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Project Estimation Techniques: A Quick Guide

19th Feb, 2024
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    Project Estimation Techniques: A Quick Guide

    Project estimation allows you to plan for what your project will cost, and avoid any surprises down the road. Estimating the time and cost involved in building new software is challenging for any team, especially for large companies with complex projects involving multiple departments or third-party vendors with unique skill sets and billing practices. Project estimation becomes even more challenging when you are working on a distributed team where members are located in different states or countries.

    Estimation also plays an important role when you have one or more development partners. In this blog post, we explore some useful tips to estimate a project cost effectively and efficiently. You can also go for Project Management training online to learn more about how the project estimation process works and the steps involved in it. In this blog post, explore different techniques for estimating projects and some project estimation tools online that can help you get started with the estimation process.

    What is Project Estimation?

    Project estimation is a method of determining how long and how much finance it will take to complete a project. It involves estimating the time required to complete tasks, such as creating designs and writing code. Through this process, you determine the true cost of completing a project and its potential profit margins. This allows you to make informed decisions about whether or not the project should be undertaken. There are two main types of project estimation: quantitative and qualitative.

    • Quantitative estimation is based on hard data, such as numbers and measurements.
    • Qualitative estimation involves making subjective judgments about the size of a project based on experience, common sense, and intuition.

    Both types of project estimation techniques can be useful in different circumstances. For example, when starting a new business, quantitative estimates are most likely to be accurate because you have limited data from which to work. On the other hand, qualitative estimates may be more accurate when dealing with complex projects or those that involve unknown variables.

    What are Project Estimation Techniques?

    There are various project estimation techniques that are used to calculate the most accurate estimate for a project. The best way to choose an estimation technique is to understand the strengths and weaknesses of each technique and then choose the one that is best suited for the project at hand. Explore PMP certification training to learn some of these techniques, methods of application and enhance your growth in the future. Some are given below:

    Different Project Estimation Techniques

    1. Top-down Estimate

    The top-down estimate begins with a high-level estimate of the total resources required for the project. This initial estimate is then refined by breaking the project down into smaller components and estimating the resources required for each component.

    2. Bottom-up Estimate

    A bottom-up estimation works on analysis of the lower-level tasks and rolling higher upto the overall project estimates. Bottom- up estimations aim to forecast project duration by accounting the small tasks to achieve accuracy. However, it can also be time-consuming and may not always be necessary if the initial estimate is close to the true value.

    3. Expert Judgment

    The expert judgment technique is a relatively simple form of estimation that can be used when other methods are unavailable or too complicated. As the name suggests, this method relies on the expertise of those who are familiar with the project in question.

    4. Analogous Estimation

    Analogous estimation is a technique that uses the values from similar previous projects to estimate the value for a new project. This approach is most effective when there is a limited amount of data available, as it can be difficult to accurately compare dissimilar projects. When using analogous estimation, it is important to account for any major differences between the projects, as these can alter the results.

    5. Parametric Model Estimation

    Project estimation is the process of predicting the most likely amount of resources needed to complete a project. There are many different techniques that can be used for estimation, but the parametric model is one of the most accurate. This method relies on historical data to predict the future outcome of a project.

    6. Three-point Estimating

    One of the most commonly used estimation method is the three-point estimation. With this technique, you come up with an optimistic, pessimistic, and most likely estimate for each task. You then take the average of these three estimates to get your final estimate. This technique can be very helpful in dealing with uncertainty and getting a more accurate picture of what a project will entail.

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    Types of Project Estimation


    There are various ways to estimate the cost of a project. One common method is calculating the cost of all the materials and labor required to complete the project. Another common method is bottom-up estimation, which involves breaking the project into smaller tasks and estimating the cost of each task.

    Additionally, there are several specialized methods that can be used to estimate the cost of specific types of project estimation techniques, such as software development projects. Regardless of the method used, it is important to remember that cost estimation is always an approximate process, and there is always some inherent uncertainty involved.


    Time estimation is another critical component of project management. In many cases, businesses will use a technique known as bottom-up estimation to generate time estimates. This involves breaking down the project into smaller tasks and then estimating how long each task will take to complete.

    There are several specialized methods that can be used to estimate the time required for specific types of projects, such as software development projects. It is important to note that time estimation is also an approximate process, and there is always some inherent uncertainty involved.


    Scope estimation is another key element of project management. The goal of scope estimation is to develop a clear understanding of what work needs to be done in order to complete the project successfully. This includes identifying all deliverables and activities, as well as estimating the effort required to produce each deliverable. As with cost and time estimation, scope estimation is an approximate process, and there is always some inherent uncertainty involved.


