Action Matrix

I - especially as portfolio manager - like the kind of helicopter view on things giving me the overall view. It helps me to see dependencies and risks. But for me not only to manage a portfolio the 30'000ft view is paramount but also other things like projects to give the big picture. I created a visual approach for agile project teams to better understand where the risks are and how the sprint is progressing.

action matrix fig1

The bubbles are initially placed on the corresponding task and amount of story points. As they are not started they appear solid in the status RAG color (Red, Amber and Green). Usually the initial color is green as they are just planned. But there might be scenarios when the sprint is coming to an end and the task is still not being executed so the remaining time might not be sufficient like shown for Task 7.

Let's have quickly a look at the seven bubbles

Task 1 and 2 are planned but not started by the team member or team members, but there are no worries that this is going to happen in the sprint and the tasks can be completed in time.
Task 3 and 5 are just resp. already started but there are issues that need to be solved.
Task 4 is also under way and progressing well
Task 6 is close to be completed but a major risk occurred that needs the full attention of the team
Task 7 is as already explained still planned but because of its size the remaining time in the sprint is getting tight, so it needs to be executed rather sooner than later.

While the spring is progressing the Scrum Master is making another "screen shot" of the Tasks.

action matrix fig2

The updated action matrix is showing the progress since the last snapshot.

At each snapshot the team members are asked to give an estimation how much story points are to be given for to complete a certain task. This triggers some movements in the action matrix that are captured with arrows and the former status

Task 1 is now finished which is indicated by the full pie and with zero remaining story points
Task 2 is one of the rather rare cases where an after-review showed that the effort is even higher than assumed at the sprint planning. So the dot moved to the right instead to the left and in the same moment the status also went from green to amber.
Task 3 and 4 are progressing well and moving towards the zero column. The status is indicating green, so nothing to worry about.
Task 5 which was already before on amber didn't progressed at all and is now red. The team should take this up as high priority.
Task 6 didn't changed and as it was already on red before it hasn't changed. Having a status red and no progress is indicating a serious issue. As the task is close to be completed it should get now high attention from the team.
Task 7 which has the highest effort at the first snapshot (21 story points) could finally be started and is progressing well so that the status is green again.
These snapshots on the action matrix are great fun to watch and are visualizing in a better way the team progress in an agile sprint. The only drawback is that there are currently now software tools which would support my approach. What I am doing is to use embedded excel charts in a word document to produce these pie charts.

action matrix fig3

Using a simple formula only the "Done" value needs to be entered, the "Remaining" figure is the 100-"Done". Even the progress could be shown by 1% steps I suggest to only go for 4 steps

0%: not started

25%: just started

50%: In the middle of execution$

75%: close to completion

100%: completed

But this of course depends on the scrum master's flavor as well.

When the sprint is finished the snapshot of the action matrix should look like this:

action matrix fig4

It would for me be very interesting if you could leave a comment on my page of how you like the approach or what you think it is missing.

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