There are several rules for success in cost estimating, a senior project management consultant told attendees of a webinar that WPL Publishing held Sept. 27. Consultant Doug Findley outlined these rules during the two-hour event, entitled “Avoid Project Failure: Take Time to Plan the Project -- 13 Proven Steps to Success.” Here are the seven rules for success in cost estimating that he provided:
- Include as many of the project team in the cost-estimating process as possible.
- Structure the cost-estimating process with rules and parameters to be used by the project team in the process. “Don’t let people develop all sorts of different processes for putting together an estimate. Give them a form, tell them what you want them to do, and give them the scope of work they’re to do it for.”
- To the extent possible, those who will execute the activity should determine the work involved and the associated costs.
- Try to decompose the deliverables into shorter activities with shorter durations. “The longer the activity, the harder it is for somebody to see the discreet variables. The shorter, the easier it is for them to say that’s a five-day activity, that’s a six-day activity, rather than a 120-day activity.”
- Make sure that activities with a high degree of uncertainty are added to the Risk Register. “That should be done in parallel.”
- Move quickly through the first cost-estimating pass. The second and subsequent passes are used to further define and refine the individual activity cost estimate.
- Always have an estimate owner commit to the estimates because these estimates will later be made into activity budgets. “That’s why it’s important to use the people who are going to execute the work to do the cost estimating for you.”
During his presentation, Findley also addressed several other topics, including the scope definition process, contracts and the Work Breakdown Structure, organization and communication planning, staff acquisition, and other areas.