One use of the project estimate is to determine whether management wants to fund the project based on a cost/benefit analysis. Obviously, if the estimates are not accurate, management cannot make good decisions on whether they want to do the project, assign people to tasks, or plan on when deliverables will be available. Essentially, without goods estimates, project managers cannot manage. Factors that go into good estimates are:

■ Experience with the hardware/software/network/development tools: If the developers are not experienced with the platforms/tools, management should realize that the estimate is probably not very good and be ready to spend much more on the project and expect delays.

■ Familiarity with the requirements: Were the developers involved in the requirements definition? If not, again the estimate is probably not very good; and be ready to spend much more on the project and expect delays.

■ Existing systems: Is the new application a rewrite of existing systems where the reports and data requirements are defined? If so, the estimate may be pretty accurate. Otherwise, additional effort may be required to re-do the system to meet user requirements.

Hopefully, a track record of similar development efforts can be used to provide a reality check for the estimates. This can also be used as a control for managing developers who may be padding their estimates. A confidence factor or range should be a part of this estimate. This would give management a best-case and worst-case scenario. This would allow management the ability to decide not to do the project if it might be too expensive or likely not meet deadlines. A final pitfall to watch out for is a target date set by senior management to be committed to by the project team. If a top-down target date is set, there is pressure on the development staff to "back into" estimates that are not based on what is required or pressure to not have estimates at all.

Project Management Made Easy

Project Management Made Easy

What you need to know about… Project Management Made Easy! Project management consists of more than just a large building project and can encompass small projects as well. No matter what the size of your project, you need to have some sort of project management. How you manage your project has everything to do with its outcome.

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