Measuring Project's health using DICE

Updated: Oct 3

The DICE method was developed by Harold L. Sirkin, Perry Keenan and Alan Jackson in their white paper, “The Hard Side of Change Management”. It is a scoring methodology to understand the health of your project. You can calculate the score at any point in your project to get a snapshot of your project’s health. It is suggested, similar to the charter, to calculate your DICE score at the beginning of every important phase of your project so you become aware of how well it is progressing.

DICE stands for:

  • Duration refers to the period between project gates or key decision checkpoints.

  • Integrity refers to a team’s reliability in making the project successful.

  • Commitment is not limited to the team members (C2), but also senior management (C1).

  • Effort refers to the amount of time and energy the team members need for the project in addition to what they already have on hand.

Each factor is given a number based on its criteria. The numbers are used in this equation yielding a score: D + (2 X I) + (2XC1) + C2 + E = Score

So how do you attribute a number to each of the factors? Let us dive into each factor to understand how the number is evaluated.

1. Duration looks at how long a change initiative takes in time So, the questions you ask are:

• How long will the project take to complete?

• For long projects, there are gates or milestones…. How long is the next major milestone?"

Duration is important because the longer a change initiative takes, the more likely it is to go off-track. Therefore, to improve your score:

• Reduce the time frame between the milestones

• Re-engineer the structure of the milestones…are they occurring regularly? Do they move the project to the next phase? Are stakeholders present and engaged?

Giving Duration a number:

• 1 point: < 2 months

• 2 points: 2 < D < 4 months

• 3 points: 4 < D < 8 months

• 4 points: < 8 months

2. Integrity is important for projects because of all the change management you will need to do preparing the employees for the changes to come. You need to have the right people with the right skill sets to be part of the team and capable of working on the project. Make sure that everyone understands their place in the team as well as their responsibilities. If you yourself require some help in the project manager position, seek it out by getting a mentor or coach:

• Project team with the right skill set.

• Is everyone capable and available for the project?

Integrity is important because having the right people make up the team and performing the tasks is an integral part of the whole. It will set up the project for success. Your goal is to improve a process in the right way that will be used by the people that are part of the process. You can improve your score by:

• Ensure the people have sufficient technical skills

• The project leader is capable

• Everyone understands their respective roles and responsibilities on the project.

Evaluating Integrity:

  • 1 point: if the project has a capable leader that can motivate the team and dedicate more than 50% of their time to the project

  • 4 points: if the project leader is a novice or dedicates < 50% of their time to the project

  • 2 or 3 points: if you believe the project leader is in between the two above thresholds

3. Commitment is important when you are planning on making a paradigm shift in the organization, you need the top-down or the buy-in to the project. The top-down approach alone is not going to make it a success. You also require the buy-in from management and employees. Basically, all levels of your organization should have at least one promoter helping you out with change management. So, when we look at commitment, we have it split into senior management and the team you are going to form. Make sure your team has those people in the right levels to help you through the change.

• Do you have buy-in of senior management, your sponsor, and your team?

• Are they committed to ensuring the change will occur and be part of making it happen?

Commitment is important because top level commitment trickling down to the other levels is important for the project to succeed. Commitment of your stakeholders is important during the project planning and execution, but it is essential for implementation. You want your improved process to be adopted within your organization. You can improve your score by:

• C1 Senior Management: have them demonstrate their commitment to the organization…i.e. town halls, newsletters, etc.

• C2 PM and team: enhance communications within the team; be able to demonstrate the project’s importance to senior management, i.e. status meetings, quick hit solutions.

Evaluating Commitment C1 Senior Management:

• 1 point: if the project needs and goals are clearly articulated

• 4 points: if you see in the team any signs of reluctance

• 2 or 3 points: if you feel there is a mixed bag of people in your team

Evaluating Commitment C2 PM and team:

• 1 point: if the team members are eager to work on the project

• 2 points: if the team members are willing to work on the project

• 3 or 4 points: if you feel there is a mixed bag of people in your team

4. Effort is important because you need people to spend time on the project properly so it can get done. And in today’s world, resources are doing multi-jobs or stretched with other initiatives, so you are competing to get them on your project. Make sure you have a sense of what needs to happen in your project, possibly a schedule with milestones so you can explain to your team how much time as well as when they are required to jump in.

• Does each team member have the project as part of their Goals & Objectives, standard work or mandate?

• Do you have buy-in of senior management, your sponsor and your team?

Effort is important because just getting someone to say they will be on your team only to see that they don’t have the time to do what is required of them becomes an obstacle for your project. Remember, you are competing for the resources to be on your project. Having the right resources accomplishing the required activities on your project in the time allotted is an accomplishment in itself. You can improve your score by:

• As project lead, manage your team resources effectively, transitioning them in / out of the project including even workload or incremental work

• See to have some key resources dedicated in the phase you require them, suspending their standard work or some non-core activities

Evaluating Effort's numerical value:

• 1 point: up to 10 % of the time is needed for the workload

• 2 points: 10-20 % of the time is needed for the workload

• 3 points: 20-40 % of the time is needed for the workload

• 4 points: 40% and above time needed for the workload

DICE Score

Once you evaluate your team based on each of the factors, then you place the respective numbers within the DICE equation:

D + (2 X I) + (2XC1) + C2 + E = Score

  • A score of 7-14, your project’s health is in the “Win” range. This means, at this point in time your project can be executed successfully.

  • A score of 14-17, your project’s health is in the “Worry” range. This means, at this point in time you need to look at each factor to see which one needs to be improved because your project is in trouble. There is a chance it will not succeed.

  • A score of 17-28, your project’s health is in the “Woe” range. This means, at this point in time your project is set out to fail. It is important you look at each factor to see which one needs to be improved to avoid failure.

Since this method is simply telling you how your project looks at a given time when factors are measured, it is considered a static number. Therefore, it should be calculated multiple times during the execution of your project to see if anything changed in your project’s dynamics.

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Resource Reference: A Lean Six Sigma recipe: Improving a process in a matter of months, by Antonella Zompa (ISBN 978-1-7347123-0-8)


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