Becoming a Great Estimator

Workshop Objective: Everyone needs to estimate—but does anyone really know how? Sure, a few people in your organization are great estimators, but how did they get that way? In this workshop, you’ll learn about several estimation approaches, and practice them. You’ll learn how to obtain feedback on your estimates. You’ll learn what you need to do to become a great estimator. This workshop is based on my project management book: Manage It! Your Guide to Modern, Pragmatic Project Management.

Workshop Overview: You will learn and practice all of the non-counting approaches to estimation. You’ll gain knowledge and understanding of when to choose which type of estimation, how to work with chronic under- or over-estimators. You’ll learn how to check your estimates as you make them, and how to better your estimates as you proceed.

In this experiential workshop, we will work through several estimation problems, both planning and completing the tasks, so you see where your estimation blind spots are. We’ll debrief how you estimated and what you perceived worked well and what was not quite what you expected. We’ll also talk about how to get started and work with a team on estimation.

Target Audience: Project managers, program managers, functional managers, technical leads, product owners, technical project staff.

Prerequisites: Experience on a project

Workshop Duration: 2 days.

Workshop Outline:

  1. Introduction
    1. What estimation is and isn’t
    2. Elicit problems participants are dealing with now
    3. Why it’s worth learning to be a great estimator
  2. Estimation approaches
    1. Historical data
    2. Delphi and wideband delphi
    3. Separate sizing from duration (agile)
    4. Spike
    5. Hudson Bay Start
    6. How your estimation approach depends on your lifecycle
    7. Activities (several to practice the different kinds of estimation)
  3. Estimation tips and traps
    1. Estimation accuracy vs. precision
    2. When you don’t trust the estimate
    3. Tips to improve the chances of other people hearing your estimate
    4. Choose estimation units carefully
    5. Deliverable-based planning
    6. When to schedule milestone/iteration completion
    7. Inch-pebbles and how they can help
    8. Activity (several to practice)
  4. Estimation traps
    1. How to accurately estimate a serial (waterfall) lifecycle project
    2. How estimation can change the product backlog
    3. What to do when you have multitasked people
    4. More traps, depending on the needs of the group
    5. Activity (several to practice)
  5. Practice estimating project tasks
    1. Activity: estimate and debrief for several tasks
  6. Summary and Wrap-up

Contact me for the extended description or to book this workshop.

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