|meeting the schedule.|
|Rainy||To meet the schedule would take great difficulty.|
|Severe||The schedule cannot be met in any situation.|
A sample list of criteria for a weather report. Provided by Rodney Thompson.
Credible Weather Report
Weather reports models, like actual weather forecasts, can lose credibility if they change dramatically from week to week unless something dramatic has changed for the project. Problems that could change a weather report in one week include losing a significant percentage of people to other work, a missed vendor deadline, or realizing late in the project that the architecture won't support the planned feature set. <?xml:namespace prefix = o /??>
Another way to hurt credibility is to use less-than-professional weather icons. In the same way that your project dashboard needs to be clear to your readers, the weather report icons need to add to your credibility, not diminish it.
From Project Data to a Weather Report
If you're already gathering a variety of project data--schedule data, velocity charts, defect trends, test coverage, people assignments, and risk list--then the weather report is your best assessment of the overall picture. If you're not collecting that data, resist the temptation to use a gut feeling for the weather report. Instead use progress toward release criteria for the weather report.
Frequency of Weather Reporting
The goal of the weather report is to help people understand the project assessment and avoid surprises. Projects with more than two months left should have a weekly weather report. At some point--certainly by the project's final month--or near major milestones, you may need a weather report a couple of times a week.
Because managers are busy and don't always have time for the details, consider weather reports to communicate regular project assessments. Select your weather icons based on analytical data and make the criteria for the icon clear.
I thank Rodney Thompson and Esther Derby for their reviews of this column, and Thompson for graciously providing his criteria for each of his weather report icons (see table above).
- "What Do They Pay You to Do? " STQE, September/October 2001.
- "Are We There Yet?" Better Software magazine, January 2006.
- Check out a variety of weather icons online at: