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Visualizing Projects: Measure the Right Things to Get the Right Behaviors

project management

Mark Woeppel - February 25, 2014

There is constant tension among project team members when their individual or functional objectives are not in alignment with the project’s objectives (i.e., maximizing resource efficiency is not the same as increasing project velocity). Famed management guru Eli Goldratt once said, “Show me how you measure me, I’ll show how to behave.” His point: metrics shape behavior, therefore it’s important take care to identify the behaviors you want before you choose your metrics.

Visualizing your process helps you:
• Identify the behaviors you want to influence.
• Identify the systemic conflicts among team members/functions
• Gather the data you need to calculate your metrics.
• Follow the progress of your initiative: are you achieving the consequences you intended?

One board, many success stories
GZ3 (1)

In the figure above, one client board became the source of five easily compiled metrics that quickly measured velocity, escalation and prioritization. Want to know if projects are finishing more quickly? Just count the cards in the last process column and compare the results by day (or week or whatever) to get an account of the trend. Need to see if your team is improving their ability to intercept problems? Track the volume of yellow and red tags. Without resorting to complex spreadsheets or calculations, the client was able to measure real progress in real time.

It’s time to see for yourself…

Take a look at your own projects. Can you see what, where and how you can improve your processes to achieve greater efficiencies? Consider the following questions:
• Have you neglected simple execution steps in favor of complex planning?
• Is process compliance your objective rather than project progress?
• Is your team exhausted by too many meetings?
• Have you defined all your process handoff steps, one by one?
• Can you find the “secret” process steps that have been left unmanaged?
• Do you, and the rest of your team, struggle to identify what the real priorities are – or should be?
• Do you have a simple way of seeing the status of your entire project, beginning to end?
• Do your team members have easy opportunities for meaningful collaboration?
• Are your resources constantly multitasking?
• Are you often re-sorting and re-prioritizing your work in progress?
• Do you find that many project tasks are stuck in the system waiting for completion?
• Do you find that your team is constantly engaged in battles for resources?
• That you can’t get attention from functional or support teams on critical project tasks?

Every “yes” answer represents an opportunity for improvement.

This is the end of our newest ebook, Visualizing Projects. Do you want to learn more? Download the full ebook here.

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