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Effort estimation in project management

I'm not sure I understand correctly the concept of effort estimation and what makes it different from scheduling. Is it that scheduling is a broader term that handles dependencies as well, while effort estimation is strictly about estimating how much time a task will take?

Finally, is effort estimation equivalent to work estimation?
asked 11 years ago by anonymous

1 Answer

Effort estimation is the same as work estimation.  Its the time it takes to complete the task, assuming you were working around the clock (or at least within the work day) and without interruption to do the work.

Scheduling takes into account hard dependencies (need to let the paint dry before hanging the pictures) and soft dependencies (Joe the Plumber isn't available until Thursday).

Scheduling also takes into account the number of resources.  Let's say you have an 8 hour task.  If two people can work on it simultaneously, you should be able to complete the task in 4 hours. So the duration of the tasks on your project may be smaller or larger than the actual effort.

These resources may be experienced or inexperienced.  They may take more or less than that 8 hour effort just because of their knowledge or skill level. This is a major concern for knowledge based projects (e.g. software).

Your schedule should also consider risk.  If work needs to stop because of rain or waiting for the delivery of a critical component, then you will need to have some additional time built into the schedule to manage this.

Finally, there will be a sprinkling of other concerns to add to the schedule cake.  These include deadlines, waiting periods for client responses, and so on.  

So at the end of the day, your schedule should be very different than the effort estimate.  One important note is that since the effort estimate should be a good faith estimate on the part of the team doing the work, its important not to change that (at least not without consulting the estimator) in order to meet a timeline.
answered 11 years ago by sdcapmp (45,840 points)

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