project estimation process

Five-step project estimation process

Software project development consists of many stages. Major part of its success depends upon proper estimation. The very process of project planning is quite cumbersome and hard to perform due to web project estimation challenges. It is not just one more minor task for a successful project manager to deal with, but a crucial part of project planning.

With over 10 years of experience, we’ve made numerous estimation for a great number of projects. Some of them were rather hard to perform, but we’ve managed it successfully. So we want to share our experience of how we manage the project estimation process in our company.

What does project estimation process include

The process of estimation takes approximately 20% of the time spent on the whole project. Estimating a project means evaluating the time needed to complete all the requirements and the cost of a project. The pitfall of project estimation is that it is hard to name the price and due day even after a thorough investigation. The accurate amount of time needed for a project to be done can be named only after its completion. Estimating wrong means you can’t meet deadlines and budgets. This leads to project break down.

What should be considered when estimating a project

There are several points to take into account for successful project estimation.

  1. First of all, the scope of work to be done. You need to discuss all the demands and agree on them. Thus, you will understand what you are expected to deliver and can judge the approximate time for that.
  2. Secondly, mind your resources. Whether a project will be worked on by a junior or senior developer makes a huge difference. This is a point to consider while estimating, as less experienced developers will spend more time on a task that the skilled ones will manage quickly.
  3. Thirdly, examine all possible risks. Think over circumstances that may influence the flow of your project or even delay its release. Of course, it is impossible to foresee what will happen even in the next minute. But at least try to take into account general risks.

Steps for project estimation

Suppose you’ve got a new project. Let’s assume the perfect conditions: your client knows what he or she wants, has a layout and TA. What are your next actions? Here’s what we at Wishdesk web development company do!

  • Develop site architecture

The first step is preparation. Here, we decide on website structure and build a sitemap. The most important aspect at this stage is to ponder how to make everything logical and accessible for the end-user. Of course, to do this, we clarify all the details with a client. We discover their needs and offer practical solutions to issues. We determine the purpose of the site and give advice on how to develop it.

For example, if a website is aimed at dynamic content, we suggest you put an emphasis on handy content management. This will allow people who are responsible for content update do their work with ease and quick. Moreover, the company will be free from additional expenses on professional help with content.

  • Perform element by element estimation

After deciding WHAT you are going to do, the next reasonable step is to divide one large task into small parts. At this stage we estimate each element of a project separately. Mostly, we manage web projects using Scrum methodology. It presupposes breaking up the whole project into its constituent tasks and determine a set time to do a limited number of them (sprint).

What does this give us? Instead of messing up with multiple tasks simultaneously, we separate them, prioritize and follow the “To Do,” “In Progress,” and “Done” principle. It is much easier to decide on how much time is needed to do a small amount of work than estimate the whole project.

  • Estimate page making

The next stage is to estimate the markup. The project development consists of a backend and a frontend. The first part takes 40% of overall development time, while the second takes 60%. Thus, we should asses the time needed for finishing the final page. This is a process of joining all the work done together and giving a website an attractive appearance.

  • Include QA and administrative expenses

Quality assurance and testing is a quarter of development. Checking if everything works properly is crucial, as it is correlated with the quality of a product. The average time spent on testing is 1-2 days, but everything depends on the project size.

One more aspect to include in project estimation is administrative expenses. Do not forget about the work of PM, DevLeads and TechLeads. Moreover, you should keep in mind the time spent on communication among team members, especially if they work remotely or distant from each other.

  • Determine risks

The power of proper risk estimation lies in an ability to predict unpredictable situations and, if possible, prevent them. Or, at least, backup time for the solution. A successful project result is based on three pillars: meeting budgets, meeting deadlines and releasing a high-quality product. Mostly risks are connected with time and money. But, regardless of cost cuts or due-date shifts, a quality product should not suffer.

Here are some more risks to consider in project estimation:

  1. Change of requirements. A client wanted one thing, but after the process of development began and moved up, they decide they want something else. This is quite a typical situation. A good PM should take it in into account in advance.
  2. Personnel changes. Especially on a long term project, the issue of staff shift should be considered. Apart from hiring a new developer to prevent delays, you should make sure that project resources are accessible by all employers.
  3. Operational risks. The development of a project may slip because of improper explanation of duties and responsibilities. Sometimes, procrastination takes place because there’s a conflict of priorities or process implementation.
  4. Inevitable risks. Some risks are possible to plan while others not. Among these risks are government policy changes, software senescence and the loss of a contract. Though these risks can’t be avoided, it is still possible to reduce their impact.

All in all, project estimation is a time-consuming, albeit a responsible, process. There are so many points to consider and not to get confused with. It is a task for a real pro. We’ve described how we at Wishdesk estimate our projects and hope this information will be useful.

If you need a project to be estimated – send us a task and we will do it ASAP.


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