Always the skeptic, we decided to test the model and the nomogram with a project
of our own devising, albeit with the memories of a particular past project in
mind. Thus, we contemplated a project that we concluded from Figure 1 was in Class 2.
The team we had put together was new, had not worked together before, and had only moderate experience, though collectively their training seemed to cover the necessary technological territory. We posited them at a 4, and we planned to run the project ourselves so the process should be at least at level 8. However, when we ran these numbers through the nomogram, we came up with a probability of success of only 43%. That was not very encouraging. Was that reasonable or had we made some fundamental error using the nomogram?
We put the question to Joe. He responded:
"The result does not surprise me. A team with less than average strength working on an above-average difficulty project will struggle. The high process component score helps, but not enough. But note that using the nomogram, if you keep your process component at 8 and improve the team a bit, from a 4 to a 5, you now have a 50% chance of success. That's much better you now have a fighting chance."
Joe's answer pleased us for two reasons. Firstly, we had used the tool correctly. But secondly and more importantly, the unexpected answer caused us to see what we could do to improve our chances. We looked first at team strength, because for Class 2 that gives us more leverage than process. Holding everything else constant, we found that by slightly increasing the team strength, i.e. from a 4 to a 5, we improved our probability of success by 7%.
In practice that demonstration would have been a great way to convince management to give us a budget for training, or otherwise, give us access to a couple of more experienced people to back up our team strength.