Predicting the Weather and your Projects down to the Minute

What time will it start to rain today? What time will it stop? If you want to know the answer to this question get an iPhone App called Dark Sky. It will tell you exactly when the rain will start and stop down to the exact location.


If you want to know exactly when your project feature will get done, ask your development team.

These guys @ Dark Sky did not use the conventional weather forecasting models using physical models that use fluid dynamics and need supercomputers. It is very expensive and not always accurate.

Think about when you estimated your last multi million dollar project. The team spent a ton of time & effort. But only resulting in a confidence level of around 60%.

The folks @ Dark Sky took the National Weather Service data and instead of a physical model built algorithms to determine where the storm is headed or when the rain will start. It was amazingly accurate down to the minute. But even with this vast amount of data and algorithms you can only predict up to an hour.

I have observed that projects teams are good at estimating work up to two weeks into the future, anything beyond that it’s like there may be a 40% chance of rain.

We need both a physical weather model as well as something like Dark Sky
for our projects. Constantly adjusting as new data comes to light. Now we project managers don’t have a Dark Sky type app for our project estimation, nor do we always have good structured project data.  So instead gather data by constantly polling your teams on estimate to complete. Start with frequent and short term estimates – like a couple of days – and then slowly see how well the teams are predicting.

You are the meteorologist  of your project weather. Will it rain on your project in the next 10 hours? When will the rain stop? What does your next 10 day project forecast look like? Whether you realize it or not, you are getting project data everywhere – in meetings, observing people’s reactions, in emails, in hallway conversations, in meeting notes and through body language. Are you listening and collecting this data? Timesheets are just one data point.

Just like the National Weather Service, project data is free. How you use it, that’s entirely up to you.

About Samir Penkar

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