The SRI Early Alert System is a project reporting system for
identifying problems early in a project while there is still time to take
effective corrective action. The SRI Early Alert System combines a proven project reporting
methodology with techniques from artificial intelligence (Gister-CL) to automatically assess the need for
management intervention in large projects. The system encourages honest
assessment and reporting on the part of project leaders, while providing
upper management a clear and concise report that pinpoints problematic
aspects of projects within the company portfolio.
- Supplements the regular monthly reporting system by collecting
evidence on project progress versus plan
- Establishes a channel of communication between project leaders
and their management to identify and resolve problems early
- Establishes a regular monthly assessment of a project portfolio
- Encourages a constructive, positive environment in managing
projects and resolving problems
Unlike other project management reporting systems, the SRI Early Alert System establishes an
efficient communication channel between project leaders and upper
managemet. It requires very little time to either fill out the monthly
questionnaires or review the project reports, yet the SRI Early Alert System collects and reports
the information needed for early identification and resolution of potential
problems. The primary benefit of this methodology is that projects can be
replanned at a much earlier stage, thereby making better use of resources
and improving results.
Using the SRI Early Alert System methodology, a baseline plan is established upon project
initiation. Project data is collected on a monthly basis with each project
leader filling out a short (electronic) questionnaire of multiple choice
questions. This questionnaire is designed to encourage a thoughtful review
of key success criteria in two broad areas: resource utilization and
operational adequacy of results. It requires the project leader to make
both qualitative and quantitative estimates of the likelihood of project
success relative to the baseline plan. The SRI Early Alert System (based
upon Gister-CL) is used to automatically analyze
this data, identify early signs of problems, and produce (paper or
electronic) reports highlighting the problematic aspects of each project,
including if these can be resolved by the project leaders or whether upper
management intervention is required.
The intended use of an SRI Early Alert System report is analogous to that of a warning light
on an automobile dashboard. It signals an incipient problem, early enough
to allow for corrective action, prior to costly damage. The SRI Early Alert System is intended
to augment a preexisting operational reporting system in the same way that
warning lights augment operational guages in an automobile.
The SRI Early Alert System organizes project reporting information into a hierarchy of three
levels. The top level is the executive summary and answers two general
questions concerning project status:
The intermediate level consists of four supporting questions for each of
these two questions. The lowest level consists of 24 answers, provided by
the project leader, three for each intermediate question. Each of these
answers is interpreted as evidence for the answer to the intermediate
question that it supports, which in turn is treated as evidence regarding
the answer to one of the two final conclusions. A Gister-CL analysis is used to
fuse the evidence,
collected from the project leader, to arrive at the intermediate and final
conclusions concerning project status.
- how well is the project being managed, and
- will project results meet the operational requirements?
John D. Lowrance,
Artificial Intelligence Center
SRI Early Alert System, SEAS, Gister, and Gister-CL are trademarks of
Copyright © 1995 SRI International, 333 Ravenswood Ave., Menlo Park, CA 94025 USA.
All rights reserved.