Project Management 3a. Estimating the Size of the Project

The Report of the Needs Assessment (for instructional design projects) or Information Plan (for technical communication projects) developed earlier should be complete enough that you can accurately estimate, within 20 percent, the total size of the information product.

To get a rough estimate of the size of the completed communication product, add up the number of:

  • Pages if you are developing a printed communication product
  • Screens if you are developing an online communication product
  • Finished minutes (if you are preparing an audiotape or video tape)

Then, add a fudge factor (time added to account for the possible inaccuracy of the estimate) to determine the total size of the project.  Table 1 suggests how to estimate the fudge factor for a project, based on the stability of the technical content of the project.

Table 1: How to Estimate a Fudge Factor

If you are dealing with

Add the following to the length of the project:

Extremely stable subject matter

10 to 20 percent

Somewhat stable subject matter

20 to 35 percent

Unstable subject matter

as much as 50 to 100 percent

For example, suppose that you are designing and developing a help system.  As part of your information plan, you determined that the subject matter is somewhat stable. Based on the chart above, you would add a fudge factor of 20 to 30 percent to the estimated length of the project when estimating the schedule.

Similarly, suppose you are designing and developing a blended course for management in the organization.  As a result of the needs assessment process, you determined that the subject matter of the program is extremely stable. You would still add 10 to 20 percent to the total estimated length of the project, because of possible changes that might arise anyway—despite the assumption that the subject matter is extremely stable.

Continue with the next post, Project Management 3b. Estimating the total length (in number of work days) needed to complete the project.

© Copyright 1996-2012. Saul Carliner. All rights reserved.  If sharing or excerpting, should be properly cited.


About idmodelsandprocesses

Exploring, reporting, teaching, and advising on learning and communication for the workplace and consumers.
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