How to quantify time requirements for tasks that are almost purely problem-solving or creative? And how to set deadlines based on those estimates?
Practical scenario in my team:
Steve must find a solution to a never seen before problem A, which includes researching/reading up about similar problems, analyzing the problem A and trying out various ideas until he finds the solution. The company wants problem A to be figured out and solved by end of this week. At the same time, there is another task B which we know will take around 30 hours, and that needs to be done by end of next week. Senior management wants regular updates on status of B and is not keen on doing it last minute.
Both A and B must be done by Steve.
How exactly can I quantify A so that I can, for example, ask senior management that we start B later?
Gut feeling says researching and figuring out what A is may take a whole day, implementing it four-five days. Could I then say that A will take six days, after which we can dedicate four full days to problem B?
Any other ideas how I can tackle a problem like this?