KPIs for business success—Are you flying blind

Do you run a PMO?   Are you responsible for consistent, effective, efficient and predictable project delivery?   Can you imagine an airline pilot flying a plane without a fuel gauge, altimeter, flight cockpit_slasher-fun-flicker_4960975377_342fff2452.jpg system/control unit or any of other controls that enable the pilot to fly the aircraft?  Do you remember the infamous case of the Northwest Airlines flight that missed the airport by 150 miles?  But for many in charge of a PMO, limitations in the technology to help them better pilot their projects have left them flying blind. 

How do you know if you and your projects are on track?  How do you know how things are really going?  (And I mean before you get the angry phone call from a sponsor about the latest project surprise.)

First, let’s start with the obvious.   If you don’t have a consistent set of metrics and measures for your projects, then you probably experience more surprises than you like.  It might feel like you’re flying without any instruments (where your low fuel indicators is the silence of when the engines stop).  Instruments are one of the keys that make aviation safe… and sound metrics are a key to project success.

So, what do you measure?   Is it earned value, schedule slippage, defect density, or velocity (not airspeed)?  More important than the measurement, is the interpretation and understanding of what the measurement tells you and the actions you can take.  Agile, CMMI and Six Sigma all rely on metrics and measurement as a foundation for future improvement and innovation.  Measurement and Analysis is a core process area in CMMI, as is measurement system analysis in Six Sigma.  Regardless of the methodology, metrics are vital.

Managing a project is about achieving a balance between competing, conflicting priorities.  Scope, schedule, cost and quality to name a few.  Time and resources are limited and trade-offs must be made to achieve balance.  Your instrument panel needs to give you quick access to understand that your project is on track to arrive safely at the intended destination.   If you’re spending too much, too early, then you’re in trouble.  The sooner you know it, the sooner you can intervene and make adjustments to safely reach the destination.   But, it’s not about what one metric is telling you, but rather the story that all of them tell you. 

Here are some thoughts about what to measure:

Schedule:    Are tasks being completed on time

Cost and budget: Are the project expenses occurring as expected

Issue management: Are issues being resolved appropriately

Risk management: Are risks being managed, mitigated and addressed

Quality:Are defects being found as expected

First, you’ll notice that I’m not telling you exactly what to measure or how.   earned value, velocity, burndown, all work – but you have to make a choice.    Also, notice that for many of these, I’m suggesting that “as expected” is a crucial component.   Take defects as an example.  If you are expecting near zero defects, then you had best have an incredible amount of time and money to pay the price.  Rather, there is an expected range of defects, just like when you drive your car – your fuel economy has an expected range for driving in the city, which is different from the highway.

I’m really excited about what we’re doing to help organizations be more successful.  With today’sIT Performance Suite.jpgannouncement about the CIO Edition of the IT Performance suite, we’re helping you create the instrument panel for your projects.   With this information, you’ll be able to take control and improve your performance.  Just ask a pilot to fly without instruments… Once you fly with these instruments, you won’t want to go back

Article source: HP PPM Blog

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