How to create a scoring system to measure performance of Agile Project Manager
Measure of success
Working as a Project Manager I validate my success by results produced by my team – project delivered within a scope, a budget, and time. as all project pieces are tightly interlinked – It’s rather rare that I have enough time or budget to deliver initially specified scope, which means good planning and resource management is important. And the other way, proper scope management is a key to good planning.
As a PM I often ask myself three questions:
1) How do I know what went well in the last sprint?
2) What was the team satisfaction level?
3) What can I improve in the next sprint?
The easiest solution would be to gather some data, typically in form of a survey or calculate it using timesheets entries. There’s a catch though, most people don’t like Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) or similar metrics. We all understand the importance of data and value it can bring, however, the process of gathering it can be cumbersome. In our busy professional lives, we often wait until the last-minute, which can make the data collection process useless, resulting in additional negative feelings about KPIs.
At one of my last hackathons, I had a little bit of time to work on a side project. I decided to see what I can do to make data collection easier. I wanted to solve a problem of getting the value of measured performance and instant feedback while avoiding spending hours filling out some Excel spreadsheets.
I decided to create a survey to get better insights into my performance. Then I came up with the even better idea – How about building an app that could make it super easy and almost effortless? The only issue, I had a maximum of 4 days to build and test it before I could showcase it to the rest of team at the hackathon showdown.
After some research, I decided to use AppSheet. If you don’t know this platform I highly recommend you to check it out. AppSheet provides a very convenient way of building a mobile interface for other services like Smartsheet, Box.com or Office360. In addition, it integrates well with Google Sheets which is very important for people like me who use Android and Gmail account on a daily basis.
The Survey – What questions you should ask yourself as an Agile project manager?
I have created a simple google sheet with just a couple of questions highlighting important areas of my work:
1. Did we hold a Prioritization Session?
I am responsible for making this happen and facilitating it. In an agile environment, proper prioritization session is a key to working on the right thing at the right time.
2. Did we hold an Epic Grooming Session?
Epic grooming session is important to ensure the team understands the scope and can deliver on it.
3. Did we hold Team Story Grooming Sessions?
Although I am not a developer who can break feature requests into a user/developer stories, I need to ensure this happens at the right time so I can plan sprint as precisely as possible.
4. Were there Sprint Planning Sessions?
Importance of this meeting does not need any explanation as it crucial for the work progress.
5. Did overtime occur?
If there was no overtime, this is an indication if my planning and velocity measurement are right. If I constantly need to ask my team for overtime, I am not doing my job well in terms of planning and communicating timelines to all team members and stakeholders.
6. Clarity Rating
As a leader in the project, I need to ensure all team members know what to do, and when to do it. If they are blocked or they don’t know how to deliver on the agreed scope, it is my duty to unblock them and provide necessary clarifications. If I did my job well on Epic and Story Grooming sessions, everything should be clear, to begin with. As it is very subjective to rate the level of clarity, I decided to simplify it and limit possible answers to 3 grades: low, medium and high. I will answer this question purely based on my assumptions and not on an empirical data.
7. Total number of releases
We release code when it passes QA process. We never wait until the end of the sprint. This makes things flow faster and helps with our branching strategy. If the scope is broken down into small pieces that are easy to code, we simply do more releases. This is a good measure of how well I manage the tickets. We aim for two releases in a day, sometimes we do one, sometimes we do four. In a two week sprint, we can do a maximum of 40 releases.
The above list of questions is a great starting point but you can add additional questions based on your project specifics.
The Scoring System
I wanted this survey to result in a single score as an indicator of my performance. I decided to add numeric plus and minus points representing “Yes” and “No” answers. In addition, some of the answers ware graded higher based on their importance for the project execution.
Did we hold Prioritization session?
- “Yes” gives +10 points
- “No” gives -10 points
Did we hold the Sprint Planning sessions?
- “Yes” gives +10 points
- “No” gives -20 points
As you can see I’m putting a have a penalty for not doing my job. If I don’t conduct proper sprint planning sessions and I just roll over unfinished tickets from the previous sprint into the next one, then I effectively become the root cause of the problem for poor project management.
Building the App
The next step was to design a simple, clean UI to make it as easy as possible to get all the answers in the shortest amount of time. I wanted to see if I can fill this survey in under a minute. If I can, I will effectively remove the excuse for not gathering any data about my performance due to “a long and cumbersome process”. There’s simply no reason to avoid a single 1-minute task.
Fortunately, AppSheet doesn’t have too many options on how you can build UI which means I didn’t spend too much time fiddling with it. In addition, they offer simplistic big buttons template for Yes/No type questions.
The first draft looked like this:
Then I added a graph to shows the total score to indicate the rate of improvement over time. Consistent improvement is the key to success here. By tapping on the “Data” button I can review answers to the survey on specific dates. Please note that this all is test data to see if the app prototype works:
This Simple App has proven to me that evaluating my performance doesn’t need to be painful and cumbersome. It can be done quickly and provide value. What I really like about this app is how easy it is to collect data and visualize it to show me how well I am you doing.
In my opinion, AppSheet provides a compelling alternative to stand-alone, native apps, but only if you are happy to use provided templates, as it does not allow for much customization.
In overall this was a fun little side project and it helped to really evaluate myself as a PM. I’m now working on the more comprehensive version of this app.