Project Sizing and Estimating
Every useful set of project management practices must account for variations in project size. For clarity and structure, projects are most often sized in categories of small, medium and large. We use these designations to put projects in perspective to determine the extent and degree to which structured management methodologies should be applied within any given project. Project management practices are meant to ensure that projects can be completed in a structured fashion - on time, on budget and producing expected results. But the process should never be allowed to overtake the project. As such, project size variations must be considered as management practices are developed and applied.
Why does sizing matter? When it comes to projects and practices, one size may not fit all. Project size is a determining factor of "process scope", most simply defined as the degree and extent to which project management practices are formally applied.
Project Size Defines Process Scope:
Project sizing is a "must consider factor" for project planning, ensuring that plans and activities are relevant, and that resources are properly used and allocated. This is particularly important in the multi-project environment, where simultaneous projects must compete for funds and human resources. It is unwise and impractical to take a "one size fits all" approach to managing projects. Small project methodologies would never fit a large scale project, and any small project would easily be overtaken by the weight of overly detailed procedures and practices.
Steps: make the process fit the project
Any useful set of project management practices must account for variations in methodology according to "project size". Size appropriate methodologies can be defined according to the following variables:
1. Applicability: Is the process appropriate to the project?
2. Formality: If the process is appropriate, should it be applied in a formal (pre-defined) or informal manner?
3. Flexibility: How much flexibility will be allowed?
4. Documentation: What types of documents will be required?
5. Detail: What level of detail will be required in any documents?
To develop effective sizing guidelines, you must be prepared to identify specific measurement variables of project size, as well as the specific criteria to be applied within each variable category. These "criteria" will create the thresholds upon which size is determined and applied. The "sizing" process is part science and art. Every project has a mind of its own, and may not always fit neatly into specific size categories. As such, it is best to apply sizing guidelines at multiple levels, ensuring that all variations and nuances are considered.