Estimations done right: Avoiding Common Pitfalls and Mistakes

Avoiding Common Pitfalls and Mistakes
Avoiding Common Pitfalls and Mistakes

Estimating the time and effort required for a project is an essential part of any successful business. However, many of us have experienced the frustration of underestimating a task, leading to missed deadlines and stress. In this article, we will explore the common pitfalls of estimation and provide insights into how to avoid them. So, buckle up and let's dive into the world of estimations done wrong!

You Almost Certainly Got It Wrong

It's a hard truth to accept, but if you confidently claim to know exactly how long a project will take, chances are you are mistaken. Despite our best intentions, we tend to be overly optimistic when making estimations, simplifying complex problems and ignoring potential setbacks. It is crucial to embrace uncertainty and acknowledge that estimates are abstract feelings about a given business problem. Instead of fixating on a fixed number, consider providing a range or interval, and remember that overestimation is always better than underestimation. Be prepared for the possibility that the problem you are solving may be much more challenging than anticipated

Contrary to What Other People Think, You Are Not a Robot

Other people often have unrealistic expectations, expecting us to be like robots following strict schedules and budgets. However, as human beings, we are prone to random factors that can disrupt our work. When allocating resources and forming estimations, it is essential to account for potential issues such as sudden illnesses, staff resignation, or increased scope of work. Maintaining a certain level of redundancy within your team can mitigate these unpredictable situations and ensure smoother project execution.

The Unexpected Twist

Client visions are not set in stone; they can change unexpectedly — much like a bowling ball that seems to fly straight but suddenly takes an unexpected turn. While you can't account for infinite variability, being aware of it at some level can save you from estimation disasters. When faced with unclear functionality or vague specifications, defuse the bomb during estimation by seeking clarification from the client. Otherwise, these uncertainties may explode midway through the project, revealing that your initial estimate was way off base.

The Key to Accurate Estimation

Clear and constant communication is the bedrock of accurate estimations. Engaging in meaningful discussions and asking questions helps build a comprehensive understanding of the scope of the problem. This form of communication isn't limited to just the client; it extends to all stakeholders involved in estimation. Ensuring all sides, including frontend, backend, and design, are on the same page eliminates misinterpretations and allows for a relatively unified product vision. Failure to communicate effectively often leads to differences in interpretation, resulting in wildly varying estimates. Collaborate, discuss, and communicate to create the best estimate possible.

Don't Be Afraid to Speak Up

Respecting senior colleagues is important, but blindly accepting their estimations can be detrimental. When estimating, attention to detail and critical thinking are crucial. If you identify problematic points or potential challenges that others may have missed, speak up. Engage in discussions and question assumptions to uncover hidden problems and provide a more realistic estimate. Questioning authority and assumptions is the key to spotting potential pitfalls and ensuring more accurate estimations.

Every Project Is Different

While experience is valuable, relying solely on past experiences can lead to miscalculations. Each project has its unique characteristics and challenges, even if they seem similar on the surface. Just because you've set up multiple e-commerce platforms doesn't automatically mean the next one will be the same. Analyse each project's specifics and tailor your estimation accordingly. On the flip side, drawing from past experiences can help you anticipate common obstacles and focus on critical aspects. However, always remain open to the nuances of each project and avoid allowing past experiences to blind you to the specific requirements of the situation at the time.

In conclusion, estimating properly requires a mindful approach that emphasises flexibility, open communication, and critical thinking. By accepting the inherent uncertainty of estimations, valuing effective communication, questioning assumptions, and considering project-specific factors, you can set yourself up for more accurate and successful estimations. Remember: Don't be afraid to embrace the uncertainties and challenges of estimation; they are an integral part of the process.

And if you want to learn how to properly estimate, check out this article!