Refine Your Estimation Practices With Top-Down Allocations

Don’t let bad estimates ruin good work.

Onsite Workshop

Bad project estimates:

  • Cause overruns that compound budgeting problems.
  • Shrink scope, diminish quality, increase costs, and decrease customer satisfaction.
  • Damage employee engagement and confidence in their capabilities.

Improving your estimation practices:

  • Boosts team morale and improves product throughput.
  • Provides clarity to project sponsors and allows for negotiations and discussions around project requests.
  • Helps contain the impacts of risks and issues without damaging the rest of the portfolio.

Module 1: Develop the Foundations of Organizational Memory

The Purpose

  • Track key performance indicators on past projects to inform goals for future projects.

Key Benefits Achieved

  • Developed Project History List.
  • Refined starting estimates that can be adjusted accurately from project to project.

Activities: Outputs:
1.1 Build project history.
  • Project History List
1.2 Analyze estimation capabilities.
  • T-Shirt Sizing Health Check
1.3 Identify estimation goals.
  • Estimate Tracking Plan

Module 2: Define a Requirements Gathering Process

The Purpose

  • Outline the common attributes required to complete projects.
  • Identify the commonly forgotten attributes to ensure comprehensive scoping early on.

Key Benefits Achieved

  • Refined initial estimate based on high-level insights into work required and resources available.

Activities: Outputs:
2.1 Develop a list of in-scope project attributes.
  • Identified list or store of past project attributes and costs
2.2 Identify leadership priorities for deliverables and attributes.
  • Attribute List and Estimated Cost
  • Required Skills List
2.3 Track team and skill responsibilities for attributes.

Module 3: Build an Estimation Process

The Purpose

  • Set clear processes for tracking the health of your estimate to ensure it is always as accurate as possible.
  • Define check-in points to evaluate risks and challenges to the project and identify trigger conditions.

Key Benefits Achieved

  • An estimation process rooted in organizational memory and lessons learned.
  • Project estimates that are consistently reevaluated to predict and correct challenges before they can drastically affect your projects.

Activities: Outputs:
3.1 Determine Milestone Check-In Points.
  • Project Lessons Learned Template
3.2 Develop Lessons Learned Meeting Agendas.
3.3 Identify common risks and past lessons learned.
  • Historic Risks and Lessons Learned Master Template
3.4 Develop contingency tracking capabilities.
  • Contingency Reserve and Risk Registers

Module 4: Improve Business Alignment With Your Estimation Plan

The Purpose

  • Bridge the gap between death march projects and bloated and uncertain estimates by communicating expectations and assumptions clearly to your sponsors.

Key Benefits Achieved

  • Clear estimation criteria and assumptions aligned with business priorities.
  • Post-mortem discussion items crucial to improving project history knowledge for next time.

Activities: Outputs:
4.1 Identify leadership risk priorities.
  • Estimation Quotation
4.2 Develop IT business alignment.
  • Risk Priority Rankings
4.3 Develop hand-off procedures and milestone approval methods.
  • Hand-Off Procedures
4.4 Create a list of post-mortem priorities.
  • Post-mortem agenda planning

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