The Project Group, LLC
The Project Group, LLC Newsletter
  Advancing Project Management December 2002  

in this issue

Check Out Our Updated Website

The Three Estimating Paradoxes

Effort, Duration, and Calendar Time Are Not The Same

Estimating Types

Task Duration Is Affected By Resources

Estimating Secrets

Final Estimating Thoughts

Check Out Our Updated Website

We have just completed an overhaul of our website www.theproject

Besides the new look we have added a search engine that will search not only the website site, but also our Newsletter Archives.

The Nuts & Bolts of Project Management

We specialize in assisting corporate and government clients in learning to improve their productivity while planning and executing projects.

Our three-phase approach yields faster more efficient project initiation, planning and execution results.

We also offer a one-day class on Microsoft Project 2002TM for users wanting to improve their productivity in using the software.

We offer this monthly newsletter free to all who are interested. To subscribe, click on the link below.

Click Here To Subscribe


Each month our newsletter will delve into a specific step in the phases of Initiation, Planning and Execution of projects. Our methodology is applicable to any project in any industry. Our systematic approach to Project Management is designed to help your company's projects gain traction quickly, communicate clearly to all parties and keep them on track to reach a successful conclusion.

This newsletter focuses on Process 5: Estimating Task Duration within the Planning phase.

  • The Three Estimating Paradoxes
  •   An estimate is a guess...
    you are required to commit to as fact.

    Work is not compressible...
    yet somehow, work gets compressed.

    Estimating can be done only when you clearly understand the work to be done...
    but you must make estimates before you fully understand the work.

  • Effort, Duration, and Calendar Time Are Not The Same
  •   Effort
    Time it takes to complete a task assuming the work is without breaks

    Effort plus gaps of non-work

    Calendar Time
    Duration plus statutory non-work periods (nights, week-ends, holidays)


  • "Pure effort" is only possible on short tasks
  • Is hard to ascertain because work is prone to interruption
  • Is usually measured in hours

  • Is usually the response to "How long will it take?"
  • May be hard to ascertain amidst all other job responsibilities
  • Is usually measured in days

    Calendar Time
  • Needs to be verified for particular project environment: "Will we work week-ends?"
  • Is aided by scheduling software

  • Estimating Types
  •   As you begin estimating your tasks, we suggest you charaterize them as either Strategic, Planning or Tactical.

    Strategic Estimates
  • Are used to give a 'go/no go' decision on investigation of a project
  • Accuracy is plus or minus 100%
  • Answers the question, Is this task a mouse or an elephant?

    Planning Estimates
  • Are given to task owners to refine
  • Accuracy is plus or minus 25%

    Tactical Estimates

  • Are what task owners can commit to
  • Accuracy is plus or minus 5%

  • Task Duration Is Affected By Resources
  •   Resource-Driven Tasks
  • Duration decreases as more resources are added
  • Often "blue collar" or clerical tasks
  • Might increase in duration with multiple resources

    "Fixed" Duration Tasks

  • Duration is not dependent on resources
  • "Information Work" is usually in this category
  • Can be affected by hidden waits and delays

    Beware! Popular project management software often defaults to the Resource- Driven task type. This mathematically shortens a task duration as resources are added.

  • Estimating Secrets
  • Make sure you know what the task involves
  • Use some methodology that justifies the estimate
  • Cut your estimating time in half by doing Planning Level estimating now and refine your estimates later when you know which tasks could delay your project (Critical Path).

  • Final Estimating Thoughts
  •   An estimate should contain data to determine what will happen, not what we would like to happen.

    Click Here To View Previous Newsletters

     ::  email us
     ::  visit our site

    phone: 415-572-3084