Among a lot of the things I have learned in my short business career is the importance of deadlines and making sure you hit them. In a world that revolves around dates to hit and multiple work-streams and a lack of resources, it seems daunting to actually be able to estimate when you can get something done. It’s been my experience that you need to give yourself as much buffer time as possible. Here are some thoughts to consider in trying to get a good estimate on your work:
– Talk to someone that has done what you are trying to accomplish. Ask how long it took them, what the risks are and how they would estimate what you need to do. Add a few days or a week to that time.
– Throw some dates out to your team and see if they think they can hit them. Pick dates that you know would be stretching them and get to the root cause of why they can’t hit those deadlines. This can help you identify roadblocks to remove for the team
– Keep your manager informed of all your actions. Don’t CC him/her on every email per se but be sure that he/she knows what you’re doing and is aware of the situation. The worst thing that can happen is surprising your boss
– Be persistent but not overbearing. Once you have the timelines down, be sure to keep track of what’s going on. Even if you have a buffer, you need to keep pushing and figuring out what roadblocks to clear and what to escalate. However, don’t push too hard, you might not get responses after awhile if you continually distract the person.
Hopefully these tips help you out in figuring out how to overestimate and try to work with the buffer you create.