5

I'm a web developer, and I'm doing back-end and front-end to a project of the company I'm currently working at. I have a PM (Project Manager) for this project and I do report to him every day.

Recently, the PM estimated hours to conclude a list of tasks (so, a milestone), but he didn't ask me if it's enough (and he passed this estimative to the customer). So, currently, I see this as a miscommunication or missing teamwork.

So I have some specific concerns:

1. Is it correct to the PM define hours without contacting the software's developers?
2. Should I help the PM to estimate hours?
3. Who is the responsible if the devloper can't do the feature in the time allocated by the PM?

How can I address these concerns to the PM? Should I try addressing them?

  • Business pushing dates towards IT is certainly not uncommon, while we would preffer to see them pushing complete and challenged requirements. Without these, honnestly the estimation of a PM has as much value as the one from an IT. At least you can’t be made responsible for it, but that doesn’t mean you won’t be... – Laurent S. Feb 11 '18 at 9:20
  • " Is it correct to the PM define hours without contacting the software's developers?" That depends on how the process of the company requires estimates to be done. – pmf Feb 12 '18 at 16:40
1

1) Yes. 2) Yes if asked. 3) Depends on the company/customer/PM.

I'm coming from the perspective of a software developer in the automotive sector. The jobs I'm assigned to are often under-quoted on hours for any particular task, and even if they're not under-quoted, the final date before project completion generally can't move, so any slips in previous departments tend to end up in my court for resolving (Robot/NC/PLC programming are usually the final stages of a given project).

The PM is hired by the company to forecast resource allocations for any particular project as s/he sees fit. This means, in general, that the forecast will never be 100% accurate. However frustrating this may be, there are several solutions that don't involve getting upset with the PM and demanding that they at leas consult the dev doing the work before forecasting (trust me, it didn't work for me, and it caused a large number of issues for me professionally). The PM may also feel that an attempt to tell them they're wrong is a slight against them professionally or personally.

The best way to approach this IMO (and I'm answering the question I feel is implied at this point) is to cover your back and document everything. Keep a detailed list of tasks, the priorities given for each (which the PM should be providing), how long each task took, and if it took longer than expected, a detailed reason why (be honest, even if it's your mistake).

In my particular company (Italian company operating in the USA) missed timing requires an NC (non-compliance) to be filed. This NC can be filed against any of a multitude of stages of the project, including the PM or proposals teams. If your company does not have such a procedure, keep a log of things that delayed your ability to complete tasks.

If the PM is supportive of it, I would also suggest putting out a regular report (daily/weekly/monthly depending on the project term and the perceived deficit of hours) keeping a log of what was tasked for that time period, versus what was achieved. The explanation of any resultant gap is in the documentation you should be doing to cover yourself.

TL;DR the PM is trusted by the company to do as they see fit for forecasting. The only thing you can do is request they prioritize your tasks, and document anything/everything that doesn't meet the timeline.

6
  1. No, the PM should not in general be estimating effort/time without Dev input.
  2. Yes, even if it's just flagging issues that may get more or less involved than firstly appearing.
  3. Whoever estimates them, basically.

There maybe commercial aspects to the supplied estimates, meaning the PM needs to quote quickly or quote completion by a certain date, and while normally there'll be efforts to meet the deadlines, if that would require significant effort beyond the norm, then the responsibility is with the estimator, in the first case.

4

I am going to answer this from a PM perspective. What is the main function of a PM? To communicate relevant information about budgets and timing between stakeholders and participants in the project. There are several reasons why a PM doesn't have to ask developers about the time needed:

  • PM has managed projects with exactly this task before, and knows how long it took the last time.
  • The risk of the task failing in timing is low, and mitigation is available
  • The hour budget is so low that even overshooting by a factor of 2 doesn't change the picture.
  • The milestone is not critical for the customer (PM is in charge of communicating this)
  • PM has other sources (e.g. technical lead) which estimate the time for him
  • Customer and PM agree that the task is time-boxed (i.e. if not successful within the time, it will be dropped)

This answer obviously is different if you have a well defined agile procedure, or if the PM is just randomly guessing numbers, but a priori the way in which he handled it doesn't need to be bad.

  • Well, in my situation there is no Technical leader in the project; but viewing with the other perspectives, I understood your point. – pitter Feb 11 '18 at 17:40
  • 3
    You are failing your role as Project Manager if you provide estimates to customers ISO asking your team to do it for you. It doesn't matter how experienced you are or what your stakeholders are pushing you to do. Your role is to protect the team from such things, not substitute yourself for the team and commit on stories and effort in their stead. Please don't offer advice that is obviously flawed. – BoboDarph Feb 12 '18 at 10:25
  • You are also presuming yours is the only job the technical department have to do. – WendyG Feb 13 '18 at 12:46
1
  1. Yes
  2. Yes
  3. Depends on the company. If you go over perhaps a review will help to identify where the problem is
1

It depends on your company and the rules in that company. If the PM makes the estimate and is responsible for that estimate than that is ok. But you should get paid according to the work you have to do. They should pay you overtime or it just takes longer (i.e. 3 weeks instead or 2 weeks regular workdays).

If the PM and the management expects that you work unpaid extra hours if the PM made a wrong estimation then that is a problem which has to be solved. Then you should get involved.

In that way the answer to your three questions is: It depends.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.