6th Edition PMBOK® Guide–Process 6.4 Estimate Activity Durations: Tools and Techniques (1)

As we go through the planning processes for scheduling, we see that each one gets more complex than the previous one, mainly because they are building on the results or the outputs from the previous process, but also because the process itself is more complex.   Sequencing the activities is more complicated than just creating a list of those activities, and estimating the duration of the activities is even more complex.   The final planning process, process 6.5 Develop Schedule, where you put the result of all the previous planning processes together to create the schedule, is the most complex.

For that reason, I am going to take a discussion of the tools and techniques for this process and split it into two parts:   the first part (this post today) covering what I call the generic planning tools and techniques, that is, tools and techniques that would be used for any planning process of this complexity, namely:    expert judgment, decision making, and meetings.

Then, in the next post, I will cover the tools and techniques that are used specifically for this particular process 6.4 Estimating Activity Durations, namely:

  • Analogous estimating
  • Parametric estimating
  • Three-point estimating
  • Bottom-up estimating
  • Data analysis (alternatives analysis, reserve analysis)

Let’s quickly go through the “generic” tools and techniques for this process (the numbering is based on the categories in the PMBOK guide, so there will be a little skipping of  numbers–this is intentional and it means that the missing categories are to be covered in the next post).

6.4.2  Estimate Activity Durations  Expert judgement

There are three types of experts you may want to consider inviting to your meetings (see category below) to help estimate the activity durations on your project.   You should try to get experts with expertise in

  • general schedule development, management, and control
  • specific expertise in estimating
  • experience with other previous, similar projects Decision Making

Voting of course is one way of making a decision if there are alternatives available for any given activity duration estimate.   Remember, there are different types of voting, such as voting with a majority, a plurality, and other techniques used in agile approaches.   I will cover the agile approaches to schedule planning in a separate post (to be done after I cover all the schedule planning processes. Meetings

Any time you have a group decision, it is important to have face-to-face meetings or virtual meetings as the next best alternative.    There are special rules for meetings in an agile approach, to schedule planning and again, this will be covered in a separate post after I cover all the five tools and techniques listed above.

The next post will cover all of the special tools and techniques for this process that are listed above.




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