Participants: Min, Mackenzie Dysart, Ben Novack, Kathleen, Mathisha, Patrice Embry, Ryan Summers, and Ryan Gilbreath.
Min, a new Jr. PM, started the conversation by expressing their struggle with meeting project deadlines. Dev's numerous roadblocks were delaying the project, and their boss was becoming frustrated.
- Mackenzie Dysart: Suggested estimating feature by feature, asking for risks, and adding buffers.
- Ben Novack: Proposed involving the entire team in the estimation process and holding them accountable.
- Kathleen: Suggested padding by 20-30%, planning for false deadlines, and using historical data.
- Mathisha: Recommended optimising web development processes by using pre-built frameworks and standardised systems.
- Patrice Embry: Pointed out the importance of resolving dev issues and training and spoke about the oddness of a dev researching a mega menu.
- Ryan Summers: Suggested putting risks in the risk register with plans.
- Ryan Gilbreath: Took notes for future projects.
The conversation provided several recommendations for meeting project deadlines, including estimating feature by feature, padding, using pre-built frameworks, and holding the entire team accountable.
- Estimate feature by feature
- Ask for risks
- Add buffers
- Involve the entire team
- Hold the team accountable
- Pad by 20-30%
- Plan for false deadlines
- Use historical data
- Optimise web development processes
- Resolve dev issues and training
- Put risks in the risk register with plans
What They Would Do Differently
The Original Conversation
Min expressed their struggle with meeting project deadlines, leading to a discussion with several recommendations for meeting project deadlines.
Hi PMs, not being able to meet project deadline has become a big issue for me.Let’s say to develop a website, The dev has given me an estimation of 20 working days.After initiating the development Dev is facing numerous roadblocks from his side. Things like, he is not sure how to build a Mega menu, then he is putting additional times on research to look for a solution.4-5 roadblocks like this add up extra 10-12 days to the project.And my boss is going mad asking why is it taking so long.I am a new Jr. PM. Can you give me some suggestions on how can I achieve project deadlines?
Are you doing estimation for the website as a whole? Or are you going through feature by feature to estimate? If you aren't doing the latter, you should try that out. It will allow you to call out risks and add buffer on features the dev isn't as confident In.I also always recommend asking when being given estimates "what could make this take longer?" So you can understand the risks/impact.Also if this has happened a number of times I'd suggest adding a buffer to the estimates you're being given with the historical knowledge/lessons learned from precious timelines.
Hi @Mackenzie Dysart Thank You replying. At first we were doing estimation for whole website. Which was a failure. Then we did page by page estimation.That also failed.Then I divided each page into different sections and collected estimation for each section.I also added buffer timing.Still we are going above the deadlines.
Feature by feature should definitely help but if you're consistently seeing this you might need to work on estimation as a whole with your team and hold them accountable when it doesn't get done on time.
Is anybody other than you involved with or responsible for estimation at your company? This shouldn’t just be a “you” problem. For example as a sr pm I’ve been asked to help juniors get better at estimation with their teams; we didn’t just say “why isn’t it done” but “why did all of us, collectively, fail to estimate in a way that was useful/accurate, and how can we fix that.”
So I’d want to know what does your boss think should be different - devs working faster somehow? Or did you not apply best practices or company processes in estimating? If they don’t exist, a jr pm shouldn’t be solo expected to create them. Estimation is really really hard even for very experienced teams!
I let the developer do the estimation as I think he is the best person to do the estimation. Since estimation has become an issue I am doing zoom meeting with the dev and do the plan and estimation on the meeting for each feature. Then I add extra 15% time on top of that.We are still missing the deadline.Well the boss doesn’t have any Project Management knowledge. All my boss care about is we are completing the project at the earliest possible time. And he doesn’t like it if we give him an estimate and unable to meet that estimate time.
You should always pad by 20-30+%. People by nature always underestimate bc they’re thinking best case scenario, not roadblocks. Always plan for false deadlines on both ends (edited)
And then you can use historical data for future project estimates and hopefully some of the modules can be templated so you have a general idea of how long they’ll take. I’d also follow up with your dev to dig deeply into why they went over estimate to understand how to mitigate those roadblocks going forward.
Coming at the issue from a different angle.From your description, there are processes/approaches on the web development side that could be optimised.You mentioned that the web developer is “unsure how to build a Mega menu”. The era of building Mega menus from scratch is long gone. That’s like mixing clay to make bricks for building a house instead of using standard bricks.A bulk of web development is done using pre-built frameworks. So, for example, in systems like WordPress, features like mega menus would either be a plug-in or a configuration of the menu feature.Selecting pre-built frameworks by itself won’t speed things up. However, using the feature-by-feature approach @Mackenzie Dysart pointed out, will identify priorities for choosing a suitable framework.Expanding on @Ben Novack’s approach of expanding the responsibility, it’s best to get whoever runs the dev side involved in using frameworks and standardised systems. Unless there’s some bizarre need to build every basic component from scratch (I can’t imagine what that would be), it’s the way to go.Aside from freeing time from re-inventing the wheel, they are simpler to maintain (if customisations are properly managed).If the boss is all about speed, he’ll be happy to back the idea of using frameworks and standardised systems.
^^ @Mathisha took the words out of my mouth. researching anything during build, to me, means that the dev didn’t speak up during estimating to say “I don’t know how to build that.” that’s step 1. I think the dev issues need to be ironed out before you change your existing management process.
as an aside, I’d want to talk to that dev’s manager to ask about whether that dev needs additional training. not knowing how to build a mega menu and having to research it is just….like….odd, in 2023.
I'd also put out there, these should be in the risk register, too, with plans for them.
- me taking notes for future projects