Calculating Completion



By Patrick Weaver

Melbourne, Australia


Predicting the likely completion date of your project has been important to project managers and their stakeholders for millennia. In ancient time the builder who finished a project late, embarrassing the local Emperor, could find the concept of a ‘project deadline’ had a more literal interpretation.  Fast forward a few centuries and a contract deadline is central to the plot in Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice, but for an ambiguity in the drafting of the contract the play would have a very different ending.

On a more practical level, most of the fundamental law relating to contract delays, extensions of time, and damages for delay, had been settled by the courts by the end of the 19th century. This means people entering into a contract had to have processes for determining a reasonable time for the completion of the works, then assessing how well progress was tracking towards achieving the date. What is missing from the records is how this was achieved prior to the 20th century. Most likely a combination of intuition and experience were the primary tools of the project manager.

Tools used for predicting the completion of projects in more modern times include: Bar Charts, Burndown Charts, Kanban Boards, Velocity, CPM, EVM + ES, and WPM. This paper will consider each of these options against a highly simplified project, with a focus on the subjective and objective information available from each tool and how they compare.

Project for analysis

The hypothetical project for this assessment is a deliberately simplified IT project; the data is designed to highlight and amplify the benefits and limitations of the information available from the different tools.

Project parameters

The overall project has the following parameters:

  • Duration, 4 months
  • Work to be produced, 80 Story-points (uniformly sized)
  • Production rate, 20 Story-points per month
  • Value, $500 per Story-point
  • Staffing, A single team working continuously

Status at the half-way point (end of month 2)

  • Time Now (data date) 2 months
  • Work accomplished 20 Story-points (1 month’s work)
  • Planned Value $20,000
  • Earned Value $10,000
  • Actual Cost $ not required for a time assessment

These values have been selected to make manual assessment easy, allowing readers to mentally validate the calculations and commentary below.  Real-world data is usually much more complex and confusing, but the tools and processes do not change.

Bar Charts (Gantt Chart)

Bar charts have been used since 1756 to show events or activities against a timescale. By 1912 they had developed into sophisticated project control tools. While bar charts are very useful as both a thinking aide and for communicating information, in its basic form a bar chart is a static diagram.


To read entire paper, click here

How to cite this paper: Weaver, P. (2023). Calculating Completion; PM World Journal, Vol. XII, Issue VII, July. Available online at https://pmworldlibrary.net/wp-content/uploads/2023/07/pmwj131-Jul2023-Weaver-Calculating-Completion-featured-paper.pdf

About the Author 

Patrick Weaver              

Melbourne, Australia


Patrick Weaver, PMP, PMI-SP, FAICD, FCIOB, is the Managing Director of Mosaic Project Services Pty Ltd, an Australian project management consultancy specializing in project control systems.  He is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Building, Australasia (FCIOB) and a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors (FAICD). He is a member of the PMI Melbourne Chapter (Australia), as well a full member of AIPM, and the Project Management College of Scheduling (PMCOS).

Patrick has over 50 years’ experience in Project Management. His career was initially focused on the planning and managing of construction, engineering and infrastructure projects in the UK and Australia. The last 35 years has seen his businesses and experience expand to include the successful delivery of project scheduling services and PMOs in a range of government, ICT and business environments; with a strong focus on project management training.

His consultancy work encompasses: developing and advising on project schedules, developing and presenting PM training courses, managing the development of internal project control systems for client organizations, and assisting with dispute resolution and claims management.

In the last few years, Patrick has sought to ‘give back’ to the industry he has participated in since leaving college through contributions to the development of the project management profession. In addition to his committee roles, he has presented papers at a wide range of project management conferences in the USA, Europe, Asia and Australia, has an on-going role with the PGCS conference in Australia and is part of the Australian delegation to ISO TC258.

Patrick can be contacted at patw@mosaicprojects.com.au or at www.mosaicprojects.com.au.

To view other works by Pat Weaver, visit his author showcase in the PM World Library at https://pmworldlibrary.net/authors/patrick-weaver/