Estimating is part science and part art.
In this video, I provide some guidance on how to strengthen your estimating capabilities.
Good Work Estimates
The work estimates you as a BA provide as part of the project, feed into the Project Manager’s project plan.
These are the two things good work estimates always have and are communicated to the Project Manager:
What Are Work Estimates in Business Analysis:
- Providing work estimates involves taking into account the specific tasks and activities that must be completed and knowing how long these work items take to complete.
- In business analysis, your work estimate is based on the analysis portion of the project and how long those activities, tasks and items will take to complete.
You must keep in mind work estimating is not clear cut and it’s a fuzzy part of the profession.
Work Estimating Process
- Stage 1: Provide your estimates based on the work that needs to be done and what resources are available.
- Stage 2: Gut Check by Project Manager – PM’s will check your estimates based on their own understanding of the type of work you do. (Keep in mind PM’s will squeeze you, traditionally)
- Stage 3: Your estimate is challenged by the PM.
- Stage 4: Defending your work estimates when they’re challenged by the PM.
When Your Work Estimates Are Challenged
PM: How long will your portion of the project take to finish?
Wait – Don’t answer that question so fast!
There are situations you’ll come across where a project manager will ask you to provide a work estimate under a lot of pressure and under tight time constraints.
Whatever the situation may be, you’re tempted to give an answer just to satisfy the question at hand full well knowing you’re not absolutely sure yourself. So you quickly google “work estimating techniques” + “business analysis”.
BA: (swallows) “..3 Months, yes about 3 months based on my estimates.”
Remember, work estimating is part science and part art. Just because you googled “work estimating techniques” and read an article or perhaps found a template, you don’t magically become a BA that provides good work estimates.
Good work estimating comes with time, experience and over many iterations.
Your Project Manager doesn’t take your estimates at face value
PM’s need to hear from you as the BA how you have assessed the scope of your work items and the assumptions you have made for each of the work items.
Good business analysts know that Project Management has an area of study called Progressive Elaboration.
What this means for the BA and for the Project at hand?
- Everything PM’s put in the project plan is just an estimate until the work actually gets done.
- Things always change as we move through a project. (work items completed faster, certain tasks take longer, etc.)
- Project Manager’s will rarely leave you with the impression that these estimates will change as everyone moves through the project.
You may feel that you’re locked in and may feel what you say will eventually be held against you.
This is where progressive elaboration comes in.