Unusual Subroutines

The blog and musings of Christopher Allen-Poole

Proposed Metrics

One of the biggest problems that projects have is in feedback. Everyone in the project has a duty to tell others, and especially the team lead and the PM, if there are any concerns, but most of the time people don't. There are a few reasons for this, but in general people don't like being the one to give bad news. I'd like to find a way to go about avoiding that problem.

I came up with a basic survey and I'd like it included in my future projects. The goal would be to have it filled out by everyone on the project at the start of a new sprint. This would mean that the PM would be able to get a pulse easily. I think it would also allow people to hint that there might be bad news without having to be the one to come out and say it.

Here are the questions. There are only three because it really should be short and to the point. If someone takes more than 5 minutes to answer these then that is way too long. Each one is a one to five choice. 1 means "strongly disagree" and 5 means "strongly agree".

  • We are more likely to meet our deadline because of this last sprint.
  • This last sprint went better than I expected.
  • I understood my tasks in this last sprint.

I admit, these are just a draft, but all three questions seem important. The first will help us know if someone thinks that something happened which will make the project fall behind. The second tells us how the project has felt to the person taking the survey. The third tells us that the person knew what the requirements meant.

An alternate three might be:

  • I think this next sprint will cause us to get ahead of schedule.
  • I think that this sprint will go well.
  • I understand my tasks in this sprint and I know steps that I can take to start on them.

But I'm not sure I like thinking about these things in "the future tense". Estimates are very hard to get right, so making a guess about emotions is not a good idea. They are two very different ideas, too: "did it rain yesterday" is very different from "will it rain today".

Like all surveys, this will only work with larger amounts of data, so it might not work for a one-person project or a project that only has two sprints. It also requires that people are honest and that someone can make them follow the practice. But if you can get buy-in from your team, then this can be put together quickly and easily. You'll be able to see data and bring up problems faster.

It also means you'll start seeing emerging trends which might not be seen directly at first. It's easy for someone to say, "well, I just had a bad sprint but I won't complain". There could be five people with that exact same thought and no one would know. This survey, however, can bring that up faster.

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