Many times I hear about Cost of Delay, Deliver Value, Measure story points, or Measure Stories. And a myriad of other assessments of project performance, all of which - OK, most of which are examples of Open Loop Control.
Back in 2014, we had a paper in a publication of the College of Performance Management, starting on Page 17. As well, a colleague Nick Pisano (CDR US Navy Retired) has a post on the same topic at his blog.
The notion of a baseline let alone a Performance Measurement Baseline is at the heart of Closed Loop Control of all processes, from your heating and air conditioning system in your house, to the flight controls on the 737-700 winging its way back home to Denver, to the project you're working - using what ever project management method or software development method of your choosing.
The notion that we can manage anything, the temperature of the room, the nice soft ride in the 737, or the probability of showing up on or before the need date, at or below the needed cost, with the needed capabilities - and NOT have a baseline to steer to is simply wrong.
Below is the framework for Closed Loop control. This paradigm says simply:
- State where we are going in units of time, cost, and technical performance:
- I need this set of features (Capabilities) to be available for use by the customer on or before this date, with some confidence level, for some cost - again with a confidence level.
- With these features - provided on a planned date, for a planned cost - I can then assess the progress toward that planned date, planned cost, and planned capabilities.
- With the Planned data and the assessment of the actual data - cost, schedule, and technical performance:
- Technical Performance is actually not enough
- Measures of Effectiveness are needed
- Measures of Performance as well
- And other ...ilities of the outcomes - reliability, maintainability, serviceability, stability, etc.
- Then with these measures we can generate an error signal - between planned to date and actual to date - to determine several critical things - without which we're flying Open Loop.
- Given our Performance to Date and the Planned Performance at this point, how far behind are we, how over budget are we, how close are we to getting this gadget to work as needed?
- With this data, we can then make a decision.
- Making those decision means
- ESTIMATING both the to be target - where should we be at this point in the project for cost, schedule and technical performance. And where should we be to close the gaps between our target and the actual progress to date.
- ESTIMATING what cost, effort, changes in technical direction are needed to close those gaps.
ESTIMATING IS THE BASIS OF DECISION MAKING - it can't be any clearer than that.