Original Post Date: Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Because I have enrolled in several on-line fiction writing workshops, I regularly receive newsletters about upcoming events in the world of fiction writing.  Several weeks ago I was quite intrigued when I received an invitation to enter a ‘Hint Fiction’ writing contest.  Here I don’t even know what hint fiction is and someone thinks I might be good enough at it to enter a contest – who knew? 

Naturally, I Googled hint fiction (how did we get by without Google?) and found out that it is  “a story of 25 words or fewer that suggests a larger, more complex story”.  Further investigation found some pretty interesting examples of hint fiction.  So I am left to wonder is this a cool new idea that I should try my hand at or is it another example of the direction our society is taking where everything we do, say or think has to be dwindled down to a sound bite or tweet. 

All social commentary aside, this notion of hint fiction drove me down the path of what other things might benefit from a few hints.  Naturally I thought of project management. Suppose every project manager picked a few metrics that would be easy to track, quick to calculate and would give them a hint if a project started to go south.  Well in truth, this is what good project managers do (till now they’ve just been calling this Good Project Management - descriptive I suppose but so old school).

They define a set of metrics, maybe more than 5, and track those metrics on a regular basis to make sure the project stays on track. They compare these metrics to their original project estimates as well as identifying and tracking trends.  This begs the obvious question of which 5 (or so) metrics are the ones that need tracking.  The answer is probably not the same for every project manager.  Some of the more obvious suspects include:


  • Effort (hours charged to the project so far or in a given time period)
  • Productivity (Hours per LOC or FP)
  • Duration (calendar months since project has started)
  • Requirements creep (# of requirements added or changed)
  • Number of tests
  • Defects discovered
  • Defects corrected
  • Percent of requirements complete
  • Percent of requirements accepted by customer

And the list goes on.  The important thing to think of if you want to develop your own ‘hint list’ is what things are the most important for your project (time to market, resource availability, building the right product, etc) and what information is already being collected or could easily be collected with minimal interference of project productivity.