The project plan estimating dilemma

We’ve all been there. Putting together a plan, either something big and formal or something quick and simple. Then you look at the work planned that is off into the future. And you think ‘will I need all of that time?’.


And sometimes that work will need to be done by someone else. Are you more willing to compromise the planned allowance of time when it’s somebody else’s allocation?
How very naughty of you!

But it’s a legitimate conundrum. When you’re estimating your own work you have more of a handle on how reliable your estimate is likely to be, generally. But when it’s someone else’s estimate then it’s natural to be sceptical. Better, however, to ask what their estimate is based upon. Are they being optimistic? Pessimistic? Accounting for risks? Winging it?

future work plan

Then there’s the trap that can catch any of us out. We declare a need for a specific amount of time. Then that allowance gets vastly reduced. But, even with the tiny timescale, you still manage to get the task done. Phew!


Next time around, should you keep the reduced timescale? Should you adjust your future estimates? Did the reduction in time add pressure? Did it cause emotional damage? Did it compromise relationships? Would it be sensible to reduce the timescale in the future?

As an example of this scenario, check out the video below. The story of how the effort of one man featured in the film project of Aliens. He had a planned allowance to create the film score – but things didn’t go as expected.

From how things turned out what would you do differently next time? If you were looking after the film project, how would you have dealt with the score composer and the film director?

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