- WPM Overview
- How WPM Works
- Using the Easy WPM Workbook
- Applying WPM to Agile Projects
- Applying WPM to Distributed Projects
- Using WPM to augment CPM predictions
Published Papers & Presentations
- Schedule Control in Agile and Distributed Projects
- Work Performance Management - Predicting Completion
- Assessing Delays in Agile and Distributed Projects
- Useful External Web-links & Resources.
Other related sections of the PMKI:
WPM is a methodology that has been developed by Mosaic Project Services Pty Ltd to offer a simple, robust solution to the challenges of providing rigorous project controls information on projects that cannot (or are not) using the more traditional controls paradigms of critical path scheduling (CPM) and/or earned value management (EVM).
WPM has two primary functions, calculating the schedule
variance at the update date, and predicting the likely
schedule completion date and variance at completion (VAC),
assuming the average production achieved to date continues
through to the end of the project. The basis of the
calculations are similar to Earned Schedule and Earned
Duration, but applied using a simple spreadsheet. The only
requirements needed to implement WPM are:
• A consistent metric to measure the work planned and accomplished, and
• A simple but robust assessment of when the work was planned to be done.
Art: Overview of WPM. Explains in more detail the theoretical basis of the Work Performance Management approach, and the simple framework needed to set up and use WPM on a project.
Because of its simple, robust, and defensible design, WPM
can be used on any type of project including:
- Any project using an Agile or adaptive development methodology
- Traditional projects that are not using, or are not suited to, CPM, and.
- To enhance the predictive capabilities of project using a CPM schedule.
The development of WPM means there is no longer any excuse for a project team, senior management and/or the organization's governing body ‘not to know’ how the work of each project is progressing.
WPM works by setting an expected rate of working using an appropriate metric, then measuring the actual work achieved to date. Based on this data, WPM can assess how far ahead or behind plan the work currently is, and use this information to calculate the likely project completion date and VAC assuming work will continue at the current rate.
WPM works by comparing the amount of work achieved to
date with the amount that was planned to be achieved. The
basis of calculations used in WPM are the same as is used
in Earned Schedule (ES) , and therefore, a similar level
of usefulness and accuracy is expected from WPM. However,
compared to ES, WPM is much simpler to set up and use. The
only two requirements to implement WPM are:
• A consistent metric to measure the work planned and accomplished, and
• A simple but robust assessment of when the work was planned to be done.
Art: How WPM Works. Explains in more detail the processes and calculations used in WPM and that by plotting the trends for both the current variance (WV) and VAC management know how the project is tracking overall. This information is invaluable in Agile and other projects where CPM schedules are not used, ans even where a project has a good CPM schedule in place this additional information is useful.
For more details on how the WPM spreadsheet works: Download the Easy WPM Workbook instructions for its use.
The Easy WPM Workbook, is a practical spreadsheet that performs the calculations needed to implement Work Performance Management (WPM) on projects. It is recommended for use on Agile and Distributed projects, as well as straightforward engineering projects up to $20 million and other projects up to $10 million. WPM calculates both the current status, and the projected completion date, by comparing the work accomplished to the work planned:
To see how WPM works in practice, download the free WPM sample files. This Zip folder contains three example projects with a brief description of each and instructions on how to use the spreadsheets. The samples are:
1. A small asset replacement project (Telstra Pit Replacement)
2. A 20-week software development project using two scrum teams
3. Construction of a new $15 million railway bridge
For more details on these sample projects see the: Easy WPM Sample Outline.
Note: The project set-up fields are locked in these samples.
For more details on how the Easy WPM Workbook is set up: Download the instructions for its use.
Agile and other 'soft' projects are those where the final result is not defined by the creation of a tangible asset. There may be some tangible deliverables produced, but the value generated by the project is in the new capability, concept, or situation that is created. For example, a new architectural design may be printed onto paper but the value is the design concept (which enables a new structure to be built), not the physical plans.
The concept of a soft project extends well beyond software development to encompass projects focused on change management, business process improvement, service delivery, and design development. Any project that is set up to deliver an intangible benefit, and involves a degree of creativity and/or stakeholder engagement as part of the development process can be considered soft. But soft does not mean easy to do, or manage!
