For many years already, the Standish Group describes in their Chaos report about the number of successful and less successful projects. How many projects are delivered On Time, On Budget and On Scope?
Many organizations are using these cpi’s as early warning indicators using RAG (Red, Amber, Green) to express if, e.g. the planning is at risk. Green when everything is running smoothly, Amber when the governance body, the project board, needs to know that problems are encountered but the project manager has options to solve, and Red when the project is off track and the project board has to make a decision. Because it’s an early warning indicator the indicator will switch from amber or red to green when the issue has been solved or a decision has been taken.
On a periodic basis many organizations look at their portfolio and calculate how many projects are at risk and use this information in their performance management systems to show how well they are performing.
Figure 1: Portfolio progress
If you look at figure 1, I could imagine a manager to say “we are doing pretty well with our projects, of course we do have our problems but on average between 10 and 20% of our projects have issues.” Does this sound familiar? In this example there are only two projects that report Amber in the last month, but what does this say? Are we really in control on all the projects? Let’s have a closer look. For initiative a we had some problems in July and as a consequence the end date was postponed. Initiative b is really a project at risk with several problems and the end date was moved more than once. Only initiative c will deliver at the original end date and I has been delivered at the original end date. Thus the manager had to say: “we really have problems with the delivery of our projects, only around 20% of our projects will be delivered On Time.” So if you report on your project portfolio progress it’s good to use the OTOBOS indicators but use the information from the original project portfolio plan as your baseline, and use e.g. changed end dates, to calculate how many of the projects in the portfolio are successful or not.
This post will be used in a new book MoP practices in practice, for portfolio managers who want to embed the MoP theory in their organization. In the coming months several blog posts and articles will be published waiting for your feedback. To see all, select the tag MoP_practices_in_practice.