First steps in Instructional Design!

Estimating Project Costs and Resources


As every project, organization, and ID team are different, so are the costs associated with the projects being developed. Thankfully there are resources available so we don’t have to develop a budget according to Dilbert’s style above! You can find useful resources online that can help give a ROM estimate (Rough Order of Magnitude/Ballpark figure) or to help estimate the number of hours that will be required to create a project “based on a general sense of the type of work the project will likely entail” (Portny, Mantel, Meredith, Shafer, Sutton, & Kramer, 2008, p. 126). These links will be helpful not only to the project we are working on in class, but in our later work doing project management in an instructional design setting.

The first website is a treasure trove of information related to budgeting estimation guidelines, estimating development hours, and time to create interactive instruction, just to name a few. Many of the resources on this page are directly related to Instructional Design and the management, budgeting, and resource allocation needs of someone creating synchronous, asynchronous, or face-to-face learning. It also offers helpful ways to save money on production costs such as using free Creative Commons-licensed photos from flickr™ or using a free program such as Audacity™ to record audio content.

The second link I found helpful comes from the American Society for Training and Development, the ASTD. In addition to the entire website being focused on ID and training, there was a helpful article entitled Time to Develop One Hour of Training by Karl Kapp and Robyn Defelice. In it, they give another perspective, in addition to Don Clark’s site and link above, on the amount of hours needed to develop face-to-face, self-led instruction, or web-based training. They give a high and low estimate, also in comparison to data gathered back in 2003. They also discuss why the development hours have increased in most areas since 2003, and offer hints as to how to bring down these hours to a reasonable amount. This link serves as another helpful guide when estimating project scope and timeline.

While estimating work hours and budgets can be a daunting task, thankfully there are many resources available online to help guide an ID or PM in the right direction. Using these tools is helpful in getting your project started on the right foot.



Portny, S. E., Mantel, S. J., Meredith, J. R., Shafer, S. M., Sutton, M. M., & Kramer, B. E. (2008). Project management: Planning, scheduling, and controlling projects. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.



5 comments on “Estimating Project Costs and Resources

  1. Meredith Wolfe
    October 4, 2013

    Great post! I actually used the exact same two websites and found them pretty helpful. I was shocked how expensive development is! In the second website, I was interested to see the difference between years and that the cost is steadily increasing.

    I also enjoy your cartoon! 🙂 It was a good extra touch!

    • genahloger
      October 5, 2013

      Hey Meredith,
      Yes, I was a bit shocked at how much development is too. I have done graphic design for a number of years, so I had an idea that multimedia development especially would be pricey, but it still was a surprise!

  2. lucasmontrice
    October 6, 2013

    Hi Genah,
    I enjoyed your post. It seems like you have found some really great resources. I really enjoyed the comic strip at the beginning. I’m glad that there are resources to help guide estimating cost, development hours, etc. because using Dilbert’s style would definitely cause the project to probably be sidelined.


  3. Matthew Pittman
    October 6, 2013

    Excellent resources! I used Clark’s website as well but the ASTD link was great. I particularly liked that they showed estimates from both 2009 and 2003. It was interesting to see how they have mostly increased. The reasons they gave seemed to tie in to a previous discussion we have had in this class about creating an accurate project schedule and some of the things that can cause rework.

  4. mbanholzer
    October 6, 2013

    Wonderful resources. The first resource and your cartoon visual remind me of what Dr Stolovich shared this week about “thinking lean” when estimating costs. ID should make the most of the resources allocated to them for the project, especially when funds are tight. With a positive kick off for all team members, hopefully everyone will be ready to roll up their sleeves and work with what they have to ensure a successful project.

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