How many of us have spent exasperating times when deadlines that are too tight loom large over our heads leading to frayed nerves, overworked souls and unhappy bosses and clients? Chances are, that incorrect time and effort estimation was the main culprit behind this predicament. Time and effort estimations play a very important role in project management since without them it is hard to to decide the individual timelines, get team members to commit and also deliver the project on time. When looked at collectively, all of these factors are joint contributors to employee productivity which impact profitability.
Understanding the difference between actual effort vs estimated effort thus becomes an important aspect of project management. While making the basic estimates it is essential to keep in mind:
- Requirement mapping and scope of work
- The time needed to complete each individual task
- List of relevant assumptions, exclusions and constraints
- Productivity timelines
Effort analytics plays a big role in the entire project lifecycle management. It becomes essential to identify actual effort against estimated effort in order to increase work efficiency and manage the cost-to- serve since these directly impact the profit margins.
By optimally using effort analytics, project managers can allocate resources correctly and ensure that the workforce is engaged and not overworked. For example, the project manager needs to ensure his team consists of people who have the bandwidth to deliver the said project in the decided timeline without having to work ridiculously long hours. Better resource utilization ensures better work output and timely deliverables.
Instead of relying on assumptions regarding the workload of the employees, managers need to look at actual analytics to determine the team strength required to flawlessly execute a project. By doing so, they can maximize employee utilization by keeping fewer employees on the bench and eliminate negative overhead costs.
No employee can be productive 100% of the time but there are other ways to increase workplace productivity. Project managers need to take this into consideration when they plan the deadlines to prevent employee burnout. It becomes extremely essential for a manager to distinguish between a project size and effort required. If a team is over extending itself, it is productive on the surface. However, there will be certain hidden costs involved such as low work quality, poor work-life balance and eventually employee attrition, all of which impact company profitability.
Using effort analytics also helps in delivery management of projects since it allows project managers to supervise project progress and avoid slippages, eliminate unprofitable project practices which in turn avoids budget overruns. This helps in timely project completion and in avoiding situations where teams have to spend additional hours to complete a project without charging additionally.
It becomes crucial for any project manager to have a clear concept of actual effort vis-à-vis estimated effort as this can be the tipping point of any project. Using effort analytics wisely will not only ensure improved profitability but will also guarantee that the workforce is optimally engaged, satisfied and happy.