As you will see, I'm completely new to PM.

I have to write 100,000 words in 6 months. Let's say that is 548 words/day. I would like to know how to calculate a daily target of words needed to complete on time. What method do I use to calculate this moving target based on my performance in each previous week while spreading out/smoothing(?) the required load over the next week in order to avoid difficult peaks in demand and still reach my target?

To add further complexity, how would I control the daily rate/smoothing based on the average velocity achieved in the previous week?

Sorry I cannot describe this in statistical/PM terminology, I simply couldn't find the name of this function/problem/method.


3 Answers 3


Your target is not changing. But you are expecting performance variances, right? Assuming a straight line plan, you are expecting 548 words a day over six months. Simply graph that cumulatively over the six months. For each day, enter the actual words, also cumulative, and compare the plan with actual. The calculation for your performance variance is actual words - planned words. Your schedule variace can be calculated by comparing where you are on a specific day with where you should have been. For example, on day 32, your plan says you should have been at 17,536. However, your actual is only 15,344, which is day 28 performance. This would mean that you are accruing a 4 day unfavorable variance at completion. You can use Earned Schedule techniques to estimate how many days late you will be assuming the same level of performance. You can also calculate from here what you need to perform to catch up. I do not think you have to make it any more complex than this.

  • 1
    I would add that if one plans a project then you have to consider vacations, some uncertainty and risks. I feel like the daily average calculation doesn't give too much flexibility. I would plan the 100000 words for 90% of the whole period and have 10% for buffers
    – Zsolt
    Mar 8, 2012 at 13:49
  • Yes, agree. I was focusing on the measurement of performance, not the planning of it. But great point. Mar 8, 2012 at 14:04

Your plan also doesn't account for editing that may reduce the number of words (or lines of code!) Days like this may need to be included in the calculation.

You might be better off with a more coarse measurement to track completeness, such as chapters.


Just wondering... wouldn't you be searching for a Earned Value-like technique?

  • Exactly!! Earned Schedule, in this case, I think would work perfectly. I tried describing that below. Mar 8, 2012 at 14:42
  • Thans Tiago, that is the one.
    – Edan
    Mar 11, 2012 at 12:21
  • Hi @MachuPichu, if your question is answered, worth take 2 minutes to read this link... that helps a lot our community. meta.stackexchange.com/questions/5234/…
    – Tiago Cardoso
    Mar 12, 2012 at 0:25

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