Guessing Is Not Estimating
I will never forget my first day at one of the jobs pretty early in my career. I had been hired to be part of a team on a major project that was starting, and on my first day there was a huge planning meeting that was being hosted by the project manager. It involved all of the team going through the work breakdown structure to start developing estimates of how long each task would take, and how much effort was needed for each item.
I had worked on a few projects before, but not many. You can imagine it was a fairly intimidating environment—surrounded by dozens of people I didn’t know (there were more than 40 people in the room), being asked to provide input on work I didn’t understand. Needless to say, I didn’t contribute much in that meeting!
But one thing struck me then—and has stayed with me to this day. It was a ridiculous waste of time and effort. Even though I knew nothing about the work or the people, it was immediately obvious that everyone was simply guessing how long something would take. They had no idea how many people needed to be assigned—and in many cases, they didn’t really understand what each task represented.
And yet many people were happily throwing out numbers that the project manager was recording and using to build the project plan. That was a long time ago, but let’s be honest—that stuff
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