Wikipedia defines the planning fallacy as “a tendency for people and organizations to underestimate how long they will need to complete a task, even when they have experience of similar tasks over-running.” In multiple studies of a wide array of tasks, people are consistently over-optimistic about the amount of time it will take them to complete any given task.
Does this sound familiar? We all succumb to it, but not many have heard of the planning fallacy. However, for anyone who creates time and cost estimates, it’s an important consideration. When you make a time/cost estimate, do you assume that all necessary documents will be available when and where you need them, people will pick up the phone when you need to know how to do something, all passwords will be easy to find (or remember), the phone won’t ring, no emergency emails will need to be answered, and no one in the office will bring up a video of a cat in a shark costume riding a Roomba (yes it exists, and yes it took up a good 15 minutes of our last staff meeting)?
A sad truth about the planning fallacy is that even though people are well aware that they were overly optimistic last time, they assume that this time they’re going to do better. How do you overcome your optimism? The obvious answer is to have reliable data that tells you exactly how long a similar task or project has taken previously and to use that data in your estimates. Making sure you have that data when you need it is the job of a good practice management system like Aero WorkFlow. Aero helps you streamline your workflow by gathering all the pieces you need to perform a task in one place. Its time tracking feature then makes sure that you know exactly how long it takes to do that task. After a month or so of managing your workflow with Aero, you will have a very good idea of how long it really takes to complete your client jobs– and how much you should be charging.
If you’d like to find out more about how Aero Workflow can help you complete your work on time and on budget, please let us know.