When developing a new idea for a product you often have to face a decision at a certain point. This decision is often not made by yourself but by people some levels above. You need to convince them of your idea so you make it as shiny as you can.
And then they will ask how long it will take you to realize..
When you present an idea you basically present a vision of what the future could look like. You visualize enough to make others understand what you’re talking about and you prepare enough details to answer all questions that you can anticipate.
You do not have a concept yet. Not even a rough one.
You can not estimate how long it takes because many if not most of the important questions that influence the realization process have not been answered. Yet the time estimate matters to those making a decision.
Here a re some rough rules to make it through that stage and provide an estimate that is as reliable as possible.
- Don’t do it without someone actually developing it!
- Use a work breakdown structure to identify parts you already know that need to be done.
- Set a rough level of accuracy by not estimating to an exact date or even month but to the quarter of a year.
- Make estimates relative to an estimated starting point and make clear that if that point is delayed everything else delays accordingly.
- Write down all assumptions you needed to make like availability of resources or components at a specific time. And make clear that your estimates build on them.
- Discuss what level of tolerance can be expected. Will a delay of one unit (quarter of a year) be accepted or with this jeopardize the acceptance of your idea? This determines your buffer.
- Add a buffer to everything. Add enough buffer to ensure overall acceptance of your idea both at decision stage as well as later during development.
- Don’t write down an estimate when you don’t feel ok about it.