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Will Your Project Ship On Time?

June 17, 2008 8 comments

Will Your Project Ship OnTime?I am working on a simple test that software development teams could use to determine whether or not their projects will ship on-time. I ran this test by Eric Sink who helped refine a couple of the questions. I think his input made the test stronger and I’d like to get some feedback from you.

It would be great to see what your results are and if you agree with the results based on this test:

Question Response Calculate Points
1. How many total team members do you have (count everybody)? _____ x -2 = _____
2. How many non-engineers (non-developers) in your team (testers/mgrs/etc.)? _____ x -2 = _____
3. Break down your team to # of Members with:
– Negative or Neutral Productivity
– Normal Positive Productivity
– Superstar Productivity
_____
_____
_____
x -5 = _____
x 3 = _____
x 10 = _____
4. Expected Project Duration – Use This Scale:
< 3 Months = 0
3-6 Months = -2
6-10 Months = -6
11-18 Months = -15
18+ Months = -30
  x 1 = _____
5. Organizational strictness on methodologies or processes:
– Hard Core about following a heavy methodology (6-sigma or similar) = -6
– We strictly follow an agile process (scrum, XP, etc.) = 0
– We follow best practices or loosely follow agile process = 2
– We don’t do any process or best practices = -6
  x 1 = _____
6. Is your project broken down into tasks & features with estimates for each?
– Yes = 2
– No = -6
  x 1 = _____
7. Does each team member have a task-level checklist of when the project is done?
– Yes = 5
– No = -15
  x 1 = _____
  Total: _______

To determine whether your team will ship the project on-time, use your Total Score and compare it to the following scale:

Negative Total: Forget about it – Your project is at risk of cancellation.
1-9: Project will finish late.
10-24: Project has a good chance of finishing close to schedule (within 10-15% of estimate)
24-50: Your team has a reputation of delivering on-time!
50+: It’s unlikely that you have that many superstars. Go back and take the test again.

The goal here is to make questions easy to answer and still be able to get accurate results. I am going to make this test into a web-based calculator that any member of the development team could use to help determine their team’s chances of shipping software on-time, so I need as much feedback as you can give.

There are a lot of other factors that came to mind, but were omitted from the test to keep things simple. For example, you might be thinking “what about using past success rates” or “quality of estimates” in determining whether the team will ship on-time. However, I’m trying to leave out questions that are difficult to answer (too subjective) and allow for first-time teams to still be able to use the calculator to estimate their success rate (no reliance on historical data).

You might also ask “isn’t it subjective to categorize your team into 3 levels of productivity?” The answer is yes it’s a little subjective, but I bet most people would agree with your categorizations (with possible exception of the individuals who are being categorized in the negative or neutral category). Most of us know who the super-stars and the bozos on the team are. Everybody else is a normal, productive team-member.

So the questions are easy to answer, but the result should be extremely accurate. I’m curious to know if you agree.

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