Sunday, January 13, 2008

Does your project have Measuritis?

Measuritis is a chronic viral condition in which your management, your project office, or perhaps even you are obsessed with numerical measurements of everything that can possibly have a number associated with it. My favorite Measuritis story is this one (partially because it's true).

My colleague and I were each leading project groups. We each had about 10 project managers overseeing important equipment and network deployments. Each week, we produced a report which gave a progress report on each project. Problem was, our director kept asking for the data to be reconfigured in different ways (he didn't have the software skills to reconfigure these himself). So he would continually ask for the data to be reported every which way. To try to show him the error of his ways, we created a special report which listed the various reports we were generating for him. On this "report report" as we sarcastically called it, we listed the various reports we were issuing for him, with what frequency, and which audience.
Well, instead of getting our intended message, our esteemed manager reacted like this: "Gentlemen, that report is very nice. I'd like to see it produced once a week".

I took two lessons learned from this episode:
1. Sarcasm is often lost on your "victim" and instead, you become the victim.
2. There are different varieties of Measuritis. In this case it was a particularly deadly strain of the virus called reportata overlodum.

My experience in talking with those who run project offices also provides plenty of examples of Measuritis infection. In the quest for KPIs (Key Performance Indices), all that can be measured, is. And that's not the real problem - the problem is the credence that is given to the numbers calculated from these measurements. Don't get me wrong. I am not opposed to project dashboards and KPIs in general. What I am saying is that it makes sense to be extremely thoughtful and careful when establishing the measurements and very important to consider the intangibles. I know that "you cannot fix what you don't measure", but you also must be aware of what you cannot measure and account for it in the mix.

I am hoping to start a conversation on this subject, via people responding to this posting. Don't worry, I have had Blogger install an anti-measuritis anti-virus pattern; your project will not be contaminated. Also, I promise not to generate pie-charts, trend data, or radar diagrams showing the number of postings per unit time...

For your reference I provide the following resources:

A very short article which discusses the merits of devising project measurements.

A link on this subject from Jerry Manas' excellent blog, PMThink! on this subject.

The general links for these two blogs are as follows:
Content Spool's Business Management section:

Jerry Manas' Blog, PMThink!:

So please consider sharing here your stories of Measuritis. Thanks! And if you have it, get well soon!

2 comments: said...

Good timely topic.. The author points to a number of factors that very important.

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lazymale said...

Hey Rich. You article is exactly what I was looking for on a Monday morning. Good one!

I see that this blog is only a few days old. I am also in the process of creating my own website to write about my experiences - a big part of which is management. I have not publicised the site as yet coz it has only 2 articles that I wrote. I am just getting warmed up but i thought I would share it with you and get your thoughts on it. As a newcomer in the world of blogging, it would mean a lot. So, when you get time visit Have a nice day!

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