Misassembly is dangerous because your desk chair could come crashing to pieces. Misapplication can be dangerous as well, especially with self-tanner. Despite these horrors, project managers have an even more alarming “mis” to worry about — “misestimation.”
Estimating incorrectly can set you up to go over-budget, over-time, or even over-the-edge. But despite your best efforts, it’s hard to estimate accurately because you’re estimating. That’s kind of the point.
Fortunately, this paradox can be solved, and you don’t need to worry about mishaps while you do it. Here’s how project management software can help you avoid misestimation:
1. Learn From Past Mistakes
One great advantage of project management software is that it allows you to use past “estimated/actual” data on projects similar to your own to help you estimate accurately. This is especially important because, as human beings, we’re often victims of our own “optimism bias.”
Example: “We can totally roll out that new piece of software in two months flat!” This kind of mindset sets you up to fail with your budget and schedule estimation, and often leads to an inferior product that may or may not meet specifications.
2. Prevent Misunderstanding
Those who allocate budgets are a tricky sort. They often assume that project managers have written “buffers” into their cost estimations, so they cut down allocations to what they believe to be the actual cost. That’s all fine unless you actually didn’t build a buffer and find yourself with inadequate funds to deliver.
PM software can address these incorrect assumptions by helping you to foresee the resources your project will need and estimate their costs accurately. It then allows you to record this information in an organized way so that those in control of the budget can see exactly what you will need, why you need it, and how much it should cost. In this way, project management software helps you get the resources you need to succeed.
3. Don’t Miss Possible Pitfalls
You could also come up short if you encounter unexpected difficulties. These can be especially hard to foresee because, by definition, they’re unexpected. Once again, that’s kind of the point. Though project management software can’t protect you from everything, it can help ensure that you consider approvals, licenses, and critical checkpoints to limit the scope of what is unexpected.
In addition, many project management solutions contain risk-analysis and risk-tracking functions to further guard against bad surprises.
4. Avoid Misrepresentation
Oftentimes, enthusiastic stakeholders exaggerate the plausibility, profitability, or affordability of a project. Sometimes this is accidental, sometimes it’s purposeful, but in both cases it can set up those who agree to execute it for a rude awakening.
Project management solutions often require you to input information that helps you to view abstract things like plausibility in concrete terms. For example, if a client says that there is adequate time to get the project going, but a list of deliverables reveals that the client wants over 50 in the first week, you can easily see a discrepancy. In this way, project management software functions ensure that all parties are in-the-know as they form expectations.
5. Don’t Misjudge the Impact
The high-level view that project management software will give you is a great way to anticipate the long-term costs of a project. It will remind you to consider questions like: How much will it cost to maintain the systems and infrastructures we put in place? Are there systems being installed that will require frequent maintenance, updates, or replacement? What kind of staff will be required to run the PMO? These questions need to be considered for you to know what costs look like in the long run.
To recap: PM software can help you more accurately estimate time, costs, budget, scope, pitfalls, and results.
Looking for Project Management software? Check out Capterra's list of the best Project Management software solutions.