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New PM tasked to gather hours of team

Hi there. I'm new to project management, going from an event planner for one annual conference to a PM for a small business unit with team of 12. I'm a little bit out of my comfort zone but eager to grow in this new role.

I've been tasked to interview my team members to find out how many hours it takes for each job function (editorial, graphics, product development/selection/implementation).

Can you please guide me in the right direction? Where do I begin other than asking general questions like "how long does it take to proofread a book?"

The purpose of this is to create a "Unit Product Timeline".

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First, you need to define a procedure or process then make a WBS and assign or allocate hours to each then you will end up with your hour for each major category or package.

Jennifer -

It might help to have each role define their activities and have the break it down as Rami indicates to a level that would support good estimation.

However, if this is in the context of estimating the effort or cost of a project, I'd definitely recommend doing it as a group - develop the WBS with them, and have the individual work package owners estimate their activities.


Estimation is always sensitive. But as my colleagues suggested, it's the appropriate breaking down of deliverables into categories of packages that will assist greatly.

Some excellent suggestions from the group.

Now for reality. You have all the task information for the timeline. You just need the hours to assign to each task to get your estimate on how long the project will take. You need to be real careful not to ruffle feathers of the team. They might be honest and give you accurate estimates, but since you are dealing with 12 team members you will get a mixed bag of estimates.

From the beginning show confidence and not act like you are out of your comfort zone. Be in control in a professional and respectful way. The team could treat you like students treat a substitute teacher if they see any lack of confidence.

My suggestions on getting the estimates. Ask for best case scenario on time estimate and worst scenario and go from there to get an idea. You could also ask if you did that type of work before and how long it took.

Take into account this: in your daily life you are performing project management from the time you wake up to the time you go to bed. The same you do when you asking somebody to help you to make something perhaps you don´t (for example to paint a wall) is what you have to do. The same you do when you want to make something for yourself (for example cooking the thanksgiving food) is what you have to do in this case. Simple than that.

Just as you would learn from your team or clients in event planning, facilitate dialog with your team and elicit information from then on what it takes to perform their role, challenges, etc., to get insight into 'a day in the life', or week.

In doing so, you can begin to map out the activities and related effort. Use mind mapping to draw it up, gather feedback from the team, modify if needed. Pictures say a thousand words. The nice thing is once this exercise is complete, the resultant document will be a great asset for the team and can easily be updated when need be.

You could make this a pretty fun activity with the team. Get some food, relaxed setting. Good luck!

In addition to the good advice my colleagues gave you, check to see if similar projects were done before, review these projects and see what were their estimates, how off their estimates were from reality and why. Do you have the same circumstances they faced, the same team members they used? This will give a good understanding of how such projects are run and better estimates for your project.
Remember also, to revisit your estimates after you do your risk analysis and planning as some of the estimates will change.

Hi Jennifer,

first you have create a list of functions/activities that are needed to create this unit product (write them down, number them). Then you identify the sequence of the activities, some might go in parallel, all have discreet predescessors. Third, you list down which role is needed to work on each activity. If there are 2 roles for one activity, try to split the activity.

Then, for each activity, you ask the colleagues how much hours they estimate as most likely, optimistic and pessimistic scenarios (this is called 3 point estimating). You do that 1. for the work effort and 2. for the duration (there may be activities that require e.g. 4 hours of work spread over 5 days).

You then should have a good feeling what the optimistic and pessimistic hours for the full product are. You can even use PERT calculations based on the data to calculate the expected duration and ranges of confidence for that.

I would ask the estimates from everyone. Even people not in a particular role may have experience in other roles, from previous roles or observation.

If such data already would be available from previous project, this would give you additional insights.

All this you may find in PMI's PMBoK Schedule Management Chapter.

First of all I think you should así them individuales ir them deep track of the time they spend on each of their assigned tasks. If they don't así them to do so and they can help you estimate. If they don't participate it will be hardware for you to have compromised Team members.


You could start with asking for many publications since it may change according to other criteria like size of publication.

I would consider improving/validating with timesheets where you identify for each publication (project) activities perform. I have done that to validate that estimations!

You may come to the conclusion that some activities are more important in a type of publication or according to the size.
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