional information that would allow you to revise your assumptions and perhaps revise the estimate. You could also ask whether any  requirements and functionality can be scaled back. In many cases, the original set of features and functions is more of a wish list. After seeing a price tag, it is very possible that the client can live without certain features.

There are many ways to respond, but the estimating packet gives you the details you need to support your estimate.


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