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5 Tips for Improving Project Time and Cost Estimates


Estimates are among the most important aspects of a project that you will deal with, regardless of the client that you're trying to please or even the industry that you're trying to operate in. You would never start out on a cross country road trip without knowing how long it would take you to reach your destination and how much money it will cost to get there. In terms of project management, improving your project time and cost estimates are a few of the key ways to avoid these detrimental situations altogether.

Getting Risk Under Control

Remember that risks that haven't been properly identified or addressed are one of the ways that projects run over budget and over time. By practicing proper risk management techniques at all stages of the project, you put yourself in a better position to make more accurate estimates as well.

Be Realistic

The people that you've selected for your team cannot be expected to do the impossible, regardless of how talented they may actually be. One of the most important things that you can do to improve your project time and cost estimates is be realistic about how much things will cost and how long they will take in the first place.

Plan, Plan, Plan

To say that planning in general is an important element of estimating project time and cost specifications is something of an understatement. If you want your estimates to be as accurate as they can possibly be, you need to get comfortable planning as early in the process as possible. You also need to be willing to adjust those plans as variables change.

Multiple Estimates

Another great way to improve your project time and cost estimates is to actually generate multiple sets of estimates for each of these categories. This way, you can then look for the common element between them to help identify not only certain areas where progress can be delayed, but also similar types of stumbling blocks for time as well.

Contingency Plans

Another way to improve your project time and cost estimates involves making sure that contingency plans are in place for various points in the process. This is like heading out on a road trip with two routes in mind - the one that you plan on using and the one that you can quickly switch to in the event that you run into traffic.

Your project time and cost estimates are every bit as much an art as they are a science. Only by being realistic, understanding what you're working with and having a clear end goal in sight will you have a chance of having the most accurate estimates possible at the outset of the project.

Key Takeaways:

  • Project time and cost estimates are directly related - if one is wrong, you can essentially guarantee that the other will be, too.
  • Accurate project time and cost estimates are one of the most important functions that project managers complete on a daily basis.

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