Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Estimating time for a technical project

On occasion, though you should try to avoid this, you will be asked to estimate how long it will take to complete a complex project. This guide should help you estimate time frames more accurately.

  1. Take a good look at the project.

  2. Break the project down into a series of tasks.

  3. Estimate how long each task is likely to take.

  4. Pad the estimates by about 10%. This takes into account small interruptions.

  5. Now for each task, take the padded estimate and double that time. Almost every large project runs into some unexpected difficulties.

  6. Now for the whole project, add about another 50% to the overall time. This is the estimate that you give your boss or the client.

You can, and should, try to keep to your first time estimate. However, the estimate you tell others will give you a lot of time to have things go wrong and still get everything done on time.

If you can get things done between your initial time estimate and the final one, everyone will think you're brilliant since your project is done on time.


  1. Lynn, this is your project supervisor. We need to talk. Please be in my office in 5 minutes.

  2. :-) Sorry, my time line left no time for meetings for this project. Catch me during the next one.