When will you be ready?
When you are in charge of a project, then it’s inevitable that someone asks you at an early stage when everything will be ready. That someone will probably be the person that assigned the project to you. He or she now expects to hear a date of completion. A reasonable question, of course, but often it is simply too early to make a good estimate.
The most normal thing to do would be to give the answer as soon as you know, in reasonable detail, what it is that they want you to deliver. To be able to make a good estimate you need time to determine what it is that you’re expected to do and then design how you’re going to do it.
In a perfect world, nobody would mind that you have to take the time to determine how long everything will take. But in reality, people do mind. So if they ask you, they expect an answer. This is one of the most difficult tasks of a project manager, you know you have to make a promise, but you don’t know if you can keep it.
All too often I’ve seen this lead to failure. Results don’t meet expectations. The estimate at the beginning was too optimistic. We all know the examples of projects that take forever, and of projects without results.
What can you do to live up to expectations?
For a long time, I thought the best thing to do was to convince people at an early stage that I needed time to make good estimates, and to make a good design how we were going to handle everything. But that didn’t work out like I hoped it would. As soon as someone asked me when the project would finish, I explained the process of how to make a good estimate, beginning with getting detailed information about what it was the person opposite from me wanted me to deliver.
That, of course, wasn’t what they wanted to hear. They just wanted me to name a date.
In this week’s video, I explain what I’ve often done to solve this. It’s proven to be a very successful approach. It has a lot to do with Timeboxing. That means: setting a fixed date and then determining what you can do before that date arrives.
More in today’s video. I hope you enjoy watching it.
See you next week!