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Visualizing the state of projects using geometric figures

It’s possible to visualize the state of projects using data in the form of geometric figures. This data is obtained  from project performance and predictive analytics, and after calculations are performed it is put in terms of financial indicators.

The data signifies the amount, for example, of time, work and budget being completed with respect to their respective estimations. The data is represented in percentage for simple illustration purposes, but it could also be represented in normalized form for linearity relationships.

The calculations are obtained by linking real-time data activity and calculated ones such as estimates to completion for work, budget, and time, using both variance analysis and earned value methods.

The following table represents a specific instance of a portfolio management context. The portfolio consist of three projects actively being realized within their respective framework. The table below is derived from calculations based on real-time data and estimated ones.


Scope
Time
Budget
Project A
10%
30%
50%
Project B
70%
60%
100%
Project C
50%
70%
50%

Table 1

Using Excel spreadsheet it’s possible to represent this data graphically - in this case, it could be a triangle. This is because there are three variables for both the number of projects and the number of constraints, so it’s also symmetrical from both points of view.

Graph 1 

The geometric figure could change if, for example, instead of three, there are five projects being monitored with the same number of constraints (see Graph 2 below).


Scope
Time
Budget
Project A
10%
30%
50%
Project B
70%
60%
100%
Project C
50%
70%
50%
Project D
45%
60%
50%
Project E
50%
70%
90%
Table 2 

In this case, if the number of projects are used as reference to check against the values of the constraints, then the figure becomes a five-sided polygon (a pentagon).

Graph 2


Otherwise, if the number of constraints are used as reference to check against the projects, then it will be a triangle. So, in this case, there is no symmetry.

Graph 3 

Only the graphical information part should be interpreted and used to determine the state of projects (similar to a dashboard approach). The added value here is that visual interpretation is easy and efficient and, moreover, supportive in a quick decision making process.

From Table 1, the algorithm for this instance could be: 

Project A: at 30% of its time, consumed 50% of its budget and produced 30% of the work. 

Project B: at 60% of its time, consumed all its budget and produced 70% of the work. 

Project C: at 70% of its time, it used up 50% of its budget and produced 50% of the work. 

Although the constraints variables are correlated, linearity is based on how the work load is distributed throughout the project, for each project. 

The above example is relative to a specific instance ... a different instance will have different data. The data used in this example is only for illustration purposes.

This model is dynamic throughout the lifecycle of each project because the data is continuously processed (based on  real-time activity and calculated ones).

The best way to visualize the graph is through a web/mobile application from anywhere and anytime.

(See also Forecasting Project Costs using Variance Analysis and Multiple Projects Performance Analysis using the Earned Value Method).

N.B.- The number of variables to track and process define the shape of the graph, i.e., the geometric figure.

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