Being Realistic About Estimates

by Paula Moran

I'm not the best estimator of time. What's my saving grace? DATA

Periodically I time myself to see how long certain tasks take me. With that information in mind I can realistically plan smaller projects, and keep stakeholders informed about progress.

But what about totally new things? At one point I'd planned to learn Camtasia, Articulate, and Captivate and produce example work for each during the month of March. Considering everything else on my calendar I was wondering if I really had time for all that? 

I became more realistic about what I could accomplish after watching this slide share summarizing research findings about the actual time it takes to develop learning.

There are generalizations in Chapman Alliance's estimates, but they provide decent benchmarks to estimate for the overall amount of time to it will take to develop face to face or elearning. 

To improve my future estimates I'm tracking the amount of time I spend developing training. The creative process of designing and developing learning ensures that no estimate will never be entirely accurate. There will always be unforeseen problems and opportunities. Many of those will come up as instructional designers process through the material they are designing learning for and develop new understandings.

Once I have more personalized information I am likely to begin using a set of elearning project calculators produced by Mark Steiner. Given realistic time estimates his calculators enable you to calculate a customized budgets.

***Update: Quick article on top considerations for estimating time for elearning projects.