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Plan For The Project

Have A Plan For The Project

When you’re estimating a project, it’s much easier to do, if you’ve got some sort of a project plan already defined. The reality is that you’ll need to edit the project plan align with the estimate, and you’ll need to refine the estimate to align with the project plan.

The relationship between cost estimation and project plan is symbiotic; they feed from one another so if you try and dive straight into an estimate with no plan at all, you’ll discover quickly that you’ll need an accompanying project plan for it to have any meaning.

That said, it can also be helpful for project planning if you do a quick top down estimate. Think of it similar to a project plan sketch, to put a stake in the ground and work out how much effort you could afford to apply to different phases of a project to see if it might be feasible.

Top down website estimate example

For example, if you know that you have $100k for a website redesign project, you could split up $100k or 20 weeks of effort (assuming it’s $5k/per person/per week) as below:

BudgetEffort (weeks)
Define $    10,000.002
Craft $    25,000.005
Develop $    50,000.0010
Deploy $    10,000.002
Evaluate $      5,000.001
 $  100,000.0020

Creating this kind of very high-level cost estimation is helpful before you start your project plan to provide a sanity check for over-engineering the process. You might find that if you don’t have any idea of the level of effort you can afford to apply to different phases, you get half way though your project plan and realize you’ve overcooked it.