Friday, May 23, 2014

The thing about ratios

Wouldn't it be nice if we could ban % Complete from the lexicon of project management!

% complete is a ratio, numerator/denominator. The big issue is with the denominator. The denominator, which is supposed to represent the effort required, is really dynamic and not static, and thus requires constant update -- something that almost never happens.

Why update?
Because you are always discovering that stuff isn't as easy as it first looked. Thus, we tend to get "paralyzed" at 90% (no progress in the numerator, and an obsolete denominator)

Doesn't changing the denominator mean you're changing the plan along the way? Yes, but the alternative is remain frozen on a metric/plan you are not tracking (or tracking to)

What's the fix?.

Personally, I prefer these metrics, none of which are ratios. And, why do I like this set of non-ratio? Because there is a good mix of "input" which is always of concern to the PM and the sponsors, and "output" which is always of concern to users and customers, and is the value generator for the business. Thus, this set keeps an eye on both the input and the output.
  • Objects planned, or baseline (input)
  • Objects completed (output)
  • Objects abandoned (unnecessary requirement or deferred)
  • Objects added (new)
  • Objects remaining (output)
  • Objects variance (baseline - outputs)
  • Budgeted consumption (input)
  • Budgeted usage (input)
  • Resource remaining (output)
  • Resource at completion (usage + output)
  • Variance (consumption - completion)

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