PERT and FPA Estimation - Not Just for Schedules or Software Development

cost management schedule management technical Jun 19, 2022
PERT and FPA Estimation - Not Just for Schedules or Software Development

Despite many internet articles to the contrary, PERT (Program Evaluation Review Technique) and FPA (Function Point Analysis) can be valuable for many projects outside of software-related industries and not just for scheduling.

PERT estimation was a part of a more extensive system and was designed to focus on schedules.  Its benefit is that it mathematically provides everything an estimate should have, including a range and a confidence level. 

Often, schedules have uncertainty, so having three estimation points can address that and be used to form a range.  Costs have uncertainty as well and can be estimated by the same method.  If you need an estimate with a range and confidence level and need to answer estimate "what if" questions, PERT is an excellent technique to use, regardless of what you are estimating.

Similarly, FPA was initially designed to measure the repeatable units of software projects (e.g., lines of code, functions and subroutines, or other code packages). However, many different types of projects in other industries have repeatable units.  FPA can be applied to these projects as well. For example, in construction, if we know how much lumber, paint, effort, and other materials go into a square foot of a home, FPA could be a good way to go.

Finally, don’t fear mixing techniques. For example, US Patent number 7,801,834 B2 (Method and Apparatus for Estimating Tool) describes a system that includes an order of magnitude and function point analysis estimates with calculated ranges.  It was designed to estimate software configuration projects with a limited number of potential configurations.  Choose the estimating methods that best fit your project needs without concern for the industry or application they initially served.

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