Friday, July 2, 2010

Project Planning SP 1.2 - Task Attribute: Effort or Size?

Is it possible to establish estimates of work product and task attributes by means of task time estimates? Can the task effort be similar to the size of a task?

By going directly to task time estimates you have effectively skipped performing Project Planning Specific Practice 1.2. The intent of SP 1.2 is for you to perform some sort of basis of estimate for the project’s tasks and activities. This is a bottom-up approach. If you are not used to this approach, it can be a struggle at first to take a step backwards from task time estimates and really understand the underlying assumptions that people are making in their heads about the factors that are driving the task time estimates. Some very basic task attributes include estimating the number of pages in a document that is being produced or updated, the number of technical drawings being produced or updated for a hardware item, the number of new or modified interfaces, the number of new or modified screens , etc. Then based on your historical data from previous projects, it is possible for you to empirically determine a set of productivity factors that will convert these sizing parameters into effort and arrive at the task time estimates. The bottom line is effort of a task is not the same as the size of a task.

Do you think this practice would be Fully, Largely, Partially or Not Implemented? Would this be this a problem in a SCAMPI A appraisal? What do you think about that?

Taking this example out of context with everything else your organization is doing makes this a difficult question to answer. The appraisal team is the only group that would be qualified to make that judgment based on documented evidence and the interviews. However, as a Lead Appraiser, I would have to say that you have a problem that needs to be addressed before you conduct a SCAMPI. The SCAMPI rules state that if a Process Area is in the scope of the appraisal, then all of its Specific and Generic practices are applicable. And if you are not performing a practice, which may or may not be the case, then there could be issues in Project Planning that impact Goal Satisfaction and result in a Maturity Level 1 rating.

To provide you the best answer, you should be talking to your Lead Appraiser and have him or her give you the proper guidance on this issue. As a risk mitigation, I would recommend that you put a process in place to estimate sizing parameters that are then used to calculate effort. Your estimators are already doing this, but it sounds like they are doing it in their heads. You just have to break the process down into smaller steps to allow the sizing estimates to be captured first. There is benefit to doing this.

No comments: