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The Importance of Estimating - WCMKE 2015

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The Importance of Estimating - WCMKE 2015

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This presentation strives to shift common perceptions around estimating, encouraging more productive, strategic practices that improve project outcomes for freelancers and agencies alike.

Building on this philosophical shift, you will learn how to produce more reliable estimates based on granular tasks; how to use simple yet powerful estimation techniques such as the PERT method; and how to gather the information needed to produce an accurate estimate.

Finally, based on 4 years of experience managing the 10up production team, I’ll share best practices, tips, and tools for successfully communicating estimates internally and externally as well as how to leverage estimates to inform agency resource planning and growth.

This presentation strives to shift common perceptions around estimating, encouraging more productive, strategic practices that improve project outcomes for freelancers and agencies alike.

Building on this philosophical shift, you will learn how to produce more reliable estimates based on granular tasks; how to use simple yet powerful estimation techniques such as the PERT method; and how to gather the information needed to produce an accurate estimate.

Finally, based on 4 years of experience managing the 10up production team, I’ll share best practices, tips, and tools for successfully communicating estimates internally and externally as well as how to leverage estimates to inform agency resource planning and growth.

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The Importance of Estimating - WCMKE 2015

  1. 1. Jess Jurick | @jessjurick WordCamp Milwaukee 2015 The Importance of Estimating Jess Jurick VP of Client Delivery
  2. 2. Jess Jurick | @jessjurick WordCamp Milwaukee 2015 Estimation Theory How do we think about estimating?
  3. 3. Jess Jurick | @jessjurick WordCamp Milwaukee 2015 Predicting the Future? That’s hard. Humans are bad at it.
  4. 4. Jess Jurick | @jessjurick WordCamp Milwaukee 2015 Predicting the Future? Animals are bad at it too.
  5. 5. Jess Jurick | @jessjurick WordCamp Milwaukee 2015 Instead… Science! Informed hypotheses constructed to be tested, revisited, and revised.
  6. 6. Jess Jurick | @jessjurick WordCamp Milwaukee 2015 Estimation Theory • Understand the problem • Define the details • Develop an approach • Identify the variables (controlled and uncontrolled) • Present a Level of Effort • Revisit and revise as needed
  7. 7. Jess Jurick | @jessjurick WordCamp Milwaukee 2015 Counting Jelly Beans Can you guess how many there are in these jars?
  8. 8. Jess Jurick | @jessjurick WordCamp Milwaukee 2015 – Vasken Hauri “The challenge in estimating is to achieve a reasonable measure of accuracy, while not spending an inordinate amount of time on creating the estimate.”
  9. 9. Jess Jurick | @jessjurick WordCamp Milwaukee 2015 Preparing for an Estimate • Before starting the estimation process, it’s important to determine what we know and what we don’t know. Anything unknown should be researched and clarified prior to estimation, if possible. If not, this must be noted in the estimate. • More minds = more steps and effort accounted for. Don’t estimate alone! Gather the project team and assemble a list of required steps in order to be as complete as possible.
  10. 10. Jess Jurick | @jessjurick WordCamp Milwaukee 2015 Defining the Steps • Create a written list of items that need to be accomplished to complete the work being estimated. Do not attempt to assign levels of effort to these granular tasks. • Workshop the tasks list with colleagues to improve the chance of catching missing tasks. • Remember to involve appropriate subject-matter experts (e.g. designers) where appropriate to determine the granular tasks list.
  11. 11. Jess Jurick | @jessjurick WordCamp Milwaukee 2015 Techniques for Estimating Tasks • Program evaluation and review technique (PERT) • Best/worst/average case estimation (simplified PERT) • SCRUM estimates (small, medium, and large ‘buckets’)
  12. 12. Jess Jurick | @jessjurick WordCamp Milwaukee 2015 PERT Advantages • Provides an estimate of Level of Effort (LoE) as well as minimum timeline to complete the project. • Identifies project dependencies, and therefore provides a mechanism to predict overall delays based on missed deadlines. • Accounts for Optimistic, Likely, and Pessimistic projections. This can be a powerful technique for reminding all parties this is an estimate.
