70kft relieves the client stress of multi-agency management by offering core marketing expertise under one roof. Through its core competencies – Design, Public Relations and Digital Marketing – business leaders consolidate time and ensure an expeditious process to solve brand communications problems. Our integrated mix allows businesses to eliminate the need for multiple procurements, numerous contract negotiations and time allotted to message consistency across multiple marketing agencies.
Producing precise estimates benefits both the integrated agency side and client side, allowing for adequate time and resources to produce excellent work. For client stakeholders, it’s crucial our integrated agency is able to deliver on its promise to produce such work.
Truly integrated efforts are complex by nature and following a vigorous estimating process is a must. Quick, shoot-from-the-hip methods will not do the trick. They will result in projects that are rushed and under-resourced, deliver disappointing results, or over-resourced, causing the client to over-pay for what is to be delivered.
Foundational Elements of Accurate Estimating
Map Out Your Work Processes
Well-documented, well-established work processes are the key to all levels of agency performance, and are the foundation on which accurate estimates are built. They provide the predictability that makes precise estimates happen as they represent the best-practice approaches for delivering solutions for each client goal and objective.
Develop Task-by-Task Estimating Standards
Use tested estimating standards to build resource estimates for each task in your process. “Eyeballing” an overall project and saying, “It should take about X hours,” is often exercised, but remains an unreliable method for estimating projects. Building estimating standards partnered with a master task list enables you to build detailed, process-based estimates, and a clearer starting point for determining what resources will be required to complete a project. Using standards eliminates the need to start from scratch with every estimate, as it maps out a process and produces an initial estimate ahead of time.
Develop Staff Utilization Targets
Everyone wants the project completed as quickly as possible. By understanding the number of concurrent projects your staff is working on, for both external clients and internal work, accurate utilization targets can be set to link the timeline with your resource estimates. Utilization rates are applied to the estimated resource time at each stage of the process in order to calculate the optimum timeline. This enables the project’s immediate delivery without burdening your staff with an overbearing workload.
Invest in Systems
Trying to accomplish all of the above manually would be prohibitively time-consuming. Using a project management system along with estimating tools tailored for the agency’s particular cost structure, billing philosophy and processes proves to be efficient. These systems can do a lot of the legwork with just a handful of mouse clicks instead of hours spent with a calculator.
The Path to Accurate Project Estimates
1. Define the Project for Every Discipline: Scoping a project specifically for each discipline is vital. Taking a top-level approach to defining the project leaves important details out of the mix. It is important to understand, in detail, what will be required from each discipline and how each of the disciplines will be interacting and collaborating with the others throughout the project.
2. Define the Process: Once the nature and magnitude of work for each discipline is defined, then the work processes that will be used for each phase of the project must be determined. Building an estimate without considering the process to be used will likely overlook key factors that will affect cost and time.
3. Produce an Initial Standards-Based Estimate: Do the math! Using criteria based on the project definition produces a task-by-task estimate base for the selected process steps above.
4. Vet the Standards-Driven Estimate: Estimating standards provides a good ballpark estimate as a starting point. It's important for representatives from each discipline to assess this initial pass and to consider details in the project definition that general estimating cannot fully account for. Redlining and adjusting the estimate will fine-tune the estimate and ensure that it is accurate.
5. Close the Loop: After-action assessments that compare actuals to estimates for each discipline, even down to the task level, is a critical part of producing accurate estimates. Identifying which tasks are routinely over-estimated and which ones are routinely under-estimated allows you to make changes in estimating formulas. Vetting criteria to continuously improve estimating accuracy benefits external and internal stakeholders.