A framework for performance tracking
Whenever I start a new project, I like to have ways of measuring how well it is going. While there are better ways of tracking progress and performance for long-term endeavors, this technique does not rely on having deep understanding of the problem nor having a standard measurement system.
What is this useful for?
Personally, I love using this system when going into any project with surface knowledge and some related experience.
- Starting a new job
- Creating a presentation
- Starting a new game project
- Starting a new personal project
How it works
This technique leverages expectations and timeboxes "feats" in order to measure progress.
As an example, you might know three or four "feats" that signify you are doing well. These feats are non-specific and very broad.
In my context of being a developer and a consultant, these can look like this:
- Contribute to the codebase
- Improve documentation
- Propose an improvement to the product
As for the timeline for these feats, it can (and most likely should) vary for each feat. If my belief is that a month is enough to achieve a feat, then that is the timebox I should choose.
It is also important to note that this is not the type of metric where you want to add padding (like the usual "double it" for estimations). This time must be set to the exact amount you believe is necessary.
Once the time runs out, you should take some time to reflect and verify if you have achieved these feats or not, and if not, why. This reflection is the most important part, since it allows you to course-correct and continue moving forward.
Finally, in case you are successful you should consider adding more feats to your list. Your newfound context and knowledge might even lead you to deprecating existing feats and replacing them with new ones.
The important thing is for you to have enough material to measure and steer yourself towards success.
Why it works (for me)
Usually it is hard to get feedback about your progress when exploring something new. New unexpected problems can come up and they might leave you feeling lost or like you are not performing.
By having this checklist of sorts, I am able to acknowledge how I am progressing and identify areas of weakness.