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Estimation Predictability in Project Management

How to Build and Sustain High-Performing Teams

Jeremy Abernathy

Jeremy Abernathy, Agile Consultant at MetaPM, shares their thoughts on Estimation Predictability in Project Management. Originally shared on Jeremy's LinkedIn page, August 4, 2023.


Hi! My name is Jeremy Abernathy, and I am an Agile Coach with MetaPM. Over my career, I have worked in various organizations ranging across multiple industries. These engagements have allowed me to be embedded within teams delivering customer-facing products and tools.

One aspect of delivery that is often problematic is estimation predictability. While being an Agile Coach at MetaPM, I’ve had the opportunity to reflect on this topic and wanted to share my thoughts with the community.
I often think that some teams and project managers tend to focus solely on achieving near-perfect estimates, often neglecting the bigger picture of what is being released and the overall project outcomes. In this article, I want to share my perspective on estimation predictability and its impact on project management.

What is Estimation Predictability?

Estimation, in its simplest form, determines how long or complex a piece of work will take to deliver. It is a valuable tool used in Agile methodologies to plan and allocate resources. Estimation predictability refers to accurately forecasting project timelines based on historical data and lessons learned. While the intention behind striving for predictability is understandable, some companies become so fixated on getting estimates right that they lose sight of the actual work being done and the value delivered.

The consequence of this singular focus on estimation predictability is a diversion of valuable time and effort. Teams spend excessive amounts of time on estimating and reporting rather than actively working on delivering valuable outcomes. The business may be satisfied with accurate reports, but if the end customers do not receive tangible value in a timely manner, the project's true purpose is compromised.




Project managers face several challenges to achieve estimation predictability without sacrificing project outcomes. The nature of the unpredictable and ever-changing IT landscape poses a significant hurdle. While estimates provide a rough timeframe, unforeseen events and uncertainties can impact project timelines and outcomes. The key lies in setting up teams to respond effectively to change and pivot when necessary. Agile methodologies promote the breakdown of work into smaller, incremental deliverables, allowing for flexibility and faster response to unexpected events.

In my experience, stakeholders' collaboration and active involvement are vital in managing expectations and ensuring transparency. By adopting shorter timeframes, such as two-week windows, project managers can regularly showcase progress to stakeholders. This keeps them informed and allows for quick feedback loops and adjustments. Project managers can effectively manage stakeholder expectations and maintain transparency by demonstrating what has been accomplished, what is being worked on, and what challenges lie ahead.

Historical Data

Historical data plays a crucial role in improving estimation predictability. Project managers can refine their estimation capabilities by analysing past projects and learning from estimation deviations. It is essential to create an environment that encourages learning and continuous improvement, where teams are not afraid to provide inaccurate estimates but focus on understanding why estimates may have been off and how to improve them over time.

Open and Collaborative Conversations

While tools like Jira and other project management software offer estimation tracking features, I believe effective estimation comes from fostering open and collaborative conversations within the team. By breaking down work and involving the team members responsible for its execution, project managers can gain valuable insights into the complexities and potential risks. This collaboration leads to more accurate estimates and shared accountability.

Risk Management

Risk management also plays a vital role in estimation predictability. It is essential to identify potential risks, allocate buffers, and have contingency plans in place. However, the true strength lies in the team's ability to respond to unforeseen events and adapt swiftly. Building a resilient team that can navigate uncertainties and learn from challenges is key to achieving estimation predictability.


To summarise, estimation predictability is a valuable aspect of project management. However, it should not be the sole focus of project managers and teams. By embracing Agile principles, fostering collaboration, and prioritising value delivery, project managers can strike a balance between estimation predictability and achieving project outcomes. Through continuous improvement, open communication, and adaptability, project managers can successfully enhance their estimation skills and navigate the ever-changing landscape of project management.


MetaPM was founded in 2006 by a group of management experts with a vision to do project consulting in the best way possible. In 2022, they joined MI-GSO | PCUBED, a world-leading PMO & Project Management Consulting group.

Investing in continuous education, MetaPM recognises the need for project managers to build upon their skills. If this gravitates toward your values, connect with MetaPM today.

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