What a “good decision” is? First, know Albert Einstein’s famous quote ‘If I had one hour to solve a problem, I’d spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and 5 minutes thinking of the solutions’? Second, base your decisions on comprehensive data, not just on sentiments and feelings. BigPicture provides up-to-date, visualized, and aggregated portfolio and project data. What views to look at when making your decisions?
Following are the common questions project managers face and decisions they have to make (moving from the planning stage to the execution stage).
The most efficient method to assess whether a BigPicture plan is feasible or not is to:
The resulting visual plan is more likely to succeed than trying to guess, out of the blue, whether a product or project is viable or not.
What if the resulting visual plan proves not viable? Use What-if scenarios – note the ‘Create new scenario’ submenu evident in figure 2. Reschedule phases and tasks and evaluate variants of the plan. Once you have the optimal variant of the plan, commit it to the production timeline.
Figure 2. A tree-like work breakdown structure plus a schedule on the timeline will help you assess whether a plan is viable. Agile environments would rather use a timebox Board module, as seen in figure 3.
Figure 3. BigPicture Board module can signal an unrealistic plan, too. Note the red exclamation marks in overallocated Craftsman and Tools4you teams.
Telling whether the scope is too wide is another decision point, especially when you are expected to deliver by some future date. Let’s suppose you have a team of 10 available, with the capacity of 140 story points, and the product is to hit the market in 6 months. Which BigPicture view to use to decide whether you need to descope a project/feature or not?
The Scope module is your best bet. Here, we added the ‘Story points’ (with Sum function applied) and ‘Affects versions’ columns to the view. The product was scoped beforehand. The 200 story points (58 + 19 + 57 + 66) are way above the available capacity of 140 sp, so version 1 of the product needs to be descoped.
Figure 4. The spreadsheet-like Scope module of BigPicture should help decide whether to descope your project or product.
On the flip side of the Gantt chart (figure 2) is the Resources module. As a rule of thumb, the red bars mean overallocation, orange ones – proper allocation, and green ones – underallocation of resources. Note, how the module can operate in three different modes – Original estimate, Remaining estimate (popular), and Story Points. Also, note the hideable Skills pane at the bottom. It uses red, orange, and green bars, too. In the example below, the House Owner role and Team Construction are overloaded in some weeks (red bars).
Figure 5. The Resources module in BigPicture will supply precise data on whether your project is high/low on resources and skills. Gantt module has a simplified resources panel, too.
Base your staffing and HR activities on the data coming from the Resources module.
Let’s move on to the execution phase. The Reports module, as well as countless progress bars and To do/In progress/Done task counters, help track progress in BigPicture – at portfolio, project, ART, Program increment, iteration levels, etc.
The data available here will provide a basis for short-, medium-, and long-term business decisions. Both project and product management are doable in BigPicture.
Figure 6. Progress tracking features are ubiquitous in BigPicture. Pictured is a combination of Reports, Overview, and Gantt modules.
The following BigPicture features will further improve the quality of your decisions. Not a BigPicture user yet? Check if your current project management software has the following:
Author: Marcin Gebicz
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