Workable project and task estimates are a matter of experience and practice. To stay objective when creating the timeline, you need to know your team’s competencies and availability as the back of your hand and even better. When new clients knock at your doors, they expect you to give them an estimate as soon as possible, if not on the spot. The more accurate the estimate is, the better for you and your client.
Often, an accurate project estimate, further used to calculate the project budget, is the sum of estimated tasks and costs assigned to them. With a lot of thinking and manual work involved, estimation is a very time-consuming process. In this article, we’ll show you how to save time on task, project, and budget estimation, using one trick, recently built-in to the Forecast platform.
Why are task estimations important?
The importance of task estimations in project management can’t be overemphasized. Naturally, a task estimate is a small puzzle that in the end, together with other task estimates, contributes to the big picture.
In fact, without estimations, project managers wouldn’t be able to sell their vision to anyone. Estimations help to predict the end date of the project, play an important role in the project planning and scheduling process, and are key to managing client expectations. If you know how long each task will take the team to complete – that’s what everyone is so curious to know – you can build a solid project plan and budget. True, isn’t it?
Having a clear estimation process gives you and your team the needed clarity, structure, and a sort of a threshold for their work.
Challenges in estimating tasks
But despite the importance of estimating tasks, we’re never able to tell for sure how much time the task will take us to complete. There are so many factors to consider, like competencies of the performer, task complexity, or even dependencies, that a human brain can hardly process them all to produce a down-to-earth number. What you should definitely try to prevent is an estimate being the final product of your guesswork.
In the perfect world, we’d be able to estimate a project in a day or two. Everyone would like to have a time estimation calculator for a better understanding of how fast a project can be finished, taking into account competencies, schedules, and risks.
The truth is that time estimations have been and still remain the hassle for everyone.
Automating the task estimation process
What if I tell you it has become possible to automate the estimation process?
To help companies become better at project planning and estimating time more accurately and efficiently, Forecast has developed Auto Schedule. This feature automatically estimates tasks, assigns resources, and sets deadlines for your project relying on loads of historical data it learned from you or other projects in the system. It activates your task list and instantly transforms it into a reliable project timeline.
The only thing you need to do is to break down your project into milestones and tasks, and Auto Schedule will do the rest. But it doesn’t stop there. Auto Schedule is not just a simple calculator. Its decision is partially based on resource availability. It understands that people can’t be in two places simultaneously. Below the timeline you’ve created, you’ll see how it affects the team’s schedule and who becomes over- or underbooked. From there, you can regulate the schedule to make it work for everyone.
Achieving reasoning in forecasting
There’s definitely a time-saving element Auto Schedule brings to the project manager’s work, but it’s also beneficial for operation directors and finance managers, who will notice an uplift of accuracy in forecasting and improve utilization and efficiency. Managing projects in Forecast, you’ll start to see the benefits immediately, as AI will study your team's history and suggest better project estimates in the future. Your team, if not even asked, will always be the part of the estimation process, let alone data Forecast has been collecting for all those years, for you to benefit from it now.
Managing change requests
What about the scope creep, you might think? There’s no need to worry that your nearly perfect project plan will have no effect after change requests from clients appear. You can re-apply Auto Schedule at any time and accommodate the plan without much manual effort and immediately see the outcome of changes months into the future.
If based on your experience, you’re sure about the duration of certain tasks, you’re welcome to fill in some of your estimates before or after hitting the Auto Schedule button. Your knowledge and experience will only make the AI on the platform better.
The ability to manage expectations by communicating more realistic timelines will contribute to the client’s trust and improve relationships with all stakeholders. The feasibility of your timeline, however, will always depend on the accuracy of task estimates. Embrace change now by starting a free trial today.