One of the questions we hear most often from our clients is “how do you estimate a task?” How do we handle it? What factors do we take into account? We are happy to share this knowledge – we believe that in order to lead a fruitful cooperation such transparency is necessary. That is why we decided to publish the following article. This article will give you an overview of our estimation procedures.
How does an e-commerce agency estimate time needed to complete your project?
Let’s start at the beginning. And at the beginning we should explain which tasks are subject to estimation. Since we take a holistic approach to our work, we offer comprehensive services for e-commerce business. Therefore, we estimate a wide range of tasks:
- programming – tasks strictly connected with creating new solutions in your online store
- QA testing – connected with testing implemented changes,
- Helpdesk support, i.e. technical support for your store,
- server work – any tasks related to servers on which your store runs,
- tasks coordination, i.e. Project Manager’s supervision over the project consisting of controlling developers’ and testers’ work
- analyses – actions allowing us to conduct an in-depth analysis of your needs, available technologies and store development opportunities,
- graphic work, i.e. work on the graphic design of your store,
- documentation – creating documents including technologies and their use in the project.
We already know what is being estimated. Now it is time to show – in what way. At Gate-Software we have developed over the years a scheme for creating estimates for individual tasks and projects. It assumes that the whole estimation consists of:
- mostly working time of the production department (i.e. programming, server work, deployment – all with an assumed buffer of 10-15% for corrections),
- working time of QA department (i.e. 2 testing lines, regression testing, completing documentation, estimated time of handling tickets in the Helpdesk),
- working time of Project Manager (i.e. managing the team and tasks, as well as contact with the client – you).
The proportions of the estimated time in each department are selected based on the specific task. Each customer is treated individually and the estimation is adjusted to his actual needs and possibilities.
Task estimation – what does the procedure look like?
Let’s suppose you’ve just outsourced a task to us (we have a very interesting entry about that on our blog!). Want to know how its estimation looks like? Step 1 – Helpdesk ticket. You create a ticket in the Helpdesk yourself or we do it on your behalf when you order the task through another channel. Step 2 – accepting the estimation time. We usually need 2-3 hours to estimate the task, although the time may vary depending on the scale of the challenge. We ask you to accept it and once we get the green light we proceed to write down the assumptions. Step 3 – estimation. In the next step we prepare estimation for you. It consists of collecting detailed guidelines as well as time estimation necessary to perform the task by members of particular departments. A ready task estimation together with a detailed description is send to you. Step 4 – acceptation. If you accept the estimation, you confirm the ticket in Helpdesk, and we proceed to work.
What happens when estimation time is exceeded?
Sometimes (very rarely) it happens that even the best thought-out time estimation begins to deviate from reality. This happens in various cases, usually those related to unforeseen or random events. What does a good e-commerce agency do in such a situation? Two things:
- first of all – stops the work and collects all information about the reasons, as well as data on updates to the duration of the work,
- second – Project Manager immediately contacts you with an update and asks for your decision regarding next steps.
All of this to ensure that you have constant control over working time and, consequently, the budget allocated to the project.
Task estimation is one of the most important elements of cooperation between an online store and an e-commerce agency. Properly done allows you to estimate the scale of the task and its budget with the highest probability. We hope that thanks to this article you have acquired additional knowledge, which will make your relationship with your technology partner run more smoothly. Finally, we wish you only well estimated projects, which will bring you measurable business benefits.