SM BeersI want to talk about estimation, but first I want to talk about beer and wine. Specifically, the act of opening beer and wine bottles.

For about 2.5 years, we kept our bottle opener in our junk drawer, all the way across the kitchen from the refrigerator and pantry. And for 2.5 years, every time we opened a bottle (which was pretty often), we walked across the room to open it, then back again for a glass.

Then one day, I had a true lightbulb moment. I should keep the bottle opener in the silverware drawer! It’s right next to the fridge, right next to the glasses, even right next to the trash can. Think of the time it will save! Think of the convenience! Wow. Things in the kitchen have been better ever since.

How does this relate to estimation, you ask? Well, I had the same lightbulb moment when I was first introduced to the concept of ranged estimation. For years, I’d used single-point estimates like the rest of the world, hardly thinking a thing about it. I’d take a guess, pad it a bit for safety, enter it, and forget it.

But when I first got to actually USE LiquidPlanner (about nine months ago now) and build a project plan in it — and enter my estimates in ranges — suddenly a whole new world of project scheduling opened up for me. Estimating in ranges is actually considerably easier than estimating with single-points. After all, we think about time in ranges for most uncertain things in life.

With LiquidPlanner, I can see at a glance the best-case and worst-case scenarios for completing every task. For every project, I get a statistically-correct schedule. Now that I’ve tasted ranged estimation, I never, ever want to go back to single-point estimation. Not when there’s a better way.

Who knew estimation could feel so good? was last modified: February 6th, 2008 by Bruce Henry