Simple Tips for Estimating Time in Project Management

Simple Tips for Estimating Time in Project Management
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Good project management is as much of an art as it is a science. One crucial part of project management is proper time management. This goes beyond simply keeping your team on track to meet all of the milestones, goals, and deadlines that a particular project has. You also have to know whether you can push your team to go faster, when to ask for more time, and how to estimate the time that a particular task takes.

Setting Task Times

The first part of estimating time in project management is knowing the average time it takes for each type of task. If you aren’t sure how intensive a particular task is, talk to your employees who are experts in that area. Get an estimate for a range of workers, such as someone newly trained and someone with years of experience. While you’re most likely going to put the more experienced worker on a particular task, that’s not always an option in a project if they’re needed elsewhere. Knowing the longest amount of time that a task takes gives you the information that you need to properly schedule time.

You can program standard task times into a time management or project management system to facilitate task scheduling. This way you can visually see where you’re at with meeting project deadlines and milestones, whether or not you need to bring in additional contractors to help out, and whether the project deadline is realistic before you allocate resources to the project. This helps to avoid frustration when you deal with feature creep in the middle of a massive deployment, or another issue that adds more time to your bottom line.

When to Push Your Team

When you have a good handle on how long particular tasks take, and you’ve worked with your team for awhile, you want to start looking into ways to push them. You don’t want to do anything radical such as suggesting they deliver in under half the time as normal. Start with smaller aspects of the project that you know don’t need to take as long, due to your team’s expertise or the ability to develop scripts and tools to make the process more efficient.

Once your team has proven that it can take on the challenges of coming in under deadline on smaller tasks, look at the entire project to determine how much time you can attempt to shave off. For the first few attempts, stick with the original project deadline and see how far under you can get it. Once your team is comfortable with working at a faster pace, start setting the base deadlines at the level that you know your team can work at.