Common Project Estimating Mistakes And How To Avoid Them

Various factors affect the course of a project, let's take a look at what you can control and prevent from becoming a problem.

Lena Software

06 Sep 2022
common project estimating mistakes to avoid
While the estimation stage may seem like a small part of an overall project, it is often the most challenging for people in IT. It is also a crucial stage that cannot be avoided or rushed. There are many different estimation techniques used to try to simplify the process. In many cases, estimating is made easier by dividing projects into tasks or comparing them to similar projects completed previously.
Expertise and experience, combined with an objective approach, increase the accuracy of estimations. Nonetheless, 100% accurate predictions are a rarity.
A variety of elements affect the course of a project, some of which you can control and prevent from becoming a problem. We've compiled a list of some of the most common mistakes when estimating to help you avoid falling into problems.
1. Poor requirements 
It is impossible to provide an accurate estimate if the requirements provided are not detailed enough. After all, estimating the unknown is extremely difficult. Even a good estimation based on poorly defined requirements is worthless as it won’t match what the customer has in mind.
2.  Over-optimism
Basing estimates based on the best-case scenario will inevitably lead to budget deficits and delivery delays. Unforeseen problems will almost certainly occur and the project team will not always work to 100% of capacity. A project can also be held up by delays in customer approvals along the way, equipment failures or difficulties in sourcing materials. Estimates made by taking risks into account will help prevent disappointment.
3. Padding
Making predictions based on the best-case scenario is poor practice. But that doesn't mean overly cautious estimations based on the just-in-case scenario are the best method. Of course, you will almost certainly meet the estimate but, from the outset, it will not be accurate. Trying to give yourself a buffer simply to prevent running over your estimate will not impress clients. And giving developers far more time than is necessary can indicate to them that you lack faith in their abilities. Consult experts who understand the scope of the task to ensure realistic predictions based on experience. They will be consistent in evaluating their own efforts, and you can browse past logs for comparison and to avoid guesswork.
4. Failure to assess risk and uncertainty
Every project carries some uncertainties and risks. It is best to keep in mind that some sort of delay is inevitable.
While ignoring risks is similar to being overly optimistic, they are not quite the same. Taking into account factors that you cannot foresee, such as not knowing the attitude of a client you are working with for the first time or not knowing whether the price should be fixed, brings an element of risk. 
When assessing risk in terms of your estimates, consider the individual threats to each project rather than using a standard approach. This will increase the consistency of your estimations.
5. External Pressures
Customers often have their own expectations in mind when planning a project. These may differ from reality and you may be expected to deliver high quality in a short time or within a restricted budget. Challenges improve you and your team, but chasing unrealistic targets only leads to failure and reputational damage.
When providing estimates you must communicate what you believe is reasonably achievable.
As we mentioned earlier, successful estimates require vision and experience. Technology can help you simplify your estimating process and avoid falling into the pitfalls described above.
About MaestroCR
MaestroCR has been designed to enable transparent communication with customers and stakeholders at each stage of the project.
Upon creating your project, you receive requirements from your client and share your estimate. If approved, you will be assigned the project and it will be managed through MaestroCR. Communicating in real-time with all the project partners ensures everyone has access to the necessary information at all times.
Start to simplify your project management with a single platform for free right here!

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