Sunday, February 25, 2024

Leading Indicators and Lagging Indicators in Project Management

For the first time, in the PMBOK® Guide 7th edition, both leading and lagging indicators are introduced as Key Performance Indicators (KPI) for a project. Such indicators are applicable in all aspects of management – project, program, portfolio or risk management. It’s also applicable in Agile management.

Let’s understand them in simplest possible terms. The content of this article has been taken from RMP Live Lessons – Guaranteed Pass.


I’ll define an indicator as follows:

“An indicator is something (a result, an event, a statistic) that indicates or signals.”

For example, if you are finding a number of bugs in your team’s deliverables, it indicates a quality problem. Based on it, you can take some actions such as having a more robust definition of done (DoD)

Taking another example related to our personal lives, if you see a cloudy sky, it indicates that rain may happen next. Based on it, you may choose to take some actions such as taking an umbrella or searching for your raincoat.

The first result (high number of bugs) is a lagging indicator. This is because you came to know about it after the bugs occurred. But the second one is a leading indicator for rain. Because before the event occurred (rain), you came to the possibility of the event happening. 

Now that I’ve introduced two more terms – leading and lagging indicators – let’s understand them in detail. 

Leading Indicators

I’ll slightly change the definition provided by the Project Management Institute (PMI®) and will define it as:

“A leading indicator is a measurable data that helps to anticipate (predict) changes or trends in a project.”

Simply put, a leading indicator is about the future or it indicates the future. 

Some of the examples in management can be the followings:

  • Lack of a risk management processes
  • Stakeholders who are not available or engaged
  • Poorly defined project success criteria
  • Size of the project (quantifiable)
  • Complexity of the project
  • Number of items in progress after taken from the Backlog (quantifiable)

Considering the last example of too many in-progress items indicate a bottleneck in flow of work, or too complex work being taken-up. 

Lagging Indicators

Here too, PMI provides a good definition, but I'll modify a little:

“A lagging indicator is a measurable data that measures deliverables or events in a project.”

Simply put, a lagging indicator is about the past or it gives information about the past. 

Examples of lagging indicators can be:

  • Number of deliverables completed (quantifiable)
  • Schedule variance (quantifiable)
  • Cost variance (quantifiable)
  • Amount of resources consumed (quantifiable)

Taking the first example, one can say that if you are completing a good number of deliverables, then the project is progressing well. 

Next, I’m going to relate leading and lagging indicators with preventive and corrective actions, which you have to know as an aspiring PMP, PgMP, or RMP. 

Leading Indicators and Preventive Actions

As defined by PMI:

A preventive action is an intentional activity that ensures the future performance of the project work is aligned with the project management plan. 

For projects in an Agile environment, it'll be your product backlog with the product goal. In other words, the actions should be aligned with the product goal (or release goal or Sprint goal). 

Leading indicators can lead to preventive actions. With it, before the event or condition happens, you can take actions. For example, considering our second example of rain, before the rain event happens, you can take actions such as taking an umbrella.

Lagging Indicators and Corrective Actions

As per PMI: 

A corrective action is an intentional activity that realigns the performance of the project work with the project management plan. 

For projects executed with Agile frameworks, you will be taking actions that realigns with the product goal, release goal or Sprint goal.

Lagging indicators can result in corrective actions. For example, schedule variance is a lagging indicator. If very high variance, you can take actions with techniques such as fast tracking or crashing to improve. 

Comparison  Leading and Lagging Indicators

The comparision with both the differences and commanalities between leading and lagging indicators are shown in the table below.

Both these indicators are part of the Measurement Performance Domain (PD) of the PMBOK Guide, 7th edition. Because these indicators are primarily about measurement. The PMBOK guide prudently notes and I quote verbatim:

“In and of themselves, KPIs are simply measures that have no real use unless and until they are used. Discussing leading and lagging indicators and identifying areas for improvement, as appropriate, can have a positive impact on performance.” 

Indeed, measurements should be used. In my view, as a management professional and leader, you should measure (and use) both leading and lagging indicators. In fact, I'd say it's a best practice to use both in your projects.


