DataChick’s Magic Math Formula for Estimating a Task

Feb 9, 2012   //   by Karen Lopez   //   Blog, Project Management, Snark  //  1 Comment
A basic estimating spreadsheet.

Image via Wikipedia

Some people recommend you do fancy planning, figuring out all your tasks and estimating how long each will take, adding them all up, then adding a planning factor of 2-4 times that number to come up with a good estimate. Doug Lane (@thedouglane | blog ) even blogged about his experience in getting that estimation technique to work.

But if you really want to nail it (and look like a miracle worker), use Karen’s magic math formula:

1) ask your gut how long it really thinks it will take.
2) double that*
3) increase the unit of measure by one.

So applying this formula: If you gut says “2 hours”, double that to 4 hours…then increase the hours to days. This brings you to the more reliable figure of 4 days.

* if you have a particularly bad boss or project manager, you may need to increase the multiplier for more reliability.  Perhaps you could add up all the times in a 24 hour period you think of quitting and use that as your boss factor.

You will thank me one day.

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