Estimating IT Project Efforts
For those of you with a fiscal year that starts 1/1 you are probably ramping up your planning and budgeting efforts. When trying to determine which IT projects you will add to next year’s plan there are two constraints that one must consider: staff time and money.
Of the two of these, I find the human constraint to be the most limiting. You could double our capital budget, and we still couldn’t accomplish significantly more.
Even though we are acutely aware of this contraint, we still manage to commit to more projects than we can complete.
At the planning stage it is extremely difficult to estimate how much staff time a project will require. There isn’t enough time before budgets are due to develop detailed project plans. Universally people always underestimate the amount of effort a project will take. Even seasoned veterans make this mistake over and over. I guess we always assume that things will go to plan. the fact is, that they never do.
Vendors are little help. The time estimates they provide for projects are not based in reality in any way. One of our HIS vendors states that their eMAR and medication scanning product can be implemented in 3 – 4 months. Our experience is more like 15 months., and we have our A-team working on that project. You can’t even get your medications unit-dosed and bar-coded in 4 months.
I was discussing this tendency to underestimate effort with one of my colleagues. He suggested that we should start multiplying our best guesses by 3. I was thinking 4. We are both probably underestimating.
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