One of the primary tenets of project management is to effectively communicate project progress and status to stakeholders and business leadership. As a project manager working on large enterprise IT projects, one tool I find especially useful for delivering this information is the velocity chart T2 Tech Group developed for our reporting. To explain the workings behind the tool, this blog entry is the first of two to help others understand the process for creating a smarter velocity chart.
For those unfamiliar, a velocity chart is simply a visual representation of the work delivered in a project and the pace at which the work is accomplished. T2 Tech Group’s team of IT project managers and engineers recognized how powerful this tool could be for the needs of IT infrastructure and application implementation projects. We then used the Agile concept of velocity to develop a chart that best portrays project metrics for our clients. Our version displays velocity measured off the critical mass of a project’s deliverables calculated from point values assigned to those deliverables. The outcome is a singular graphic that quickly communicates scope change, forecast dates of completion, and the team’s progress as it relates to the project plan.
We build out a chart from the components explained below:
Original Scope: This is the total project weight of all deliverables identified at beginning of the project.
Original Forecast: This is the total effort points forecast to be earned, as reflected by completed deliverables, at the end of each iteration based on the backlog and project plan.
Current Scope: This is the current total project weight of all deliverables, including scope changes. This value is updated at the end of each iteration, as scope may increase or decrease during that time.
Current Forecast: This is the current forecast based on factors such as changes in project scope or decreases/increases in productivity. This value should always be equal to the Completed value for all completed iterations.
Completed: This is the total effort points earned at the end of each iteration, as reflected by the sum of points values for completed deliverables.
With project data entered, this information can be visually represented in a velocity chart like this one above. This graph expresses a wealth of information to stakeholders as to the progress of the project. For example, the above chart depicts the following:
- The scope has increased twice in the project
- The original scope was forecast to be complete by December 8
- Completed work met or exceeded the original forecast in each iteration
- Completion of the original scope was achieved one iteration earlier than originally forecast
- It forecasts being complete with the current scope by January 19
As a project manager, one of my goals is to provide valuable information in a clear and concise manner. Although the number of tools and project management software on the marketplace seem to be ever increasing, few tools can match the simple yet effective capabilities of T2 Tech Group’s velocity chart. The greatest benefit of our velocity chart is it provides a high degree of visibility to the project team and stakeholders without including extraneous details or requiring a time-consuming narrative.
Please look out for my next entry wherein I delve into the details of how to create a velocity chart.