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Practical Project Initiation: A Handbook with Tools by Karl E Wiegers

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Estimating the Work

Practice #12: Estimate Based on Effort, not Calendar Time

People generally provide estimates in units of calendar time. I prefer to estimate the effort (in labor-hours) associated with a task, and then translate the effort into a calendar-time estimate. A 20-hour task might take 2.5 calendar days of nominal full-time effort, or 2 exhausting days. However, it could also take a week if you have to wait for critical information from a customer or stay home with a sick child for two days. I base the translation of effort into calendar time on estimates of how many effective hours I can spend on project tasks per day, any interruptions or emergency bug fix requests I might get, meetings, and all the other places into which time disappears. ...

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