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Time Estimates vs. Actual time

02 December, 2022

The challenge of balancing time estimates with actual time spent

We've all been there. We take on a relatively straightforward job and we provide the customer with a time estimate based on our best understanding at the time. But when it's time to invoice the customer for the work, we realize that the original time estimate is grossly exceeded. 
We now have to decide between sticking with the original estimate and surprising the customer with an increased bill.

The "businessperson" inside our head is telling us to invoice the customer for the full amount, after all we only gave a time estimate. But the customer minded professional inside our head is worried about how the customer will react and what the consequences would be.



The reality of unforeseen situations

Skilled and experienced project managers must take into consideration a wide mix of uncertainties. Unforeseen situations can occur due to external factors such as unfavorable weather conditions causing delays, material supplier delays or unexpected surprises such as additional demolition required.

Even seemingly small things, like construction workers having to clear a building site from debris prior to starting work, can cause work to not progress according to plan.

These types of unforeseen situations are generally not included in site reports to the site manager but if they are, only at a very late stage in the project when time estimations are already failing.

The immediate results of these types of lax reporting practices include actual billable work being done but not reported on and thus not included in customer invoices. The result of continued under-reporting difficulties in planning leads to decreased productivity and profitability.

Focusing on the things you can control

Luckily, there is a solution. Using Buildbite’s easy-to-use project management capabilities, each active Project is broken down into Phases and Tasks. Each Phase and Task can then be assigned to a named builder or craftsman, and the time spent working on specific tasks is easily tracked with Buildbite's Time Tracking and automatically compared against original time estimations.

The project manager can set up time triggers for each time estimate and receive automated notifications when certain time thresholds are exceeded. This will give the Project Manager ample time to react and take corrective action in a timely manner.

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