[1] Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) Guide, 7th edition, by Project Management Institute

[2] RMP Live Lessons - Guaranteed Pass or Your Money Back, by Satya Narayan Dash 

Monday, February 19, 2024

Management Yogi's Hybrid-Agile (CHAMP) Certification: Customizing Sprint Tools in MS Project Agile

In a recent webinar series on Agile with respect to Kanban, there were discussions on customizing the needed commands for all Scrum or Kanban tools directly in the MS Project Ribbon. This saves time, makes the commands easier to find and operate for beginners, and is also quite useful. 

You can watch webinar series on Practical Kanban below:

The content of this article will be applicable for Hybrid-Scrum, Hybrid-Kanban as well as plain Scrum and/or Kanban projects.

Now, before creating the customized Ribbon for your work, you need to know where the commands are consolidated together in the ribbon! These will be available in Backstage view > Project Options > Customize Ribbon tab > Customize Ribbon. Then select the Tool Tabs from “Choose commands from:”. 

(If low visibility, please click on the images to enlarge)

Sprint Tools and Task Board Tools (Scrum and Kanban)

Now, under the Tools Tab of Customize the Ribbon:

  • For Scrum, you have the Sprint Tools.
  • For Kanban, you have the Task Board Tools.

The following commands are available in Sprint Tools and Task Board Tools. 

As you can see, for Sprint Tools (used for Scrum projects), the commands are:

  • Views group > Task Board, Planning and Sprint commands
  • Sprints group > Manage commands

On the other hand, for Task Board Tools (used for Kanban projects), the commands are:

  • View group > Sheet command
  • Customize group > Customize Cards, Show % Complete Mapping commands 

There are also Task Sheet related tools and commands, however, they are legacy commands. 

Now, we are going to create one custom tab and two custom groups to manage Scrum projects. 

Custom Tabs and Groups for Scrum  Or Hybrid-Scrum Projects

To create the custom tab, you can go to “Customize the Ribbon:” on the right side of Project Options. There click on New Tab command, which will create one new tab with a new group. 

Rename the newly created tab as Scrum Management and the group as All Sprint Commands. Also, add another group under Scrum Management as Other Commands. After you performed these operations, you will have the following view on the right side of Project Options > Customize the Ribbon. 

Add the Necessary Commands

This step is about adding the necessary or needed commands into the newly created groups under the tabs. Under “All Sprint Commands” group, we will have:

  • Planning (from Sprint Tools)
  • Sprint (from Sprint Tools)
  • Task Board (from Sprint Tools) 
  • Sheet (from Sprint Tools)
  • Customize Cards (from Sprint Tools)
  • Show % Mapping (from Sprint Tools)

To add them into the group, use the “Add >>” command in the middle. After you add, you will get the following view. 

Similarly, for the “Other Commands” group, we will add the following commands:

  • Indent (from Task tab > Schedule group)
  • Outdent (from Task tab > Schedule group)
  • Set Status Date (from Project tab > Status group)
  • Entire Project (from View tab > Zoom group)
  • Link Tasks (from Task tab > Schedule group)
  • 100% Complete (from Task tab > Schedule group)
  • Assign Resources (from Resource tab > Assignment group)

After you add all these commands into the “Other Commands” group under the “Scrum Management” tab, you will have the following view. 

Rename the Commands

In this step, we will rename some of the commands, especially the Sprint related ones for better understanding. We will do the following renaming.

  • Planning renamed as Sprint Planning
  • Sprint renamed as All Sprint Boards
  • Manage as Manage Sprints
  • Sheet as Sheet Views

Post it, the view will be as shown below. 

Also, do note that you enable the checkbox for the Scrum Management custom tab. If you don’t, then the custom tab won’t be visible. Did you read the previous two lines? Those are important!

Visualization the (Hybrid) Scrum Management Tab

Finally, when you click OK on the previous window, you will find the newly created Custom Group of Scrum Management available in the ribbon. It’s shown below. If you are doing purely Hybrid-Scrum Management, you can just rename the tab as "Hybrid-Scrum Management".  (click on the image to enlarge)

As shown, we have all the needed commands to manage are in the Scrum Management tab now and all these commands are directly available in just ONE TAB. Is not it easy, convenient?

