Estimating Formulas Interlude – “Secret Sauce” for Projects


Here is a mid-week interlude in the Estimating Formulas for Documentation and Training Projects blog posts.

This post was not originally planned, but an article from Bottom Line Performance entitled How to Create Award-Winning Training Solutions caught my eye. It identifies a “secret sauce” for developing award-winning training. I realized that part of the “sauce” also helps to plan, estimate, and sell projects. So enjoy this little interlude and add the information to your estimating arsenal.

I won’t keep you in suspense. The “secret sauce” is:

value + innovation = award-winning training

Though the article is about training, the “secret sauce” can also apply to documentation projects or any other consulting project.

What I found most interesting was the discussion on nailing down the value of the project to the client. As an instructional designer and technical writer, I am always careful to identify the value of the training or documentation for the audience and address the WIIFM (What’s In It For Me). However, as a consultant, I should be just as careful to identify the value of the project to the client. The project should solve a “quantifiable problem.” I should be asking clients “What bad things will happen if this project doesn’t occur?” “What bad things are happening now?” “How much are these bad things costing your company?”

Here is what I like about this:

  1. If the problem has only a small dollar value then it is silly for the client to spend a large amount of money on training or documentation for the problem. This helps with budgeting/estimating the project and recommending a sensible solution.
  2. It strengthens the client’s commitment to go through with the project.
  3. It helps with cost justification if the person you are working with needs to present the estimate to a superior for approval.
  4. It provides valuable data for completing a level 4 evaluation and for calculating the ROI.

So next time you are estimating a project, make sure to identify the value to the client.