Insight from Agora Consultants

Does forecast status make sense?

Businessman Consulting Glowing Crystal Ball 

Within the project management industry we often see people include “forecast status” as an element of project status reports along with current status and previous status. The expectation is Project Managers will include a status of what they think the status will be for the next reporting period. For instance, the Project Manager would forecast if finances will be red, yellow or green.

Status is defined as “state or condition of affairs”. It is a measurement of where things are right now.

Previous status makes sense. Previous status is the condition of affairs measured at a previous point in time.

Forecast status does not make sense. It is not possible to measure something in the future. The intent of forecast status is “what do you think the condition of affairs will be at the next reporting period”. In order to make this forecast, a project manager will (should) base it on something measured today. By reporting that measurement as the indicator of predicted status, it is a truer representation of the information.

Instead of trying to measure into the future, measure something today that is a predictor of future status. Some people refer to this as a leading indicator. For instance, if it is financial status, the number of pending change requests may be an indicator that the finance status may change.

Moving towards metrics that are based on current information rather than an opinion of the future eventually results in better decision making since the information is more accurate.

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