Managing Hybrid-Agile Projects

I've shown a few frequently used commands in this post. When you manage Hybrid-Agile projects, you may have additional commands needed. These commands can be added into "Other Commands" group. 

As noted earlier, initially it can be a good practice, when you are not very familiar with the location of all the commands available across the various tabs in the ribbon.


[1] Certification Course: Certified Hybrid-Agile Master Professional (CHAMP), by Satya Narayan Dash

[2] Online Course: Mastering MS Project Agile, by Satya Narayan Dash

Monday, February 12, 2024

Risk Breakdown Structure and Work Breakdown Structure – A Combined Way!

The Risk Breakdown Structure (RBS) is mostly used in Risk Management, whereas the Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) is in Scope Management. But then they can be combined to provide you better value from both the breakdown structures. 

In an earlier article, I noted the following:

"RBS can be used in combination with WBS to identify potential sources of risk. For example, the XYZ work package of WBS can be technical, environmental and political risk categories."

In my interactions with management practitioners, when I inform them, surprised looks come-up with certain questions: 

  • How can RBS be used with a WBS?
  • What are the advantages in having a combined structure and analysis?

In this article, we will explore just that!

Let’s start with a sample WBS.

A Sample Work Breakdown Structure (WBS)

I’ll reuse another WBS from one of my previous articles. This is depicted below. I’ve modified the WBS from the linked article a bit. 

As shown above, it’s only up-to Level 2 (L2). The reason is that I’m not going to identify the risks at the lowest level, but at a higher level. This way, I can refine more as I build the final-cut of RBS. This will be based on the areas identified in the WBS. 

Also, you’d have noticed that I’ve added another level (L0), which is the overall “Book Project”. Interpreting the above figure, you can say:

  • At Level – 0, we have the Book Project. I’ve added L0 so that the WBS is synchronized in its structure with the RBS.
  • At Level – 1, we have, Book – Risk Management
  • At Level – 2, we have Manuscript, Write Book, Edit Book, Publish Book.

Next, let’s take a look at the sample RBS.

A Sample Risk Breakdown Structure (RBS)

For the sample RBS, I’ll use it from my previous article (with modifications for the book) as well and I’ll keep the structure at a higher-level (L2).  

As shown above:

  • The Book Project is at the highest level, which is Level - 0 of the RBS.
  • Under it, at Level – 1 of the RBS, there is Book – Risk Management
  • Next, at Level – 2 of the RBS, we have multiple risks such as Writer’s Risk (e.g., writer’s block), Hosting Risk (e.g., online hosting problems), Editing Risk (e.g., wrong interpretation of meaning), Publishing Risk (e.g., publisher being unavailable). 

Finally, we are going to combine the RBS with the WBS, which will help us in identification of risks.

Combined RBS and WBS

While combining, I’ll keep the WBS in the X-axis (horizontal) and the RBS in the Y-axis (vertical).  

Let’s understand and interpret the above figure:

  • The risks are identified by considering the L2 of RBS and L2 of WBS.
  • In the lowest row of the table shown with tick marksthe “Writer’s Risk” category of the RBS is associated with “Write Book” and “Edit Book” of the WBS. It means one can have a cluster of writer’s risks while going for the deliverables of Write Book and Edit Book. 
  • Taking another example, in the topmost row of the table with tick marks, the “Publishing Risk” category is associated with “Manuscript” and “Publish Book” deliverables.  

Hence, considering the second bullet point above, one can say that a number of writer's risks (from the RBS) can be found while writing the book and editing the book (from the WBS).  Similarly, one can say a number of publishing risks can be found during the development of manuscript and of course, while publishing the book. 


When you combine the RBS and analyze the risk categories with the WBS, you can find the areas when the project is most likely to exhibit the most risk. 

As demonstrated in the final figure, one can quickly find the areas of the project, where you can find various categories of risk. In turn, it helps to build a more refined Risk Register.

