Time Management Training Newsletter – Estimating time accurately

by ltconsulting on October 4, 2011

With ever-increasing workloads and deadlines, the ability to manage our time has never been more important. Time management is a crucial factor in work and our time management courses are created to ensure that delegates can make their time keeping as efficient and effective as possible. We do this by supplying a time management training course that is full of tools and tips for improving time management, time planning, delegation, organisation and management strategies, managing meetings, managing e-mails as well as handling and using time effectively. Our time management course will cover subjects such as goal setting, improving organisation skills and managing time successfully. Our seminars are packed with useful tips and techniques that allow you to become a better time manager instantly.

Accurate time estimation is a skill essential to good project management. It is important to get time estimates right for two main reasons:

  1. Time estimates drive the setting of deadlines for delivery of projects, and hence peoples’ assessments of your reliability.
  2. They often determine the pricing of contracts and hence their profitability.

Usually people vastly underestimate the amount of time needed to implement projects. This is true particularly when they are not familiar with the task to be carried out.

They forget to take into account unexpected events or unscheduled high priority work. People also often simply fail to allow for the full complexity involved with a job.

Time estimates are important inputs into the other techniques used to organise and structure medium and large sized projects (Gantt charts and use of Critical Path Analysis). Both of these techniques reduce large projects down into a set of small projects.

Fully understanding the problem to solve
The first stage in estimating time accurately is to fully understand what you need to achieve. This involves reviewing the task in detail so that there are no unknowns. Inevitably it is the difficult-to-understand, tricky problems that take the greatest amount of time to solve.

The best way to review the job is to list all tasks in full detail.

Estimating time

You can only start to estimate time accurately when you have a detailed list of all the tasks that you must achieve. When you have this, you can make your best guess at how long each task will take to complete.

Ensure that within your estimate you also allow time for project management, detailed project planning, liaison with outside bodies, meetings, quality assurance and any supporting documentation necessary.

Also make sure that you have allowed time for:

  • Other high urgency tasks to be carried out which will have priority over this one
  • Accidents and emergencies
  • Internal meetings
  • Holidays and sickness in essential staff
  • Contact with other customers, perhaps to arrange the next job
  • Breakdowns in equipment
  • Missed deliveries by suppliers
  • Interruptions
  • Quality control rejections

These factors may double (or more than double) the length of time needed to complete a project. If the accuracy of time estimates is critical, you may find it effective to develop a systematic approach to including these factors. If possible, base this on past experience.

Key points:

You can lose a great deal of credibility by underestimating the length of time needed to implement a project. If you underestimate time, not only do you miss deadlines, you also put other project workers under unnecessary stress. Projects will become seriously unprofitable, and other tasks cannot be started.

The first step towards making good time estimates is to fully understand the problem to be solved. You can then prepare a detailed list of tasks that must be achieved. This list should include all the administrative tasks and meetings you need to carry out as well as the work itself.

Finally, allow time for all the expected and unexpected disruptions and delays to work that will inevitably happen.

Estimating time taken on complex projects

Where you need to carry out a complex project in which resources are limited or performance of one task is dependent on completion of another task, then techniques such as Critical Path Analysis can be useful. Time estimates for each stage should allow for unpredictable events as described above.

Scheduling Simple Projects

Simple projects involve only one or a few people over a short time. Typically, simple projects will have few tasks dependent on other tasks, and will be relatively simple and easy to coordinate. Examples might be coordinating delivery of resources for a workshop session, implementing a small marketing plan, or delivering a simple software enhancement.

With simple projects, tools like Gantt Charts and Critical Path Diagrams may overcomplicate project scheduling and communication. Unless project team members are trained in their use, they can often ‘blind people with science’, leading to poor communication and muddled projects. Appropriate Timetables and Action Plans are often sufficient to coordinate and implement simple projects. These should be explained and negotiated with project staff to improve the plans and get staff understanding, input and buy-in.

It will often be enough to create a workback schedule, starting from the date by which the project must be completed, and listing all of the tasks in reverse order with due dates for each.

Key points:

Simple projects are often best run using simple Timetables and Action Plans. These should be prepared and negotiated with project staff to improve plans and get buy-in. During the project these will contain sufficient control points and deliveries to monitor project progress and take any appropriate remedial action.

Gantt Charts

Gantt Charts are useful tools for analysing and planning more complex projects. They:

– Help you to plan out the tasks that need to be completed
– Give you a basis for scheduling when these tasks will be carried out
– Allow you to plan the allocation of resources needed to complete the project, and
– Help you to work out the critical path for a project where you must complete it by a particular date. When a project is under way, Gantt Charts help you to monitor whether the project is on schedule. If it is not, it allows you to pinpoint the action necessary to put it back on schedule.

