Monday, July 13, 2015

Kill the planned vs actual data tracking at the individual level

When we try to fit in agile project management in environments created for traditional project management, some of the metrics must be either modified or abandaoned. The first one is the planned Vs actual effort metrics, which is used to measure the productivity of the team / members. Here the inherrent assumption is estimates are right, and the actual effort must be within the planned effort. Agile estimation comes from the premises that all estimates are wrong, so do not spend too much time to have accurate estimates. Agile promotes some amount of risk taking while encouraging to start with abstract estimates which gets refined as the sprints advances. Team members are encouraged to revise the balance effort required to complete the task at hand, on a daily basis. By bringing in unwritten conventions like the actual effort must be within the planned effort, the risk taking, and the self organizing qualities of self organizing teams will be curtailed. Ability to revise the balance effort based on the actual hands on experience on the task is the hallmark of empowered, self organizing teams which thrives on work volunteering. If one has to get the agile teaming right, the planned vs actual data can be collected, for analysis puposes alone, and must not be used for performance evaluation of the team members. In one organization I worked, time accounting systems were in place, and the managers did not have access to the individuals data, they could see only aggregated data at the team level. If agile has to thrive, organizations must not use the planned Vs actual effort data for tracking individual team member performance as it contradicts with;

Promotion of abstract estimates in agile teams
Promotion of eight hour working days, for maintaining sustained productivity
Promotion of risk taking
Promotion of work volunteering of work, estimated by someone else
The basic forward looking nature of the agile models.

Will blog about the other metrics that needs correction in my subsequent posts.

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