I was in a bookstore over the weekend and saw of copy of Identifying and Managing Project Risk by Tom Kendrick from HP. The book was published last year but I know of his work on project risk metrics from an earlier whitepaper that really showed how to get a handle on measuring and managing project risks.
Here are some examples of predictive risk metrics which serve as a distant early warning system for project difficulties.
Project size/scale risk
- Project duration (elapsed calendar time)
- Total effort (sum of all activity effort estimates)
- Total cost (budget at completion)
- Size-based deliverable analysis (component counts, number of major deliverables, lines of non-commented code, blocks on system diagrams)
- Staff size (full-time equivalent and/or total individuals)
- Number of planned activities
- Total length (sum of all activity durations if executed sequentially)
- Logical length (maximum number of activities on a single network path)
- Logical width (maximum number of parallel paths)
- Activity duration estimates compared with worst-case duration estimates
- Number of critical (or near-critical) paths in project network
- Logical project complexity (the ratio of activity dependencies to activities)
- Maximum number of predecessors for any milestone
- Total number of external predecessor dependencies
- Project independence (ratio of internal dependencies to all dependencies)
- Total float (sum of total project activity float)
- Project density (ratio of total length to total length plus total float)
- Number of identified risks
- Quantitative (and qualitative) risk assessments (severity analysis)
- Adjusted total effort (project appraisal: comparing baseline plan with completed similar projects, adjusting for significant differences)
- Survey-based risk assessment (summarized risk data collected from
project staff, using selected assessment questions)
- Aggregated overall schedule risk (or aggregated worst-case duration estimates)
- Aggregated resource risk (or aggregated worst-case cost estimates)
And the last example, the Dilbert Correlation Factor: collect 30 recent Dilbert cartoons and circulate to staff. Have people mark each one that reminds them of your organization. If the team average is
- under 10: Low organization risk.
- 10-20: Time for some process improvement.
- Over 20: Hire a cartoonist and make your fortune….)