November 21, 2022

Making project estimates with multiple people involved

Howdy! πŸ‘‹ If we could sum up the last 20 years of development of modern tools we'd use the word "collaboration". You rarely work alone, and modern software (be it installed or Cloud) usually enables you to work with others. This includes your proposals!

Why work as a group?

This question might seem strange - afterall, most people would rather have some help them out and go home early. However, in certain trades - including software development - the answer is not always obvious.

You see, tech folks tend to be rather self-sufficient and perfectly capable of delivering value on their own. Programmers do work in teams, divide larger work into small tasks for easy distribution and use practices such as pair coding, but many of them don't necessarily love these ideas. And even if they do, certain tasks or just bad days they'd rather put on their headphones and zone out.

"The idea is to have enough volume for others to perfectly hear your music - that's socialization, right?"

One thing you definitely have to keep in mind is the (real and imaginary) war between sales and tech.

WAR πŸ”«

Developers HATE pesky salespeople asking them stupid questions and demanding the impossible πŸ‘Ώ

Salespeople HATE the uptight devs who never make the 1 feature required for a big sale 😑

In most healthy organizations work does not look like this and Slack memes about this decades-long war are not understood or quickly forgotten. However, even in a completely healthy setting you have to keep in mind that the types of work and tasks of different members of team do differ.

Some people will have to estimate the project. Others will have to sell it. And yet others need to actually deliver, so the customer does not sue you into oblivion.

"For not delivering emoji support, we sentence you to 80 years in a quarry and all of your frontend developers to supporting IE6 until 2070"

Think who has any input role in a particular proposal and then try to plan when (at which stage) they should be involved in what capacity. State this upfront, so expectations are clear.

Execute your plan, not employees

With a plan in place, you need to have any tool that fits the criteria of:

βœ… Inviting multiple people

βœ… Assigning them roles/permissions

βœ… Letting them talk to each other or suggest edits

βœ… Making the end result useful for actually sending to the customer

Obviously, we are biased and have an interest in stating that Apropo - you know, the tool that has a blog you're reading right now - does all of this. It's the whole point of our product, actually.

You could get by with Google Docs, online Excel file, Asana, other proposal tools or something you code on your own. We do think is more convenient, but it's not the tool that matters more, it's the process.

"Imagine cooperation based on sending a box of post-it notes to remote workers. You'd need to assemble them using color coding and then send further. Beautiful, isn't it?"

When making project estimates, always select tools that allow for collaboration. At least between your team members, at best also incuding the end customer.

In an ideal world:

πŸ₯° Your salespeople gather initial requirements from the customer

πŸ₯° Price of an hour of work of every type is present from the get-go or established for a particualar project

πŸ₯° Sales creates a very rough proposal draft with the functionalities requested by customer

πŸ₯° Heads of dev/Scrum masters break these down into smaller modules & tasks, add stuff if needed (dependencies)

πŸ₯° Developers put in their hours into well-structured and complete tasks

πŸ₯° The proposal goes back to sales with full price & time calculated

πŸ₯° Customer gets the proposal in any way that allows them to comment & make suggestions

Apropo does just this

We're REALLY trying not to be too aggressive with self-promotion, but it's true. is designed specifically to enable and facilitate such a process. If you're interested, start a free & non-binding trial.

Regardless if you plan your next project estimates with our tool or not, please keep in mind the checklist of required elements and the ideal process.

We used to think Deilbert is just a parody, not how many companies work. Boy, were we wrong"

This does require some effort on project planners and company management, but produces much better results and atmosphere of work for everyone - both tech and sales employees. Even if there is no regular war between them at your organization, implementing measures preventing such wars from happening with time & scale is quite beneficial.


This is the very last post from yours truly. Further content will see a change of editor. The style may change a little bit, but you can always expect only high quality content about estimating projects, pricing and digital company management. I'm myself thrilled to see what comes up in the next post!

Thank you for the time together! πŸ‘‹

Michael Grubka
CEO at Apropo

Professional Salesman and Negotiator. 7 years of experience in IT sales with more than 70 deals closed and 500 estimates done. Co-owner of award-winning software development company.

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