Inadequacy of project Percentage of Completion (PoC)

PoC is a widely used metric in traditional organizations to monitor their projects. Normally such projects can have 40+ people with multiple vendors involved. The project is structured into teams some implement Agile others are not. Sometimes the program management wants to become Agile but they are not sure how to structure their team for meeting compliance and regulation expectations, as well as inherited organization’s practices.

Such projects normally produce products of value to their organization. Upon completing development, the product can last for years generating revenue and allowing the organization to cease market opportunities. The project can last usually for 1-3 years for developing the product. The ultimate measure is the satisfaction of the product owner who is trusted to realize the promised product goals. The question is,  how the organization can measure PoC during product construction?

Though we can have high level features (WBS in traditional organizations), however, true completion of those features can only be measured by the product owner. The product owner (business owner) opts to satisfy the needs of varied interests of multiple stakeholders. Then, the product owner can only accept the product if PoC is 100%,  only when the product satisfied all the stakeholders’ expectations.

Till that happens his reply on PoC is 0%. For example, if the product developed so far meets the end client immediate needs but fails to satisfy management mandate to be extended to more clients, then the product will not meet its return On Investment (ROI) and will be domed failure. Organizations can’t afford to create products for one customer.

In short in reality the PoC is binary measure while it is conceived as a meter which should be revised from one reporting period to the next.

Earned Value can be strong measure of PoC for traditional projects, but will probably fail the test of dynamic environments which Agile and Kanban are becoming the norm. PoC can be an elusive measure and it is a reflection of non transparent culture. This is because it is single handedly judged by the product owner.

Relying on PoC can deprive the organizations from opportunities of achieving more well-rounded value of progress measure.

Identifying quantitative measures of success for relevant product qualities upfront is for me the real measure of PoC during product development. This should apply to traditional IT setup as well as innovative product development companies.

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