The following is adapted from The Irreverent Guide to Project Management.
When you’re starting a new project or tackling a new task, a Work Plan is indispensable. This plan can help you gauge what needs to be done, how much work each step is going to take, and which tasks are assigned to which team members.
Of course, there are a lot of variables, contingencies, and problems that can disrupt that Work Plan, and at the outset of a project, it can be difficult to tell how long work is going to take. Team members often feel uncomfortable about providing estimates of how long they will need to complete their designated tasks. That’s a totally understandable feeling, but that reluctance can get in the way of progress.
That’s where the SWAG—or, Scientific Wild-Ass Guess—comes in. Of course, some guesses are better than others, so I will provide some tips on how you can make your SWAG lean more towards the science side than to wild-assery. That said, no matter how accurate the guess ends up being, a SWAG will move your project forward every time.