These 5 questions need credible answers in units of measure meanigful to the decision makers.
- Capabilities Based Planning starts with a Concept of Operations for each deliverable and the system as a whole. The ConOps describes how these capabilities will be used and what benefits will be produced as a result. This question is answered through Measures of Effectiveness (MOE) for each capability. MOEs are operational measures of success related to the achievement of the mission or operational objectives evaluated in an operational environment, under a specific set of conditions
- Technical and Operational requirements fulfill the needed capabilities. These requirements are assessed through their Measures of Performance (MOP), which characterize the physical or functional attributes relating the system operation, measured or estimated under specific conditions.
- The Integrated Master Plan and Integrated Master Schedule describes the increasing maturity of the project deliverables through Technical Performance Measures (TPM) to determine how well each deliverables and the resulting system elements satisfy or are expected to satisfy a technical requirement or goal in support of the MOEs and MOPs.
- Assessing progress to plan starts with Earned Value Management on a periodic basis. Physical Percent Complete is determine through adherence with the planned TPMs at the time of assessment and the adjustment of Earned Value (BCWP) to forecast future performance and the Estimate at Completion for cost and Estimated Completion Duration for the schedule.
- For each key planned deliverable and the work activities to produce it, Risks and their handling strategies are in place to adjust future performance assessment. Irreducible risks, such as duration and cost are handled with margin. Reducible risks are handled with risk retirement plans. Compliance with the risk buy down plan becomes a fifth assessment of progress to plan.
What Does All This Mean?
With these top level questions, many approaches are available, not matter what the domain or technology. But in the end if we don't have answers the probability of success will be reduced.
- If we don't have some idea of what DONE looks like in measures of effectiveness, then the project itself is in jeopardy from do one. The only way out is to pay money during the project to discover what DONE looks like. Agile does essentially this, but there are other ways. In all ways, knowing where we are going is mandatory. Exploring is the same as wandering around looking for a solution. If the customer is paying for this, the project is likely a R&D project. Even then the "D" part of R&D has a goal to discover something useful for those paying.
- When we separate capabilities based planning from requirements elicitation, we are freed up to be creative, emergent, agile, and maximize our investments. The technical and operational requirements can then be traced to the needed capabilities. This approach sets the stage for valiation of each requirement. Answering the question - why do we have this requirement? There is always mention of feature blot, this is an approach to test each requirement for its contirbution to the business or mission benefit of the project.
- The paradigm of Integrated Master Planning (IMP) provides the framework for assessing the increasing maturity of the project's deliverables. The IMP is the strategy for producing these deliverables along their path of increasing maturity to the final deliverables. Terms like preliminary, final, recviewed, accepted, installed, delivered, available, etc. are statements about the increasing maturity.
- Measuring physical percent complete, starts with the exit criteria for all packages of work on the project. This is a paradigm of agile, but more importantly it has always been the paradigm in defense and space domain. The foundation of this is Systems Engineering that is just starting to appear in enterprise IT projects.
- Risk Management is how adults manage projects - Tim Lister This says it all. Don't have a risk register, an assessment of the probability of occurrence, impacts, handling plans, residual risk and its impact - those risks are not going away. Each risk has to be monetized and their handling included in the budget.