Wednesday, 12 March 2014

A pilot doesn't try and fly a plane without instruments, neither should a Project Manager

A pilot has logged the flight plan and taken off to his chosen destination. He doesn't then sit back and hope for the best, he monitors where he is against the plan and makes controlled adjustments or in a worse case scenario makes a mayday call before he crashes. Guess what, a Project Manager should do the same - it's called Monitoring and Control.

Proverbs to illustrate Monitoring and Control

I love a Proverb or two and this one illustrates why you should get some good monitoring and control in place to avoid that embarrassing Project Board question! 
Project Proverb - How do Projects slips? Answer One day at a time

So what monitoring should you have in place? The following Proverb warns of the dangers of percentage complete as a monitoring metric.
Project Tasks progress quickly until they become 90% complete then remain near 90% complete for many weeks

Estimate to Complete (ETC) is a better basic task monitoring approach considering both effort and duration. Certainly for tasks over a couple of weeks maximum I am looking for alternative metrics. This could be some interim milestones or metrics specific to the task at hand - remember the Proverb If you can't measure it, you can't manage it!

Example - IT Software Migration Technical Analysis Phase

Here are some real example metrics from two IT project phases.

In this first example, there was a long task to analyse a number of existing objects within a database. This "analysis not started" plan graph per database was used to monitor progress over a long task length (progress against plan has been removed for clarity).

Project Progress Monitoring - Use of Metrics

Example - IT Software System and Integration Test Phase

In a software test phase I would first look for a "run plan" measuring text execution. As per the graph below you can map the cases executed (not necessarily passed, it could be failed but at least the defect is identified)

Project Progress Monitoring - Test Case Execution over Time

In a tabular form, a point in time could be:

You also need to have metrics around the defects status - are they getting fixed at a good rate, any priority defects (which are blocking test case execution), are we past the hump of outstanding defects that you tend to get.

Project Progress Monitoring - Test Defect Status Metrics

So this table can be replicated for each functional area being tested and a a stacked graph created of defects owned by "Development" (Open, Analysis and Being Fixed statuses in the above example).

In Conclusion....

So once you have your plan in place and get into your cockpit to fly your project to it's destination, please ensure you have working instruments as well as securing your seatbelt!


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Monitor and Control Your Projects
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