Sunday 12 October 2014

Is There Any Scientific Approach to Estimate Working Man Days For a Consulting Project?

While preparing a management-consulting proposal for any client, most consultants estimate working man-days required to execute the project and deliver desired outcome. Each time, they fumble at the exact same point – How to calculate, if not exact, at least close to exact man-days? It is not the ambiguity involved that creates the confusion – it is lack of a scientific approach. However, there is enough room for refining prevailing approach by considering a combination of the following components while estimating working man-days:

Scope of Work: You re look at the scope not just from execution perspective but also from an outcome based standpoint. The methodology you will adopt to frame your recommendations, implement your solution and execute the project should be crystal clear and should not be “Evolve as you Solve” style. You list the series of tasks; estimate time and effort required for each task and quote a fee, even if you are unsure if all components were appropriately included. The list is to let your client know the magnitude of the project.

Methodology: Many consultants often refer earlier projects similar in nature to arrive at the working man-days. A standard set of assumptions can be misleading. If a particular task took X time in a company as the resources involved went out of the way to execute it, how fair it is to assume another company would be able to complete the same task within the same time frame? What discount would you consider for bureaucracy? Time and effort required for key tasks could vary, depending upon the complexity of activity, stakeholders involved, organization culture and other external factors.

Milestones: Clients would me more keen about milestones reached or outcomes achieved than activities involved – You can always keep the man-days for internal reference and add required buffer if you anticipate slips or delay from client’s end while quoting project based fee. In the project charter include roles and responsibilities of both parties with required penalty clauses for delay and options to claim additional fee in case of implementation lapse. A communication calendar with key stakeholders to discuss project progress as per mutually agreed timelines should facilitate meeting targets better and lead to a logical closure of the project.

BECKON Model is used in One to One sessions with Entry-level Consultants, Leaders, Entrepreneurs, Owners of Small and Medium size enterprises.

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