Project Estimation and Tracking That Works

by chromatic

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Project management, in Andy's system, is the process of answering the
question "Will we make it?" Obviously one goal is to make the customer happy
-- but not at the expense of an accurate schedule. If your project is off
track and you won't be able to deliver what you want to deliver when you want
to deliver it, why not find out as early as possible and figure out how and
what to change to make it work?

That's the real trick... but if you're smart and well-disciplined, you can
minimize disruption.

If there's a secret (and this is what the agile development community has
been saying for a while -- neither Andy nor I make a secret of that) it's that
you have to be relentlessly honest about what you can and cannot handle. You
don't have to have perfect knowledge, but you have to stop deluding yourself
and your customer that changes are free, that you've made more progress than
you have, and that your initial estimates and guesses are completely right and
will never change.

If you keep your tasks small and make good estimates and keep track of your
tasks and revise your estimates and review your schedule based on what you
know, you'll always know where you are and how far you have to go.

If you let the unknown take over your schedule, if you let unfinished work
slip over and rework creep in, and if you can't point to a single simple
project board somewhere and say exactly how much you have finished and how
much left to do, you can't answer the fundamental question of project

Maybe you'll succeed anyway... but if you have that honesty and confidence,
both Andy and I believe that your project stands a far greater chance of

What's your secret to a successful project?