[1] Practical RMP with Primavera Risk Analysis, by Satya Narayan Dash.

[3] RMP 30/40 Contact Hours Online, Satya Narayan Dash.

Sunday, February 04, 2024

PMP Live Lessons Success Story: The Best Course Content I’ve Ever Seen and Blindly Followed The Material To Be A PMP

By Lakshmi Narayan Dash, PMP


I had been working in the IT industry for years in various administration and operation projects. I decided and wanted to go from technical responsibility to management responsibility. 

My keen desire was to learn agile well, which will help in my new responsibility. The PMP certification course has at least 50% content from Agile. This encouraged me to go for the credential.

PMP Coaching Experience

I was completely new to Agile when I began. I had one-to-one discussions, and also joined sessions in group settings. Though I was completely new to Agile, after the session and going through the material, my knowledge improved rapidly. I was giving better ideas and suggestions to the Product Owners (POs) and Scrum Masters (SMs), with whom I have been driving the project for the last three years.

Own Study

I have been trying and preparing for the exam from 2021. In the first round of my preparation, I was slow and was able to complete Integration Management. The next preparation I went through Agile content repeatedly. The material and content are the best as per my knowledge and experience.

My last preparation was a very short one and it began during the end of 2023. I had gone through the PMP Live Lessons content for a variety of questions. I had a discussion with Satya Sir. Post the discussion, 

I only prepared for Agile, Hybrid, Resource Management, Stakeholder Management, Communication Management, Quality and Procurement Management. 

I tried multiple question sets from the PMP Live Lessons. The below things helped:

  • Going through Agile content of Live Session more than 5 times and twice while going through the lesson-end questions.
  • I’ve gone through Resource Management, Stakeholder and Communication Management thrice
  • I nearly tried around 600 questions though I was not prepared through other knowledge areas (KAs).


PMP Live Lessons course is the best one I have ever seen. As mentioned earlier, I have been preparing since 2021. But it’s difficult from my end to pay for three years. 

Hence, I tried other free material from the internet, material from Indian Institute of Management’s (IIM) training etc. Trust me, they don’t have any substantial content. 

Please plan for 6 months PMP Live Lessons membership and blindly follow the instructions given in the live sessions. You yourself will tell where you stand after six months. Don’t miss the group classes conducted as it is a team learning with experienced managerial students. 

My suggestion will be these:

  • Active listening to the content of Live Lessons.
  • Revise with higher speed.
  • Challenge yourself by going through lesson-end and full-length questions. 
  • Repeat and improve.

PMP Exam Experience

I scheduled and took my exam at the Pearson Exam centre in Kolkata, India.

My strategy was not to leave any question as there is no negative marking. The exam is divided into three parts/sections and my goal was to complete three sections anyway as questions might be from real time, which I wanted to know and learn. 

Followings the number, content and kind of questions faced:

  • Fifty percent questions were from Agile and Hybrid.
  • Thirty percent questions were from resource management, stakeholder management and communication management.
  • Make sure we are preparing as per PMI syllabus for PMP, specifically these three domains - People, Process and Business Environment. 

My final score is shown below. 

Domain-wise, following is my score.

When I was informed that I’ve cleared the exam, at first, I could not believe it. But later it dawned upon me that I’ve indeed cleared the exam and is a certified PMP. Words cannot describe the feeling. You have to experience it yourself to know it. 

Suggestions for PMP Aspirants



  • If you are an experienced professional, don’t wait long to give the exam. Go and give it a shot.
  • There is no need to read the PMBOK Guide, 7th edition. I didn’t receive a single question from it.


I wish I could have extended access to the PMP Live Lessons. The content and questions are outstanding. 

For me, now the actual work has started. The learnings that I have had are to be used in my professional and personal lives.  Everything that you learn in your PMP journey can be planned for and be used in all spheres of your life.

Brief Profile: Lakshmi Narayan Dash, PMP

Current Role: Agile Project Manager and Senior Scrum Master.

Brief experience details: 3.5 years with HCL, 10 years with TCS, 2 years with Deutsche Bank and 9 months with Equiniti.