This question, about a project deadline, is from a reader.
I have just done a project estimate. My manager wants me to cut it, as it will not be acceptable to his management or customers.
Dr. McLaughlin‘s Answer
If you cut the estimate, the chances are that either you‘ll be out of a job, or your career will have been destroyed by the end of the Project.
Does that help stiffen your backbone?
You must get some ammunition to back up your estimate.
Have you estimated before?
Don’t cut your project deadline.
Project Estimates Versus Actual
If you have, get some data on your estimates versus the actuals. I guarantee that the actuals will be higher.
Also get some productivity data, using Function Point Analysis, on previous projects at your place. Use them to back up your estimates. Productivity, on previous projects will be even lower than you thought.
Again, get benchmark industry productivity standards for the tools that you are using.
Outside Expert for Project Deadline
Something else that you might want to do is to suggest to management that you get in an outside expert to analyse your estimates. Management will always go for that, because, no matter the company, they always think that all the best people exist outside their IT department.
The outside expert will be even more cautious than you. That’s because he, or she, would much rather be over than under.
If you do all or some of these, you will have enough information to face down your management.
However, this is the real world and your company needs to win business.
Tell them that the estimate stands in stone, and will be recorded, but that you understand that you need to put in place a commercial quote and set a target that is different from the estimate.
Let Commercial People Cut Project Deadline Quote
Allow the commercial people to cut the quote. This puts the pressure on them rather than you. They take the strain then.
If the commercial quote overruns, and the result comes out close to your estimate, then they will take the flack. Your job is not to produce a commercial quote, but to produce an estimate.
Remember that simple sentence or your career will be over.
Cutting the Estimate
If you cut your estimate to what is acceptable to the commercial people, nobody will remember that you made an estimate much higher in the beginning.
Even if you bring the subject up later and say that you told them so, they will say that you should have been more forceful in sticking to it, and that you are a bit weak.
Once the commercial people have put in place a quote, this can become a target for the developers – not to be confused with your estimate. Virtually all IT estimators will cut their estimates for their management and the commercial people.
This will become the new project deadline.
That‘s why there are so many doomed projects, and so many doomed Project Managers and IT managers.
Very few resist, and very few last long!
For more advice on your contracting career click on Contractor Career Advice. There are 34 articles on it.
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