Time Estimates and Milestones

In chapter two I said that you should base your daily schedule on accomplishing goals, not on working a certain number of hours. By breaking your larger goals down into daily goals, you can see what you need to accomplish every day. Now, the important question is, ''How do we know when we have successfully accomplished the goal?'' For the sub-goal, ''Learn basic skills of VB data source classes,'' you might want to say the goal is accomplished when you have completed five hours of studying. Yet, this is not correct. This is working the clock.

The time listed is an estimate of the time we expect this goal to take, not the amount of time we actually must spend to do this goal (though hopefully the two will be nearly the same). We need a milestone here. For example, the book, VB 6 UML, published by Wrox Press, covers data source classes in chapters 12, 13 and 14. Thus, we could create the following milestone for this sub-goal:

> Read chapters 12, 13 and 14 in the VB 6 UML book and enter the code from these chapters into a test project.

When the chapters are read and the code is written, the goal is complete, regardless of how many hours it takes to reach this point. Hopefully, though, our time estimate of five hours was accurate.

The number of hours assigned to a goal is only an estimate of how long it will take to accomplish the goal. The actual time to complete the goal may be longer or shorter. It is important that you work toward accomplishing goals every day, and have a milestone that tells you when the goal has been reached. When all of your milestones for the day have been reached, you have completed your day's work. If you are new at estimating the time it takes to accomplish a goal, talk to a co-worker who may have more experience. Over time, your estimates should become more accurate and you should be able to properly estimate the goals you can accomplish in a normal workday. Also, actual time spent on working towards a goal can be stored against a goal so that developers and managers can see how accurate time estimates have been and can learn and refine their estimates.

You can enter the milestone in two ways. You can either enter it as a comment or you can create a milestone with Project 98 by entering a goal with a duration of 0, as follows. Enter the following into Project 98:

Goal Name

Duration

Start

Finish

Complete

0

Tue

Tue

chapters 12-14 in

01/15/02

01/15/02

VB6 UML

Your project should now look as follows:

Your project should now look as follows:

Notice how Project 98 represents a milestone with a diamond.

Let us imagine that on Wednesday, January 16 we will spend the day in meetings so we will not allocate any time to learning VB on this day. On Thursday, January 17 we will spend part of the day reviewing the meeting but will still have two hours to spend working on our VB 6 skills. We will spend this time reviewing MTS. Let us add the following to our schedule:

Goal Name

Duration

Start

Finish

Learn MTS

2h

Thu 01/17/02

Thu 01/17/02

Complete chapter 3 in Wrox

0

Thu 01/17/02

Thu 01/17/02

MTS MSMQ

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