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Project Management 101: What is the DICE Framework?

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The DICE framework is a tool to help assess how likely a  change management  initiative or project is to succeed. It was developed by the Boston Consulting Group, a management consulting firm, in the mid-1990s in an effort to develop a more effective approach to change management. DICE has been adopted by over a thousand companies and PMOs since.

How Do I Compute DICE?

DICE works by measuring four factors, each of which is a letter of the acronym:

Duration: This is the  duration of the project is measured. In addition to measuring an entire project, this can either be the total duration of a number of shorter projects, or the time between two milestones of a larger project.

Integrity: “Integrity” is a rating of the organization or team’s ability to complete projects on time, and/or their skill relative to the project’s requirements.

Commitment: Here, the senior managers (C1) and employees (C2) are rated separately on their  commitment  to making the change happen.

Effort: This takes into account the actual effort that employees need to exert  in addition to their current workload.

Each factor is given a rating of 1 to 4, with 1 being the most optimistic rating, and 4 being the most pessimistic. The actual DICE equation is:

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

How Do I Use DICE?

The results are divided into different categories based on potential risk. The categories are divided into the following zones:

Win Zone: Projects with a score of 7 to 14 are very likely to succeed.

Worry Zone: Projects between 14 to 17 are risky, and need immediate action to attenuate the  risk.

Woe Zone: Projects that score over 17 are highly likely to fail, and need decisive action if they are to be salvaged.

Because you get a hard number at the end of a DICE review, you’re able to do an objective comparison of this project or phase with other projects with a DICE rating. You can even track a project’s score over time to see if any procedural or organizational changes you make are effective.

DICE Pros

As I already mentioned, having a hard number makes it easier to compare score with other projects or phases being measured. This also makes it easier to communicate project risk to other parties who may not be as familiar with the project and more easily influence their decisions on resources or project schedule.

DICE Cons

Despite the use of hard numbers, the DICE equation is based entirely on subjective factors, and two people may rate the same project differently. Also, DICE only uses the four aforementioned elements and doesn’t take other “soft” factors, like motivation, management leadership, and organizational culture, into account.

But even with these setbacks, DICE provides at least some way to predict and assess the risks involved with change management. And the more you use DICE in your change management projects, the better you’ll get at rating the different factors, and the more accurate your DICE project scores will become.

Image credit, Flickr,  W. Robert Howell

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