Sequential and parallel activities:

An essential concept behind project planning (and Critical Path Analysis) is that some activities are dependent on other activities being completed first. As a shallow example, it is not a good idea to start building a bridge before you have designed it!

These dependent activities need to be completed in a sequence, with each stage being more-or-less completed before the next activity can begin. We can call dependent activities ‘sequential’.

Other activities are not dependent on completion of any other tasks. These may be done at any time before or after a particular stage is reached. These are nondependent or ‘parallel’ tasks.

 

Our training is carried out in a risk free environment which encourages delegates to practice the skills needed for successful appraisals. We use a number of training methods including role-play, video, audio, workshops and group exercises to enhance the learning process.

Why choose Total Success for your training?

  • our lead trainers have over 18 years experience in training
  • a maximum of 8 delegates means more time spent on individual needs
  • we guarantee to run the course and will never cancel at the last moment
  • free subscription to our monthly training newsletter

All open courses are trained in Central London at the St Giles Hotel.

Each delegate receives a comprehensive training workbook that doubles as an open course manual. Courses run from 9.30-5.30 with lunch and refreshments provided.

Time Management In-Company Courses

Total Success have developed a series of in-house training modules. These are designed so that an organisation can pick the training which is more applicable to its own needs and budget. Please call us to discuss your specific requirements. If you click on the links below you will see some typical one-day time management course agendas that cover a wide range of subjects from prioritising, delegating, assertiveness, managing interruptions, managing e-mail, using Outlook calendar, tasks etc. In fact we pride ourselves on being able to develop courses that suit all our clients needs and requirements.

Time Management Training Packs

Why use a total success training pack

If you are looking to run your own training course but lack the materials and the time to develop a fully functional training seminar we produce a range of training materials and packs which will suit your requirements exactly. All of our packs and been written by our own time management experts and we can guarantee that the training pack will satisfy your course requirements. Each pack will contain a full set of PowerPoint training slides, trainer’s notes, a course manual, and a full set of handouts and activities.

We have been running our courses since 1995 and have trained 1000’s of people via open courses and in-company seminars. We guarantee that the course you buy is the one we train. All courses are trainer and trainee friendly so you’ll be up and running quickly (depending on your training experience).

We know how difficult it is to choose amongst the many training materials available on line, that’s why we have 3 packages that will suit you needs. With our gold, silver and bronze packages you can choose the training format that’s right for you and your budget. Call us 0044 (0)208 269 1177 to discuss your requirements or email us info@totalsuccess.co.uk

Related information

Total success training also produced a number of newsletter webpages that carry great information on all our training topics.  Below you will find a selection of time management newsletter pages. You can click on any of the links and they will give you stacks of really interesting information relating to time management. If you like the content of these pages you can subscribe to our newsletter page and we will send you a newsletter every month. we update our pages very regularly so will always be more great information each time you log onto our site.

Click on any of these links for stacks of great tips and techniques on managing time

Time Management book’s and publications

The Book. If you really don’t have the time to attend one of our fantastic time management training courses and seminars, don’t worry. You can still enhance your knowledge and skills by purchasing time management training information from our website. Our lead trainer, Warren Wint has written a book entitled ‘Successful Time Management’ which is packed with tips and techniques to help you manage your time more effectively and more efficiently. You can purchase the book by clicking on the link below and downloading it to your own computer

Bite-sized Training Guides. We had also produced a range of bite-sized training guides on various subjects relating to time management. These short guides are written to give enough information on the topics that interest you. We include topics such as managing e-mail, setting goals and prioritising, the art and skill of effective delegation, and managing busy workloads and deadlines. These are designed for you to work through your topics in approximately 30 to 40 min, and not only give you valuable information but also include exercises and activities to enable you to learn at your own pace and on the go. These are very competitively priced at 99p each because we want you to not only gain valuable information but also to keep coming back and purchasing more to enable you to become a fabulous manager of time. Click the links below and download our training guides as PDF documents so you will be able to start achieving your goals today!

Podcasts

We produce a range of podcasts and audio downloads that you can download to hear how we conduct our training courses. These are available in live audio if you click on the links below and it’s almost like being on one of our courses. They allow you to hear how we carry out some of the topics in our time management training courses. If you like them and want to hear more please go to our Podcast pages on the website

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