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Estimating Required Work Effort

When managing a project, you need to determine how much work effort is required for a given task. Estimating work effort helps you staff your project properly. For all work packages, estimate the work effort that each person has to invest, and enter the numbers in the appropriate boxes in the Human Resources Matrix.

As you develop your work-effort estimates, do the following:

  • Describe in detail all work related to performing the activity: Include work directly and indirectly related:

    • Examples of work directly related to an activity include writing a report, meeting with clients, performing a laboratory test, and designing a new logo.

    • Examples of indirectly related work include training to perform activity-related work and preparing periodic activity-progress reports.

  • Consider history: Past history doesn’t guarantee future performance, but it does provide a guideline for what’s possible. Determine whether a work package has been done before. If it has, review written records to determine the work effort spent on it. If written records weren’t kept, ask people who’ve done the activity before to estimate the work effort they invested.

    When using prior history to support your estimates, make sure

    • The people who performed the work had qualifications and experience similar to those of the people who’ll work on your project.

    • The facilities, equipment, and technology used were similar to those that’ll be used for your project.

    • The time frame was similar to the one you anticipate for your project.

  • Have the person who’ll actually do the work participate in estimating the amount of work effort that will be required: Having people contribute to their work-effort estimates provides the following benefits:

    • Their understanding of the activity improves.

    • The estimates are based on their particular skills, knowledge, and prior experience, which make them more accurate.

    • Their commitment to do the work for that level of work effort increases.

    If you know who’ll be working on the activity, have those people participate during the initial planning. If people don’t join the project team until the start of or during the project, have them review and comment on the plans you’ve developed. Then update your plans as needed.

  • Consult with experts familiar with the type of work you need done on your project: Even if they haven’t performed work exactly like it before, experts can contribute to an accurate estimate. Incorporating experience and knowledge from different sources improves the accuracy of your estimate.

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