Wednesday, August 20, 2008

What is 25% complete?

I'm working in a shared project management tool environment and recently saw the 'addition' of 4 new task/issue statues:
  • development 25% complete
  • development 50% complete
  • development 75% complete
  • development 100% complete
I understand the desire to 'understand' how far along the development effort is, but in my opinion - this is just another example of someone putting a number to something that they obviously don't really understand. What is 25% complete? what is complete? Who makes that determination? The use of completeness is an sure indication that the project is jeopardy of not being can I determine this? Any project manager or developer of any skill level, will not volunteer this type of information - so, it must have been put in place based on the customer's request to understand why the project is late or why they're not seeing any results. THIS brings us some insight into one of the prior questions: Who determines what complete is? The real answer is the customer - the person putting the $ on the table for the delivery. If that's the case then unless the task is 100% complete then it's not complete (the customer isn't going to say...gee my burger looks 25% complete)..there's the old story of a developer taking 2 days to get a task 99% complete and another year to get the final 1%...
Don't get yourself in the position of reporting something as 25% complete - understand what the customer is expecting as a delivery and ensure that you provide timely/accurate/meaningful updates. There's no such thing as always delivering on time...the dissatisfaction from the customer is usually in not understanding what is happening and not seeing any positive movement (a good PM needs to manage expectations).

1 comment:

  1. You're right when you look from a perspective of completing a project as a whole. However when you look from a perspective of completing a specific task you expect to get some estimates how long it'll take. If I give a developer longer task which can take about two weeks I want to know whether after a week we're about halfway there or in other words if the development is 50% complete (although I agree that's not precise term).

    Those kind of milestones don't tell you much of project completness but brings you other type of information.