The key characteristic of a soft project is that the final solution can take many forms – different project teams will create acceptable outcomes using quite different techniques and solutions. Because of their nature, soft projects benefit from using a flexible approach to manage work that adapts to the emerging knowledge and needs of the project team and their stakeholders. This flexibility may include agile, iterative, and/or incremental approaches to the creation of the desired deliverable or outcome.
These days, Agile is the management approach of choice for most soft projects. There are many different forms of agile involving different tools and techniques such as Scrum, SAFe®, DA, and Kanban. However, across all of these different methodologies, the essence of agile remains – intelligent flexibility; the people doing the work choose what to work on next and scope changes are welcome as long as implementing the change increases the overall value of the deliverables to the project stakeholders.
The core elements of an agile approach are the project team and stakeholders develop a backlog of work to be done to achieve the desired objective, and then at regular intervals the project team select the items to do next from the list. The underlying assumption is a committed and skilled team actively involved in the work are the best people to decide what should be done next, and the best way to do it. Click through to see more on Agile approaches to development.
WPM works within this paradigm to assess progress and predict completion based on comparing the work achieved to the work planned to be achieved up to a point in time.
Distributed projects are defined as traditional construction or engineering projects that have a significant degree of flexibility in the way the work can be performed. Usually, there is some degree of overarching constraint – there is a required overall sequence of working, but there is also a significant degree of flexibility in the way the detailed work can be performed. While there may be sensible or desirable sequences of work at the detail level, these can be changed relatively easily.
This type of project is surprisingly common and exist on
a spectrum ranging from projects where there really are no
practical constraints on the sequence of working (but you
still need to set up the project and close out the project
on completion), through to projects where there are
significant overall constraints, but there is still
flexibility in how the short-term detailed work is
WPM works within this paradigm to assess progress and predict completion based on comparing the quantity work achieved to the quantity of work planned to be achieved up to a point in time.
We all know (or should know) that when a project is running late, the predicted completion date calculated by the ‘critical path method’ (CPM) at an update tends to be optimistic, and this bias remains true for predictions based on simple time analysis as well as schedule calculations made using resource leveling.
There are two primary reasons for this:
1. The assumption in CPM is that all future work will occur exactly as planned regardless of performance to date. The planned durations of future activities do not change.
2. The burning of float has no effect of the calculated completion date until after the float is 100% consumed and the activity become critical.
For more on this issue see Why Critical Path Scheduling is Wildly Optimistic!
Having an optimistic schedule for the motivation of resources to perform in not all bad – the updated CPM schedule shows the minimum level of performance needed to stop the situation deteriorating. The problem is more senior managers also need a reliable prediction of when the project can realistically be expected to finish and CPM cannot provide this. A more realistic / pessimistic view is obtained by apply the principles of Work Performance Management (WPM) to a CPM schedule, using ‘activity days’ taken from the CPM schedule as the metric.
These papers and presentations look at using WPM to provide schedule control, manage the work, and claim delays in Class 3 (Agile and Distributed) projects. The classification structure is defined in Scheduling Challenges in Agile & Distributed Projects (pages 5 & 6). WPM aids the overall management of this type of project by calculating the current status (ahead or behind plan), and predict the likely project completion date, based on the amount of work accomplished compared to the original plan. See more on how WPM works.
Class 3 projects are not well supported by either traditional CPM scheduling, ‘line of balance’, or other traditional project controls paradigms. The challenge is compounded by the fact that some projects are suited to the underlying principle in CPM which assumes there is one best way to plan and deliver the works, others have no preset requirements for the work sequence and others have some level of mandated logical sequence that affects some parts of the work, but not others.
The primary consideration in planning and managing this type of project is optimizing resource flows. The consequences of re-sequencing if needed are not based around traditional CPM logic, rather an assessment of the loss in resource efficiency which is much more difficult to assess and measure. This is particularly true when you need to separate productive efficiencies under the control of the contractor from disruption caused by the re-sequencing, see: Assessing Delays in Agile and Distributed Projects.
The webinar below (58 minutes) outlines the challenges and issues that led to the development of WPM:
Or view the presentation as a PDF: Prs:
Controlling Projects Without a Critical Path.
