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What are the odds? Forecasting with Probabilities

What are the odds? Forecasting with Probabilities

This talk was given at DevOpsCon Berlin in June of 2022. It is a version of the PM72 talk I also have listed here but has less product placement.

See the abstract:
Do you feel like you spend too much time estimating and not enough time doing the work? Has anyone calculated how much that time costs the organization? How often do those expensive estimates turn out to be wrong despite your investment? What if I told you that there’s a way that you can save money and stress by quickly generating forecasts that are as reliable, or better than those you currently create? That way is called probabilistic forecasting and you don’t need to be a math or data wiz to take advantage. In this session you’ll learn how and why to create probabilistic forecasts using your historical data. We’ll also talk about underlying assumptions and misconceptions you might have about the data you’d need to use your historical data for forecasting. Leaving this session you’ll have solid tactics to answer "How much can we complete by X date?" and "How long will this take?" using the level of risk that your organization is willing to accept.

Julia Wester

June 28, 2022
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  1. Julia Wester
    @everydaykanban
    Co-Founder, 55 Degrees AB
    What are the odds?
    Forecasting with probabilities

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  2. Benjamin Franklin


    November 1789
    “…IN THIS WORLD,
    NOTHING IS
    CERTAIN EXCEPT
    DEATH AND TAXES.”

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  3. Often forecasts are
    interpreted as certainties


    because we don’t say
    otherwise
    CC BY-SA 3.0, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3422341

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  4. The 3 Gaps
    Outcomes
    Plans
    Actions
    !
    Effects Gap
    Difference between what we
    expect our actions to achieve
    and what they actually achieve
    !
    Knowledge Gap
    Difference between what we
    would like to know and what we
    actually know
    !
    Alignment Gap
    Difference between what we want people
    to do and what they actually do

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  5. Used with permission from Jim Benson
    The Predictable
    Initial Response

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  6. The workplace version of ruling it harder…
    EE4: Building an SSV
    Timeline
    Total expected hours
    Total hours
    Sam Jansen
    Expected hours
    Total hours
    Alexander Meynen
    Expected hours
    Total hours
    Tinus Michiels
    Expected hours
    Total hours
    Jeroen van Aert
    Expected hours
    Total hours
    Jef Van Den Bergh
    Expected hours
    Total hours
    Bob Verschueren
    Expected hours
    Total hours
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14
    Tasks Subtasks wk h h h h h h h h h h h h h h
    Engineering
    a. Case SSV 1 i. Motor/ Solar panel analysis 7 4 3
    ii. Gear ratio 15 2,5 2,5 10 2,5 2,5 2,5 2,5
    iii. Choice of materials 10 5 1 1 1 1 1 5 1
    iv. Frame design 30 15 2 1 1 1 15 1 1
    v. Optimalisation (bisection method) 25 4 15 10 4
    vi. Sankey diagram 10 12 10
    vii. Production parts 20 10 12 10
    viii. Construction 60 10 10 10 10 10 10
    b. Case Simulink i. Simulation solar panel 24 4 4 4 4 5 4 4 10
    ii. Simulation DC-motor 7 4 3
    iii. Simulation race 6 1 1 1 1 1 1
    c. Case SSV 2 i. Slope run test 24 4 4 4 4 4 4
    ii. Simulation drive shaft 7 3 4
    iii. Technical drawings 40 10 30
    iv. Collision analysis 15 10 5
    d. Race day 30 5 5 5 5 5 5
    Enterprising
    e. Wikipage i. Company information 3 3 1
    ii. SSV information 5 5 1
    f. Name & Logo i. Design 2 1 2
    ii. Engraving 6 3 3
    g. Documents i. Plan of approach 4 2 2 2 2
    ii. Work breakdown structure 4 2 2 2 2
    iii. Gantt chart 10 1 5 3 5 3
    iv. Cooperation contract 2 2 2
    v. Case 1 document 45 5 5 15 5 5 15 5 5 15 5
    vi. Simulink document 15 5 10 5 10
    vii. Case 2 document 40 15 5 10 10
    h. Wikipage i. Upload documents 5 5 1
    ii. Blog 5 5 2 2
    iii. Design description 6 3 3
    iv. Final process report 5
    i. Evaluation i. Test 1 30 5,00 5 5 5 5 5
    ii. Test 2 30 5,00 5 5 5 5 5
    iii. Peer assessments 1
    total 548 0 92 27 92 25 92 21 88 22 91 25 90 25
    Legende milestone
    responsibillity
    Gantt chart 1
    Educating
    Weeks
    CC BY-SA 3.0 - https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/b/bf/AM4_Gantt.pdf

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  7. Deterministic Forecast
    IT WILL BE


    DONE ON


    X DATE
    •Communicates a single
    possible outcome


    •Provides no probability of
    that outcome


    •Appropriate only when
    certainty is assured

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  8. Probabilistic Forecast
    THERE’S AN


    85% CHANCE


    IT WILL BE DONE


    ON OR BEFORE

    X DATE
    •Two components:


    ‣ Range of outcomes


    ‣ Probability you’ll fall into
    that range


    •Appropriate whenever
    uncertainty is present

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  9. Single Item Forecasts
    Multiple Item Forecasts
    📆


    Fixed Date
    📑


    Fixed Scope
    2 Types
    Let’s create these probabilistic forecasts

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  10. All we need are


    3 data points

    for each work item

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  11. How long will it take?
    Start
    Single Item Forecasts
    Cycle Time: The total elapsed time it takes a
    work item to travel from start to
    fi
    nish
    Finish

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  12. Finish
    Start
    (Finish Date - Start Date) + 1

    You can substitute Date with a different unit of time
    Single Item Forecasts
    Cycle Time: The total elapsed time it takes a
    work item to travel from start to
    fi
    nish

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  13. 85% of work took
    16 days or less
    50% of work took


    7 days or less
    Use a Cycle Time Scatterplot to calculate probabilities

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  14. Wrong as much
    as right…
    Contains too
    many outliers
    Just the right
    balance?
    Choose a probability
    99%
    by understanding your risk tolerance
    Ask: What is the fallout if we fall
    outside of the probability?

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  15. 85% of the time we finish a

    work item in 16 days or less

    (from the day it starts)
    Deliver your forecast probabilistically

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  16. The underlying rule of thumb

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  17. Finish
    Start
    When will
    they all be
    done?
    Multiple Item Forecasts
    Throughput: The total count of items that pass the
    de
    fi
    ned
    fi
    nish point in a given unit of time

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  18. But you need a Monte Carlo Simulation
    to calculate the probabilities
    A Throughput Run Chart will show you the data

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  19. There’s an 85%
    chance that we will
    f
    inish these 45 items
    on or before May 25
    Monte Carlo for Fixed Scope (When?)

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  20. There’s an
    85% chance that
    we can
    f
    inish


    67 or more items
    by then
    Monte Carlo for Fixed Date (How Many?)

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  21. Monte Carlo even works for your portfolio

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  22. • When more than one outcome is possible,
    probabilistic forecasts are necessary.


    • Probabilistic forecasts show risk in 2 ways:

    a probability (%) and a range.


    • Choose a % that matches your risk tolerance


    • You can do everything manually, but tools exist to
    help you create these forecasts in minutes.
    Key Takeaways

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  23. https://55degrees.se
    Stay in touch
    /company/55degrees
    @55degreesAB
    @55degreesAB
    /55degreesAB
    /c/ActionableAgileAnalytics

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