There’s no question more dreaded by employees all over than “How long do you think it will take?”. But time estimation at work can do wonders if you approach it with a positive mindset. Time estimation at work can do wonders if you approach it with a positive mindset. Click To Tweet
The estimation fear factor
People all share this deeply rooted fear of making commitments – work and private life alike. The very thought of setting any sort of obligation (hello deadlines!) makes us cringe inside in terror and misery. If anybody asks, we reply with elusive “it’s complicated” or “hard to say exactly, you know”. Stating our work time estimate out loud feels like a promise, followed by concerns of “what if I don’t make it” nature. To avoid the unpleasant feelings of self-doubt, we go to our comfort zones where timing is not a relevant factor. We start working right away, and hope to finish as soon as possible.
Out of control
The problem is especially pressing in teams of software developers. Programmers hate being controlled. Project managers breathing down their necks and deadlines looming on the horizon disturb the freedom and focus indispensable for the coding process. I understand it very well, as I am a developer myself. I struggled with estimating time on my work too, and often failed miserably trying to predict how long my tasks would take. Reluctantly, I gave random estimates, and almost always ended up with projects taking even 3 times longer than initially assumed.
A change of heart
Over the years I’ve been working with many IT teams and with time – drastically changed my approach to estimating time. I got experience both – the developer’s and the project manager’s perspective. And you know what I realized?Estimating time on IT tasks is crucial not for the project manager, but for the developer himself. Click To Tweet
Mindset is key
When I start working on a project, I begin with roughly assessing the time needed for each issue. I consider necessary tools, technology or programming languages, and write it down. It forms a checklist I can later go back to in order to check progress or make changes.
In Timble, estimation takes just a few moments. Information about time, used technology or priority can be added to each issue or task with a single click. Timble remembers the settings, and regularly reminds you when it’s time to start working or take a look back on what you’ve done so far.Establishing a certain time frame on your work is a great form of self-control that helps to avoid… Click To Tweet
Half time is usually the best checkpoint to review my approach, chosen methodology or consult with others. If I notice any problems– I can attend to them right away. It makes my work a whole lot easier. It’s my own mechanism of control, a safety valve to help me decide on the right technology, at the right time.
The magic of time estimates
For the developer, estimating time minimizes the risk of coming to a dead-end. For the project – it minimizes the risk of failure.
So if you’re a developer – don’t be afraid to plan your work. It will help you work more efficiently, and as a result – it will save you time.
If you’re a project manager – don’t try to control your team with deadlines. Provide support with real-life advice on estimating time. Instead of asking “When?”, say “Next time try to start your task this way”. Create an environment, where it’s the developers who own the time estimates, and not where the time estimates run the developers.
It’s a little step for IT professionals, and a great step for IT project management. Take it, and you will not be disappointed.