Reserve Analysis is a fundamental analytical technique that determines an estimated time reserve for a task and establishes scheduled duration for this task. The technique allows using time reserves to define and protect duration estimates through offsetting unexpected issues that arise. It is best used in estimating tasks that belong to larger activities and projects.
The benefit of using reserve analysis is that this technique lets schedule tasks with safety and accuracy because time reserves create buffers that protect from task delays, breaks and other undesired variations. Meanwhile, the technique involves complexity: time reserve estimations can be complicated if an activity is larger.
The following action list describes how to perform reserve analysis for estimating task duration:
- Define a task or activity that will be estimated
- Identify resources necessary for the task
- Decompose the task into smaller activities and sub-tasks
- Estimate individual duration for every sub-task
- Sum up individual durations
- Create a rough duration estimate for the task (individual durations are considered)
- Design a task timeline based on the estimate
- Allocate resources along the timeline
- Extend the timeline for 5-8%. This extension will be a reserve pool of time that protects the task from unexpected issues
- Divide the time reserve into smaller periods or buffers
- Allocate buffers along the timeline to those places in which the task suffers from high uncertainty
- Calculate total duration of the task (buffers are considered).