Business Tips #2: It’s Better to Overestimate Than to Not Deliver On-Time

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.

~The Lermz

Business Tip #1: Avoid Miscommunication: Set the Expectations

Almost every failure in a project comes from miscommunication. Sometimes a change isn’t communicated right away and we deliver to a client incorrectly. Sometimes we don’t communicate what we’re working on and it turns out that multiple people are working on the same thing. Sometimes we don’t know what the other teammembers are expecting and it causes conflict. It really all leads down to one thing.. miscommunication leads to failure.

How can we combat this?
So given that everyone has different personalities and different ways of working.. how can we combat miscommunication? It really comes down to setting the expectations within a team. This can be applied to a work team or perhaps a project from school.

Setting expectations can be as simple as going member to member and seeing what they want out of the project and how they think we should get to the path. In this way, you can see what each member of the team is really going for and what the strengths and opportunities are within the team. With each thing that is shared, a potential risk can be uncovered and better planning can take place. This is why setting the expectations is so important, it allows teammembers to work better together and it also aligns every party that is involved on the same page so that there are no surprises.

Great, we set our expectations. Everything should be good to go till the end of the project right?
Don’t you wish things were like that? It’s great that you took the first step and you set the expectations with everyone. However, throughout the process, it’s necessary to revisit those expectations from time to time to make sure external factors haven’t influenced anything. Sometimes as a project goes on, people have a shift on what should be done and what needs to be covered. Having regular cadences and expectation conversations allow the team to course correct and not get caught in the dark when the dynamic changes. This is probably the best thing a team can do to make sure it keeps going at the same pace.

So how often should we set these expectations? Daily? Weekly? Monthly?
This is really up to your team. Every project is going to be different and will require a different cadence schedule. The important thing is that your team develops the foundation and the framework so that you can continue moving forward. Always set the expectations on your team and you won’t ever get lost on a project.

I hope that this can be applied to many different situations. I’ve been exposed to different teams and have seen many projects breakdown because processes are not discussed, plans have not been implemented correctly and people change their minds way too much and don’t inform everyone. As long as the whole team knows what to do and what to expect, they can move together to the same vision and the same set of milestones.

~The Lermz