Scheduling Challenges in Agile & Distributed
Projects. The focus of this paper is to define
the challenge and look at practical options for managing
work efficiently in a wide range of projects where the CPM
paradigm does not apply. Including those using various
agile and lean approaches, other soft projects, and
distributed projects. The paper:
• Briefly defines the management assumptions that support the use of CPM scheduling, its origins,
• Develops a classification framework of project characteristics to help define the potential usefulness of
CPM scheduling across different project types
• Briefly describes some of the management approaches currently used in non-CPM projects including
agile and lean, their benefits and limitations
• Considers the application of the framework discussed above applied to a typical wind farm project, and
• Develops general recommendations for the management of non-CPM projects focused on optimizing
the efficient use of resources in agile (soft) projects and distributed projects.
There may be a high level ‘road map’ outlining the
desired route to completion and/or specific constraints on
parts of the work in both soft and distributed projects,
but there remains a lot of flexibility in the way the work
is accomplished. And, in many cases there is a deliberate
management intent not to follow a predetermined sequence
of activities defined in a CPM schedule! The focus of this
paper is to define the challenge and look at practical
options for managing the work efficiently.
Download the original PMWJ version of this paper.
Prs: Controlling agile and distributed projects A new Paradigm for Success. This presentation defines the characteristics of projects that are not suited to CPM, including agile, adaptive, and distributed projects and describes an approach for managing this type of project based on agile and lean, while recognizing there are likely to be some mandatory sequences that must be followed. It suggests a rigorous framework using WPM for identifying progress and predicting the project completion date based on the quantity of work achieved compared to the quantity planned to be accomplished.
PP: Calculating Completion. Tools used for assessing status, and predicting the completion of projects include: Bar Charts, Burndown Charts, Kanban Boards, Velocity, CPM, EVM + ES, and Work Performance Management (WPM). This paper considers each of these options against a highly simplified project, with a focus on the subjective and objective information available from each tool and how they compare.
Predicting Completion in Agile & Distributed
Projects. The focus of this paper is to offer
a practical solution to the challenge of assessing
progress and the likely completion date in agile and
distributed projects where the traditional concept of a
‘critical path’ simply does not exist. The paper describes
the current application of EVM and ES to this type of
project. It then introduces the concept of Work
Performance Management (WPM) as a robust and practical
alternative for determining the current status and the
predicted completion date for projects that are not using
EVM, and are not suited to the CPM paradigm. The
theoretical underpinnings of WPM are identified together
with the concept of ‘work units’ and the basis of the WPM
Download the original PMWJ article.
Completion, a Governance Requirement.
Governance has three basic functions:
1. Designing the organization’s culture, ethics, and objectives to provide the best outcome for its stakeholders.
2. Building a management team that is capable of achieving the objectives.
3. Requiring assurance and feedback from management that they are delivering the intended outcomes.
Within this framework, organizations need to know when their projects are expected to finish!Not knowing is not an option! This presentation looks at the challenges of assessing status and predicting completion when CPM is ineffective and how WPM can solve the challenge. For more on the governance challenges of 'not knowing' see: Organizational Governance and Project Controls.
Prs: Baked In Optimism – Why so many projects fail. This presentation looks at two processes that are ‘baked into’ standard project management estimating and control to show how recommended good practices are still optimistically biased. When preparing an estimate good practice recommends using Monte Carlo to determine an appropriate contingency and the level of risk to accept, but the typical range distributions used are biased – they ignore the ‘long tail’. When reporting progress, the estimating bias should be identified and rectified to offer a realistic projection of a project outcome. Standard cost and schedule processes typically fail to adequately deal with this challenge meaning the final time and cost overruns are not predicted until late in the project. This presentation highlights some of the causes for these problems - View the webinar on our Risk Assessment Page.
This section looks at new ways to assess delay and disruption. The internationally recognized approaches to assessing delay and disruption are based on the premise there is a well-developed critical path schedule that defines the way the work of the project will be accomplished. Critical path theory assumes there is one best sequence of activities, that have to be completed in a predefined order to deliver a project successfully. Therefore, events that delay or disrupt activities in the schedule can be modeled, their effect assessed, and responsibility for the assessed delay assigned to the appropriate party.
PP: Assessing Delays in Agile & Distributed Projects. The focus of this paper is to offer a practical solution to the challenge of assessing delay and disruption in agile and distributed projects where the traditional concept of a ‘critical path’ simply does not exist and the effect of intervening events has to be considered in terms of loss of resource efficiency.
Blg: Costain vs Haswell Revisited. Is one of the first judgements to identify the challenge of assessing delay on a 'distributed project'.
Click through for more on Forensic Schedule Analysis.
closely aligned with the concepts developed in: