Metrics of success in development – Part 2

Last time we listed the first three questions of a self-assessment questionnaire for Development managers. Those first three related to project completion, staff turnover, and how well the initial functional or feature list was met. If you are having problems delivering products, most likely you will experience problems in one or more of these initial three areas.

There is a less tangible measure
that relates to suitability of the product to the customer. But I’m still trying to figure out how to ask about that in a way that leads to a consistent and useful measure. If you have any suggestions, please make a comment on this blog.

Here are the next three questions:

4. How many hours per week are put in by your project or program staff? This is to be answered in two parts: first for the average over the life of the project, and then for the peak of the project or program. Answer this for each of the most recent 3 projects or programs.

4a. Average over the project or program:
Over 60 hours/week (add 0 points per project)
50 to 60 hours / week (add 1 point per project)
40 to 50 hours / week (add 2 points per project)
less than 40 hours / week (add 0 points per project)

4b. Peak week during the project or program:
Over 80 hours / week (add 0 points per project)
70 to 80 hours / week (add 1 point per project)
60 to 70 hours / week (add 2 points per project)
40 to 60 hours / week (add 3 points per project)

5. How many direct reports do you have? (Direct reports include staff assistants, administrators, secretaries, project leaders, managers and interns)
Over 12 (add 0 points)
10 to 12 (add 1 point)
8 to 9 (add 2 points)
3 to 7 (add 3 points)
0 to 2 (add 0 points)

6. Of your direct reports, how many do you regards as “problem” employees (people you will replace when there is an opportunity)?
0 (add 3 points)
1 (add 1 points)
2 (add 0 points)

Questions 4 and 5 are searching for sustainability in your project loading. It’s OK to have peak weeks in which people are working 10 to 20 more hours than is typical during the project. But if you are driving everyone to work more than 60 hours per week on a long-term basis, you are not getting output that is sustainable. It may be time for you to institute metrics that measure results rather than inputs. Then you can experiment with different work schedules to see which ones result in the greatest output.

Sustainability applies to you and your management time, too. If you have more than 9 direct reports, the odds are that you are (a) not managing all of them as well as they could be managed, or (b) overloading yourself with management tasks that give you little time for planning and strategic analysis.

Next time we’ll complete the question list and tally the points for a complete score.

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    About John Levy

    John Levy works with senior managers in mid-sized organizations who are responsible for development and delivery of major software or hardware/software products. He helps them gain confidence that their projects will succeed.

    Development projects can fail in many ways. You need a guide who speaks the language of business and is knowledgeable about technology. John aligns Development with the organization's strategy so it will contribute efficiently to the success of the enterprise.

    John has been consulting for over 20 years. His book on managing high-tech teams, Get Out of the Way, was published in 2010.

    For more information, email him at, or call 415 663-1818.
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