Sunday, 31 July 2016

EDUC6145 Estimating Costs and Allocating Resources

Portny (2013) provides the following guidelines to help improve the quality of activity duration estimates:
  • clearly define activities then break them down further until lowest-level activity estimates are two weeks or less
  • clearly define activity start and end points
  • involve the people who will perform the activity
  • minimize the use of "fudge factors"

Duncan Haughey provides the following rules to help create accurate and realistic estimates.  The website https://www.projectsmart.co.uk/estimating-project-costs.php also includes a list of common mistakes.
  • Assume resources will only be productive for 80 percent of their time
  • Resources working on multiple projects take longer to complete tasks because of time lost switching between tasks
  • People tend to be optimistic and often underestimate how long tasks will take
  • Make use of other people's experiences and your own
  • Get an expert view
  • Include management time in any estimate
  • Always build in contingency for problem solving, meetings and other unexpected events
  • Cost each task in the Work Breakdown Structure to arrive at a total, rather than costing the project as a whole
  • Agree a tolerance with your customer for additional work that arises during the project
  • Communicate any assumptions, exclusions or constraints you have to your customer
  • Provide regular budget statements to your customer, copying your team, so they are always aware of the current position


Prior to creating my project schedule as a Gantt Chart, I created an Excel file for both my effort/duration table and my cost estimation worksheet.   There are templates available that can be used in Excel for project planning, including this Project Cost Estimator, available at this site:  http://analysistabs.com/excel-templates/project-cost-estimator-free-download/

This site also includes a number of project management templates for Excel, including Gantt charts, project budgeting and project timelines:  https://www.smartsheet.com/top-project-management-excel-templates

I could not imagine performing these tasks (project scheduling, cost estimations, etc.) without the use of Excel and having pre-built templates would be very helpful for a beginner like myself.


References:

Haughey, D.  (n.d.) Estimating Project Costs.  Retrieved from https://www.projectsmart.co.uk/estimating-project-costs.php

Portny, S. E. (2013) Project management for dummies, 4th edition.  Hoboken, NJ:  John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

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