- Stoplights are not progressive. Project stoplights typically have only three indications of status. They can't show a range of progressive tolerance, trends or rates of change. For example, a yellow stoplight can be overly optimistic if the value for that stoplight is just shy of the range for red.
- Stoplight bands mean different things to different measurements. Stoplights break down into bands of tolerance ranges. For example, zero to 5 percent variance would be green, 5 to 10 percent variance would be yellow and above 10 percent would be red. The problem is, project measurement indicators might not follow a common range. For example, how realistic is it to measure customer satisfaction with the same band as test case validation? While test case validation might make sense at 7 percent, it would be discouraging if just 7 percent of your customers were happy with your project.
- Stoplights can be "gamed." A major vulnerability of project stoplights is that they can be manipulated by project managers and sponsors when either wants to defer an unfavorable status. Despite the actual value of the project measurement, the project manager or sponsor will leave the stoplight to a green (favorable) value. This "gaming" of project stoplights usually precedes the inevitable -- rapid acceleration of stoplights to a red (danger) value when hidden details are discovered.
Three Reasons to Dim Project Stoplights
I agree with your thoughts and feel multiple levels of project health provide a better pictures, just like cash flow, income statement, and balance sheet combine for a picture so to can Earned Value Management, financials, and some dashboard combine for a better picture of health.
Putting the range and the assumptions with a red, yellow, green helps and reminds people in status briefings what the quality range means.
Scatter plot is a new thought. Thank you.
|Arjuna Rao Chavala|
Touching on the "stoplight gaming" problem, I think it's more complex than a project manager or sponsor not wanting to share an unfavorable measurement.
I've been on projects where a stoplight has been gamed because the consumers of the stoplight would have demanded an immediate crisis response to a red stoplight. In the course of the "stop everything and respond" nature of the demand, I've witnessed further delays to important team tasks. Spending the time and resources to respond to the red stoplight sometimes made things on the project even worse than the single unfavorable measurement, and frequently added work to managers and team leaders that did not assist in the resolution.
In short, publishing a yellow or red stoplight is important information. To reduce the temptation to report more favorably, it would help if the project communications plan contains the agreed process for "dealing" with an unfavorable measurement. As in, what can be requested and in what timeframe, to avoid fire drills and work that does not help to solve the problem.
(On twitter @Becky_SAP)
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