The uncertainty of the economy, the complexity of running projects in a large business, or simply the difficulty of predicting human behavior, make project forecasting increasingly challenging.
Indeed, a 2022 survey by PMI found that 71% of project managers are concerned about the accuracy of their project forecasts. So how do you ensure your plans are as accurate as possible?
Chances are, if you’re familiar with Tempo, you’re familiar with what project forecasting is. But, in the spirit of completeness, we asked our local friendly AI to give us a summary:
Project forecasting is the process of estimating future project outcomes, such as costs, timelines, and resource needs, based on current and historical data. It helps teams and stakeholders make informed decisions and proactively manage risks.
In this blog we’re not going to explain what project forecasting is or why it’s important. No, we’re going to explore how you make your forecasts more accurate.
Psst, before we dive in. If you’re interested in exploring project forecasting best practice from the top down for 2024, our Roadmunk team recently covered that in this piece on 2024 roadmapping.
Best practices for accurate project forecasting
Start early and update often
The earlier you start your forecasting, the better. But remember, forecasting is not a one-time event; it's an ongoing process. Keep revisiting your forecasts to adapt to changes and make sure you're still on track, and your data is accurate.
Use historical and real-time data
Combining historical data with real-time updates provides a comprehensive view for better forecasting. While past projects offer invaluable insights into timelines, resource allocation, and potential pitfalls, real-time data keeps you agile. It allows you to adapt to any immediate changes in your project's landscape. This blended approach ensures your forecast is both grounded and flexible.
Involve the right stakeholders
Forecasting shouldn't be a solitary task. Involve team members, project managers, and key stakeholders to get a well-rounded perspective. This creates a more inclusive and thorough forecast. Communicate early and often to gather feedback and continuously improve.
Use project forecasting software
Project forecasting software streamlines the data collection, analysis, and visualization processes. This allows project managers to aggregate real-time data from various sources and expedite the generation of accurate forecasts.
Perform scenario analysis
Always prepare for multiple outcomes. Analyzing various scenarios helps you become proactive rather than reactive. Evaluate the risks associated with each scenario and create mitigation plans for the highest-priority risks.
This approach not only prepares you for different eventualities but also reduces project vulnerabilities. By incorporating scenario analysis and risk management, you're championing a strategic mindset that's both optimistic and thorough, setting the stage for project success.
Plan for uncertainties
Include a contingency plan that outlines what steps will be taken if assumptions don't hold or if unforeseen events occur. Being prepared for 'what-ifs' ensures that surprises won't derail your project.
Whether it's resource allocation changes, budget fluctuations, or unexpected market shifts, your contingency plan serves as your go-to playbook. So when curveballs come your way, you're not just reacting – you're steering your project confidently towards success.
Always question the assumptions your forecast is built on. Are they still valid? Could external factors like market changes affect them? Double-checking keeps your forecast grounded.
Keep it simple
In the world of project forecasting, complexity is not your friend. It's easy to get bogged down in intricate models, exhaustive spreadsheets, and elaborate algorithms. But here's the thing: simplicity shines. Aim to create forecasts that are straightforward yet comprehensive, easy to understand but rich in insights.
This approach makes your data accessible and digestible for everyone on your team, from project managers to executives, ensuring everyone is on the same page. And when everyone gets it, action happens faster and more efficiently. Plus, a simple forecast is easier to adapt, letting you switch gears smoothly if circumstances change.
Review and adapt
Wrap up your project on a high note by not just reviewing, but also celebrating what went well and learning from what didn't. Compare your forecasts with the actual outcomes to identify any gaps. But don't stop there – consistently track performance metrics over time to capture trends, successes, and areas for improvement.
This invaluable data is your secret sauce for refining your future forecasting efforts. Whether it's cost efficiency, time management, or resource utilization, tracking performance lets you quantify your wins and strategize your next big leap forward.
How to leverage Tempo’s tools for accurate project forecasting
With Tempo's suite of modular resourcing, capacity, and cost management tools, all native to Jira, organizations can confidently plan and improve their bottom line by bringing rich information into the forecasting process. Teams can optimize resource capacity in less time through data-driven project, individual, and team planning, and adjust future forecasts more accurately.
Let’s dive into a few features to show you what we mean.
Timesheets by Tempo
Accurate timesheets are your ticket to accurate planning, management, tracking, and reporting.
- Dive deep with granular reporting. With Timesheets you can track both agents' and non-agents' time on each ticket. This gives you unparalleled visibility into where your team is making an impact and where bottlenecks might be lurking. It's like having a magnifying glass for your project's performance – everything you need to fine-tune your forecasting!
- Dynamic time tracking for individuals and teams. Why settle for one-size-fits-all when you can have tailored insights? Timesheets lets you differentiate between types of work, whether it's individual tasks or team efforts. This helps you allocate resources more efficiently and makes your forecasts as precise as a Swiss watch.
- AI powered Timesheets = Better adoption. With calendar integrations and intelligent suggestions the drudgery of logging time becomes a thing of the past, which means your team won’t mind doing it. Better adoption means more accurate data and, you guessed it, more accurate forecasting.
Planner by Tempo
Planner empowers you to forecast with unparalleled confidence through precise, data-driven planning for projects, individuals, and teams.
Optimize team capacity for real success. Is your team running at full throttle or barely making it to the finish line? With Planner you can be sure that your team has the right capacity to deliver on time, every time. Get the data you need to ensure your forecasts aren't just optimistic – they're spot-on realistic!
Skill-based team assignments for the win. Matchmaking isn't just for dating; it's for project success! With Planner you can assign tasks based on individual skills and skill sets. This ensures that every project component is in the hands of a true expert, making your forecasts as reliable as they are brilliant.
Streamline work allocation, eliminate confusion. Engage the right talent for the right tasks, and say goodbye to project chaos. With Planner your team members know exactly what they should be working on, eliminating confusion and making your forecasts clearer and more actionable.
Cost Tracker by Tempo
Harness accurate, real-time worklog data from Timesheets by Tempo to create clear and simple views to track the cost of resolving client service requests.
Turn time into money with success metrics. Why just track time when you can turn it into actionable financial insights? With Cost Tracker, your time-tracking data evolves into tangible success metrics. Now you can quantify achievements in your assigned work and adjust your forecasts for pinpoint accuracy.
Unveil future success with smart project forecasting. Go beyond guesswork; use data to drive your future! Cost Tracker helps you discern recurring patterns in your projects, enabling you to make more accurate future predictions. Better forecasts mean more successful projects, and who doesn't want that?
Real-time financials at your fingertips. The world moves fast, and your project financials should too. Cost Tracker gives you live access to your project's financial metrics, allowing for immediate insights and rapid decision-making. Keep your finger on the pulse, and your forecasts will never miss a beat.
Elevate your view with portfolio financial analysis. Don't just look at projects in isolation; see the big picture. Cost Tracker allows you to group projects into portfolios for a comprehensive view of your financial performance. Make high-level assessments that inform and refine your forecasting strategy.
See it for yourself
If you work in client services and want to see how Tempo can help with your project forecasting then sign up for our upcoming webinar to learn more.