  13. 13. Jess Jurick | @jessjurick WordCamp Milwaukee 2015 PERT Drawbacks • Requires a lot of effort to complete in the full, traditional sense. For example, a true PERT requires a Gantt chart, timeline, multiple people to estimate each granular task with Optimistic, Likely, and Pessimistic LoEs, etc. • Does a great job of illustrating an ideal timeline, but is just as susceptible to delays as any other means of estimation.
  14. 14. Jess Jurick | @jessjurick WordCamp Milwaukee 2015 Simplified PERT Advantages • Provides for an Optimistic, Likely, and Pessimistic estimate for each granular task. • Results in three estimates (O/L/P) that provide a best/worst/middle case for the overall project LoE. • Performed by one or more engineer in conjunction with the PM and subject-matter experts. • Mitigates overruns (or underruns) on the per-task level by averaging them across the entire estimate.
  15. 15. Jess Jurick | @jessjurick WordCamp Milwaukee 2015 Simplified PERT Drawbacks • Creates 3 estimates without a real sense of the likelihood of any of the 3 outcomes. • Using this technique without also considering individual task weighting can skew estimates. • Smaller group of individuals performing the estimate means it’s more likely that some tasks or LoEs will be incorrectly estimated.
  16. 16. Jess Jurick | @jessjurick WordCamp Milwaukee 2015 SCRUM Advantages • Splits all tasks into Small, Medium, or Large. Commonly, this equates to < 4 hours, 4-8 hours, and 8-16 hours. • Very simple and quick with some practice. • Forces granular breakdown of tasks that might otherwise be considered as a single task. This in turn improves the completeness of the estimate. • Despite the “bucket” approach, averages tend to work themselves out across the project.
  17. 17. Jess Jurick | @jessjurick WordCamp Milwaukee 2015 SCRUM Drawbacks • Relies on a large group of tasks to achieve a reliable average. • Does not provide an estimate of completion date, only of total LoE. • Requires that all tasks (even large ones with relatively stable and known LoEs) be broken down into chunks of less than 16 hours each.
  18. 18. Jess Jurick | @jessjurick WordCamp Milwaukee 2015 Intelligent Estimation • Effective estimates identify pain points and low- hanging fruit in an effort to guide intelligent decision-making by the client. • Clearly state all relevant dependencies (internal and external) to prevent confusion down the road. • Remember: it is neither improper nor inappropriate to directly and clearly state the effect of any potential delay. It is our job as consultants to do so.
  19. 19. Jess Jurick | @jessjurick WordCamp Milwaukee 2015 Intelligent Estimation • Don’t be too granular in presenting the estimate to the client. • Provide roll-ups of the granular tasks that identify effort by phase and deliverable (things the client can see and understand) rather than technical tasks (things we need to understand).
  20. 20. Jess Jurick | @jessjurick WordCamp Milwaukee 2015 Communicating Estimates • Statements of Work • Shared Task Lists • Status Reports
  21. 21. Jess Jurick | @jessjurick WordCamp Milwaukee 2015 Communicating Estimates • Shared Task Lists • 10000ft • Resource & Capacity Reports • Project Reporting Dashboard
  22. 22. Jess Jurick | @jessjurick WordCamp Milwaukee 2015 10000ft Forecasting Tool
  23. 23. Jess Jurick | @jessjurick WordCamp Milwaukee 2015 Project Reporting Dashboard Internal Estimate Tracking
  24. 24. Jess Jurick | @jessjurick WordCamp Milwaukee 2015 Why does all this matter? • Estimates inform process and vice versa. If our estimates aren’t good, our processes can’t really be either. • Estimates that clearly define risk, expected outcomes, and places for further discovery inspire confidence from our clients and, ultimately, in our own ability to deliver with quality. • Approaching estimates as hypotheses feels better. When something feels better we have more confidence in our ability to do it successfully and, as a result, often do.
  25. 25. Jess Jurick | @jessjurick WordCamp Milwaukee 2015 Thank You • Work for us: jobs@10up.com • Work with us: sales@10up.com • Tweet me: @jessjurick • Leave comments: simplecanv.as

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