Use DICE to beat the odds

Successful project management use DICE factors to beat the odds.

Ask four different project managers what are the critical factors of successful delivered projects and you will probably get four different answers. This is because they each would have different lessons learned from their own experience.

Extensive research by the Boston Consulting Group found a correlation between the outcomes (success or failure) of change programs and four hard factors – referred to as DICE factors: duration between project reviews; performance integrity or the capability of the project team; commitment of both management and staff; and additional effort involved in implementation. Although originally developed at BCG, this has now become widespread in project and program management offices.

The DICE Factors

D: Duration: the time between reviews is critical to the success of a project – the time between reviews should not exceed eight weeks, and be more frequently for complex problems. Setting milestones for major actions is key to the process.

I: Integrity: the project team’s ability to complete a project to time, cost and quality requirements.

C: Commitment: levels of support, composed of two factors:

  •   C1 backing from senior management for the change/project
  •   C2 support from staff involved in implementing the change

E: Effort: how much effort will it require to implement (beyond business as usual)

Calculating DICE scores

Calculate scores for each of the four factors of the DICE framework on a scale from 1 to 4; with 1 being good, and 4 not good.

Duration (D): if time between project reviews is less than two months, score 1 point; between two and four months 2 points; between four and eight months 3 points; and more than eight months apart 4 points.

Integrity (I): if the project team is led by a highly capable leader who is respected by peers, if the members have the skills and motivation to complete the project on time, and at least 50% of the team’s time is assigned to the project, score 1 point; if the team is lacking on all those dimensions 4 points; somewhere in between 2 or 3 points.

Senior Management Commitment (C1): if management has clearly communicated the project outcomes, score1 point; if neutral, 2 or 3 points; if limited support 4 points.

Staff Commitment (C2): if staff support project 1 point; if just willing, 2 points;. if reluctant or strongly reluctant, 3 or 4 points.

Effort (E): if the project requires less than 10% extra work, score 1 point; 10% to 20% extra 2 points; 20% to 40% 3 points; more than 40% additional work, 4 points.

DICE Project Score = D + (2 x I) + (2 x C1) + C2 + EDICEChart

  • Score 7 to 14: project is very likely to succeed: Win Zone.
  • Score 14 to 17: risk to project success is rising: Worry Zone.
  • Scores over 17: project is extremely risky: Woe Zone.

Use BCG’s online  DICE calculator : http://dice.bcg.com/dice.html

Because you get a hard number you can do an objective comparison of one project with other projects or past projects. It also allows you to focus on the areas needing attention, based on past experience as to the factors that result in success (or failure).

Track portfolios of projects

You can compare the DICE score during the project to help senior management identify where they may need to intervene, as well as determine which of a portfolio of projects they need to focus their attention. Reviews by different senior executives on the project board will result in a dialogue when scores differ and focus on the areas of concern, using a common language.

The advantages

The DICE factors provide a constant means of measuring the potential and actual success in implementing a project. It is simple and based on extensive research, enabling a common language.

The disadvantages

DICE factors do not deal with less objective measures such as strategic vision, leadership, culture and motivation. The scoring is a subjective approach.

The DICE factors provides a basis for the independent review of individual and portfolios of projects to ensure their success. It provides a simple and consistent means of review. Check it out.

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