    Risk estimation is another important aspect of project management. The goal of risk estimation is to identify all potential risks that could impact the project, as well as estimating the probability and potential impact of each risk. This information can then be used to develop a risk management plan that can help mitigate or avoid these risks. Like cost, time, and scope estimation, risk estimation is also an approximate process, and there is always some inherent uncertainty.


    Finally, resource project management estimation is another key element of project management. The goal of resource estimation is to identify all the resources that will be needed to complete the project successfully. This includes both human resources (e.g., personnel) and physical resources (e .g., equipment). As with other forms of estimation, resource estimation is an approximate process, and there is always some inherent uncertainty involved.


    This approach assesses the amount of work required to achieve a certain level of quality. For example, if a project requires the development of 10 new features, and each feature takes an average of 20 hours to complete, then the total estimated time for the project would be 200 hours.

    project estimation methods

    Project Estimation Process

    The project management estimation process is the step in the project life cycle that involves creating a detailed plan for the entire project. It consists of four main steps:

    1. Planning
    2. Scoping
    3. Estimating
    4. Controlling

    Planning Stage

    This stage involves gathering all necessary information about the project, including its purpose, goals, timeline, and budget. The scoping stage involves determining how much work needs to be done and how much time it will take. The estimating stage involves making rough estimates of how long each phase of the project will take. Finally, the controlling stage involves monitoring progress and making adjustments as necessary.

    Planning is an important step because it allows you to organize all your thoughts into a coherent whole. Without planning, all your ideas could run around in circles like hamsters on a wheel and never come to any sort of conclusion. Without planning, you have no way of knowing what will actually be required to complete the project or whether you are even capable of doing so. Planning helps prevent these problems by ensuring that all relevant details are taken into account before work begins.


    It is an important step because it gives you a clear picture of what needs to be done and how much time it will take. Without scoping, you could waste a lot of time trying to figure out what exactly needs to be done. Scoping also lets you decide whether additional resources are needed and whether those resources would be able to fulfill the requirements or not.


    This stage is the process of determining the quantity of funds required to accomplish the project work and execute the planned activities.


    It involves regular monitoring of the performance, comparison with baselines, and initiating course correction to ensure work evolves according to the plan.

    Project Estimation Tools

    Many project estimation tools can be used to estimate project costs, time and other factors. Other project estimation tools may be specialized for estimating the cost of a specific type of project or for estimating the number of hours needed for a particular project.

    Milestone Method: It consists of creating milestones (or checkpoints) along the way to measure progress. Each milestone should have a specific goal and should be clearly defined so that all stakeholders understand what needs to be done at each milestone as well as how long it will take to complete them. Once the milestones are completed, then a final estimate can be made for the duration of the project.

    Project estimators may also use project estimation tools online such as flowcharting and Gantt charts to document their estimates. One key to successfully completing any type of project is to plan ahead and take into account all of its potential problems. By doing this, you can minimize surprises and make sure that you do not fall short on your goals. You can also take steps to ensure that your project stays on track by assigning specific tasks to individuals and tracking their progress throughout the process.

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    There are many different project estimation techniques that can be used to estimate the cost of a project. However, no single technique is perfect, and each has its own advantages and disadvantages. To choose the right technique for a particular project, it is important to understand the strengths and weaknesses of each approach. Only then can you select the best technique suited to your needs. Read and learn more about PRINCE2 Foundation and Practitioner training and advance your career in project management.

    Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

    1. What are different methods of project estimation? 

    • Top-down Estimate 
    • Bottom-up Estimate 
    • Expert Judgment 
    • Analogous Estimation 
    • Parametric model Estimation 
    • Three-point Estimating 

    2. What is the three-point estimation technique? 

    Three-point estimation technique is a management technique to determine the probable outcomes of future events based on available information. It involves weighing the optmistic, most-likely, and pessimistic numbers to arrive at a near to accurate estimate.


    Kevin D.Davis

    Blog Author

    Kevin D. Davis is a seasoned and results-driven Program/Project Management Professional with a Master's Certificate in Advanced Project Management. With expertise in leading multi-million dollar projects, strategic planning, and sales operations, Kevin excels in maximizing solutions and building business cases. He possesses a deep understanding of methodologies such as PMBOK, Lean Six Sigma, and TQM to achieve business/technology alignment. With over 100 instructional training sessions and extensive experience as a PMP Exam Prep Instructor at KnowledgeHut, Kevin has a proven track record in project management training and consulting. His expertise has helped in driving successful project outcomes and fostering organizational growth.

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