WHY ESTIMATE TIME?
Simple: To stay on time and on budget. Estimating time will help you comply with the deadlines you set and, by sticking to them, you will certainly be more reliable and trustworthy to the eyes of your clients.
It also helps as a guide: you can tell member’s of staff that they should not be allocating more than X amount of hours to a specific task. For this though, you need to set feasible and realistic estimates not to trigger stress!
Remember that estimating time is a skill. And, certainly, not an easy one. One usually tends to underestimate than to overestimate, which can sometimes be dangerous (take too long and you have an angry client or boss; instead, if overestimating, at least you will be delivering things before expected). Notice, however, that overestimating is not the answer either: you may loose potential clients along the way.
Alas! What a dilemma!
HOW TO ESTIMATE TIME (ACCURATELY!)
Divide and Conquer
Tracking Time features Project Task Lists, Tasks and To-dos to help you break down projects and make them manageable. Your estimates will be more accurate if you start from the bottom-up: instead of beginning by estimating time for an entire Project, start by setting an estimate for each task, and then add them together.
Know your team and engage them
Tracking Time User Skills help you delegate the right tasks to the right people: knowing what you are delegating and to whom will help you estimate time more accurately. If you assign a task involving Java Script to somebody that has been tracking that skill for 1,000 hours, the time estimate will be shorter than if you choose to assign the same task to somebody who has spent 200 hours on it.
Another important point is communicating with your team: Ask them how much they think they shall take on that specific task and let them set their own estimates and deadlines so they become more involved in the process. It will be their own estimates that they have to comply with and not estimates and deadlines imposed by others.
In doing this, you will also be developing team member’s estimating skills, which is not a minor detail, for it shall lead not only to more accurate projections and better productivity, but it will also encourage staff’s autonomy and self-reliance.
Burn and Learn
Once the Project is finished, compare the project and task estimates to the actual worked time using Tracking Time Reports. This powerful tool will be extremely useful for future projects and tasks.
Tracking Time Timelines are another way of learning from history . This will come in handy to evaluate how the project developed and when the milestones where reached. Timelines tell the story of the project and display labeled information. Remember: Hours don´t lie!