Project Management

Effort-Based Project Forecasting

George Jucan is an experienced Project Manager Professional (PMP) with 20 years of technical and management experience in complex environments, both in public and private sector. He is well known in the project management community as a successful IT project management consultant, speaker at public events, trainer and author of project management articles.

The Goal
In a perfect world, a project plan would have all the tasks identified, estimated, linked and scheduled. All resources (effort and materials) would be identified and assigned to tasks with accurate cost data. Accurate task completion information would be provided to the project manager, and mathematical formulas would derive the current project status, completion forecasts and even estimated resources needed to get the project back in control.
Wouldn't it be nice to manage a project in a perfect world? But let's shake out the daydreaming and take a look around us.
The Status
Generally speaking, we're pretty good at identifying and estimating the necessary tasks, relying on the expertise provided by the senior technical resources. Most of the time we'll identify all dependencies between tasks, and with external events, so we end up with a neat project schedule.
Diligent project managers would even go a step forward to identify all resources needed for project execution and assign them to corresponding tasks. The focus is frequently on human resources, as they are usually the most significant cost component in a project these days. For physical resources we can probably get away with a Bill of Materials, outside the project plan.
At this level, the project plan looks realistic so we may actually have a chance to deliver as planned. We only …

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A doctor can bury his mistakes but an architect can only advise his clients to plant vines.

- Frank Lloyd Wright