The contentious issue of sizing has always been a robust discussion point. What is the most effective method by which projects and deliverables are sized? How do we accurately and confidently produce expected effort, particularly around the analysis phase of the project?
5 Keys to Sizing Success:
1. Ascertain Project Brief Understanding
The first port of call is to liaise with senior stakeholders, change authorities and Project Management to understand the business drivers, agendas and benefits expectations behind the engagement. This will give you a clearer indication of both the scope of work, as well as the desired output.
An agreed upon output is advantageous…Remember, expectation setting (and matching) is critical to success!
2. WBS Breakdown
Break the effort into manageable pieces. It simplifies the estimating process when our business analysis phase(s) are small. A method commonly used within Project Management scheduling is the creation of a Work Breakdown Structure, mapping out a decomposition of the component parts of your output. Once you have the deliverables defined, you can begin to estimate effort.
3. Progressive Elaboration – ROM to Definitive
As we progressively elaborate our deliverables and output, we can progressively elaborate our estimates. We can only know what we know, and it’s for that reason we provide ranged estimates where factors of doubt exist. Justifiable contingency is critical: Remember your known unknowns, and unknown unknowns.
Sizing can go through 3 phases, although it’s important that this exercise does not unnecessarily hold up the project:
1.Rough Order of Magnitude (ROM)
2.Budgetary Sizing (deliverables identified)
3.Definitive Sizing (requirements defined to a low level of detail)
4. Workload, Prioritisation & Contingency
Once sizing has been established, and in most cases a work package has been agreed upon, it’s important to both understand and relay any ramifications of additional workload has on previously sized work. Prioritisation should be established so you can schedule accordingly, as well as flex original sizing due to the increased workload.
These are also factors you should account for when producing sizing. The addition of adequate contingency is critical to the successful and timely delivery of your outputs. For example, no one ever has the luxury of 100% utilisation. Undefined and unaccounted work will always drop, and stakeholder availability is never assured, so you must account for factors such as these in your sizing.
Remember Triple Constraint (plus one more) – Scope, Time, Cost…and Quality. When one changes or is immovable, another has to give.
5. Manage Expectations
Communication, consultation and collaboration are critical components to both your ability to size, and successfully deliver. Understanding and communicating impact, output, risk and issues to timely delivery are not only imperative, but your responsibility as consultants. Setting the correct and realistic expectation upfront decreases the probability that you’ll have to have a contentious discussion later.
It is helpful to use a variety of estimating techniques. For example, when we’re first asked how long business analysis will take, it’s difficult to be as precise as a client may want. Where possible, we make use analogous estimating (experience) based on a previous project. You can then apply parametric estimates if enough information is understood. For example, if we know that it takes two hours to model a business process and we have five processes to model, it will take ten hours to model business processes (plus contingency).
Two useful methods are:
a) Analogous Parametric estimates – Previous experience. Comparative assessments of similar deliverables, organisations etc. will enable you to formulate a ROM.
b) Brainstorm with Peers – Use SME’s within the field of analysis. They usually have a more realistic idea of what needs to be done and how long it will take.
1) Identify all the deliverables (work products, artifacts) you will produce during the business analysis effort
2) Identify the approach you’re going to take, whether plan-or change-driven (Waterfall/Agile). This will dictate the reliance on the content of your output
3) It is also helpful to use the BABOK knowledge areas to identify which work products will be completed. During the course of an Elicitation event, for example, we might send out an agenda (one work product),
update our traceability matrix (another deliverable), create an “as-is” process model (another deliverable), and update our list of issues (yet another deliverable).
4) Next we think of the tasks needed to complete each work product, and finally how many hours the task will take to form your ROM/Budgetary or Definitive Sizing
By Paul Carrigher – 2014