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Project Teams benefit from having shared goals and shared metrics of success. They need to all have the same understanding of where the "finish line" is in the project race. Individual functional area success does not always correlate with overall project success. Project status reports may state where a project is with respect to its deadlines, but they often overlook the more critical aspect: where is the project in relationship to its goals -- the reasons for doing the project in the first place? This overall project scorecard provides a high-level view of the project's status in relation to overall project or product development success criteria, both during development, and after final release. It includes a prioritized list of the metrics of success, minimum "Go/NoGo" criteria for the project being worth doing, and a "Red/Yellow/Green" status indication that enables "at a glance" status reviews throughout the project. In addition, it encourages a long-term perspective on the definition of success by encouraging the team to think about when the various metrics of success will be measurable and/or measured. Periodically sharing this one page "dashboard" with the team, executives and other stakeholders can assure that everyone has the same understanding of project status throughout the project, and provide early warnings of problems by catalyzing conversations about what could be a problem in the future even though it can't easily be measured today. If you can at least imagine how you WOULD measure it, you'll reduce ambiguity and misunderstandings about the goals, and increase your chances of success.
How to Use It - Expect resistance from people who don't feel comfortable guessing or discussing metrics!
1Review the project scorecard example on the next worksheet as an example. The example illustrates what a completed scorecard might look like for a project partway through its development phase, but before the status has been updated. The sample project used is anticipating serious problems with product availability, and there may be concerns about meeting the goals for revenue, ROI, and overall impact on company success. Notice, however, that the top 3 prioritized goals -- Quality, Functionality, and Schedule -- are all classified green; in spite of the issues, the project is still meeting its most important major goals. Once you've oriented yourself to what good and bad projects would look like, use the Blank Scorecard on the last worksheet to build a scorecard for your own project.
2Describe your development success criteria or high-level project goals in Column C. Your categories may be different. And people will certainly resist defining success metrics that they believe will be difficult or impossible to measure. It's important to remember that the CONVERSATIONS about exatly WHAT success is and the MEASURES of that success are more valuable than the actual finished scorecard.
3List the Target and Minimum Acceptance Limit for each goal area in Columns E and D respectively. You should have a clear and measurable goal (target) for each major area listed, and each listed success criteria should have buy in from team members as well as from the project sponsor and concerned executives. Goals that aren't supported won't be met. Remember, the minimums you set in this column mean that you are willing to CANCEL the project if your team cannot achieve at least the minimum. This is your GO/NoGO criteria.
4Use Column A to indicate at least the 3 or 4 most important criteria for this project, in order. Prioritize ruthlessly, choosing between heart, lung, and kidneys if necessary, and do not rank any more than 4 criteria. These priorities will help you determine where, or if, to concentrate your effort when the project slips from one of the targets. When tough trade off decisions must be made, team members should refer to these priorities and make decisions in alignment with them. Again, the conversations with various stakeholders around setting the relative priorities of the various requirements are far more valuable than the ranking. Don't just fill it out to save your team time!
5Periodically review each success criteria with the team and key stakeholders and agree on a Red/Yellow/Green status based on the current situation vs. the targets. This assessment is somewhat subjective, so try to find a consistent way to make the judgment. For instance, green may be on or ahead of targets, yellow may be behind by 10% or more, red off target by 30% or more. Ideally, these thresholds should be consistent from project to project and department to department. Differences in opinions among various stakeholders on status are the most interesting. Remember that, prior to the Space Shuttle Challenger explosion, space shuttle engine failure likelihood was estimated by engineers to be 1 in 200 while execs estimated the likelihood at 1 in 100,000.
6 If corrective action is necessary to bring a goal back to Green status, record the Action Items and the Owners in the appropriate columns. These are the high priority actions that must be taken in order to get the project back on track. Clear accountability by the owners as well as follow up to track status and progress are important here, of course.
7Review the scorecard periodically throughout the project to ensure that all stakeholders have a shared understanding of the status of areas key to success and that corrective action is taken immediately in the event that a key area is off track.
Copyright Scrappy Kimberly Wiefling of Wiefling Consulting, Inc.
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