My ex-husband always made us late for appointments because he’d estimate time “as the crow flies” – not ever taking into consideration red lights, kids having to go to the bathroom, wrong turns or any of the other things that cut into time estimates. Ray was an engineer – a damn good one at that!When consulting into High Tech firms, I note over and over again that estimates are always (I know, always is a horrible word – but it seems to me it is always) too short on time. Engineers of all kinds don’t take potential problems into account when deciding how long a project will take to complete.
Among the other problems that often occurs is that of procurement not getting the necessary parts on time, or someone else in the lab taking over the equipment needed to work on a project, or someone critical to the project being out sick for days at a time, or and or and or…. It’s always something that wasn’t taken into consideration.
Too, both sales people and engineers want to please. The sales staff wants to get the order and by promising early delivery is more competitive. The technical staff wants to show their cooperation and competence and so under-estimates the amount of time the project will really take.
Every one is upset because the undre-estimating leads to over-extending and over-commiting people and of course causing them to have to work overtime.
Build in contingencies for problems – and the usual 10% is often not enough. Really consider what has gone wrong in the past and what could go wrong on this project before commiting to a time line.
ArLyne Diamond, Ph.D. – Diamond Associates – www.DiamondAssociates.net