Poor Estimation: Major Root Cause of Project Failure
I find it interesting how many people just go forward without a clue as to what is involved in developing and operating an IT system. I spent the week at the birthplace of root cause analysis. What a pleasure to hear leaders state “amazing” that they could get visibility into the cost, schedule, risk and reliability of a system. And to hear them identify their current estimating difficulties as a root cause of project failure. Here are a few typical scenarios:
1. Don’t estimate at all: We will go forward and do good things…and tell you when we are done.
2. Estimate based on simple guessing: We think we can do it for x in y time. But why? How is it repeatable? How can we improve?
3. Estimates reduced by mandate: Decent estimates that are politically incorrect, often reduced considerably to meet an impossible deadline or cost.
When the estimate is bad, the associated plan (you do have a plan, don’t you?) is doomed from the start. Expectations are not met, shortcuts are taken attempting to make up the time, business value is lost as projects are late or canceled.
I also have to shake my head when I see programs that use earned value to track but do not have a viable baseline to track from.
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