Unformatted text preview: very time. The person’s attention is diverted by a loud noise outside. He drops a card while
sorting. He gets tired. And so on.
Can you get rid of the variation? No way. www.erpvn.net Can you reduce it? Yes. Through practice, by changing the process by which the work is done, and so on. But
it is important to note that the variation will always be there, and we must recognize and accept it. Previous Table of Contents Next Products | Contact Us | About Us | Privacy | Ad Info | Home
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EarthWeb is prohibited. Read EarthWeb's privacy statement. www.erpvn.net Fundamentals of Project Management
by James P. Lewis
ISBN: 0814478352 Pub Date: 01/01/95
Search Tips Search this book: Advanced Search Previous Table of Contents Next Title ----------- Improving Estimating Ability
The more times you do something, the better you get at estimating how long it and similar tasks will take the
next time you do them. This suggests that very inexperienced people will typically make bad
estimates—which is usually the case.
Edward Russo and Paul Schoemaker, in their book Decision Traps, relate a story about Royal Dutch Shell
that provides a nice solution to the problem. Royal Dutch Shell found that its senior geologists were
considerably better at analyzing geological surveys to predict where to drill for oil than were its recently
graduated geologists. Even the senior geologists have a fairly low “hit rate,” but for new graduates the
outcomes were much worse.
Royal Dutch Shell started a program in which new graduates were given survey data of areas that had already
been drilled. They were then asked to predict the results of drilling in these areas. They were then told what
had actually happened. In a very short time, the new graduates were predicting as accurately as the old-timers.
A project should be audited at major milestones, with spreads no greater than three months. Beyond that
time, memories are not reliable.
This illustrates a very important point: learning does not take place unless there is feedback on results. If an
organization never looks at results and studies the causes for those outcomes, the people involved tend to
repeat the same mistakes. The Hazards of Estimating
Consider the case of Karen. One day her boss stopped by her desk at about 1 o’clock. “Need for you to do an
estimate for me,” he told her. “Promised the Big Guy I’d have it for him by 4 o’clock. You with me?”
Karen nodded and gave him a thin smile. The boss described the job for her. “Just need a ballpark number,”
he assured her. Given so little time, Karen could only compare the project her boss described to one she had
done about a year before. She added a little for this and took a little off for that, put in some contingency to
cover her lack of...
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