— 4 min read

Since the article "RAG rating in project management and status reports" became quite popular with tens of thousands of readers, I wanted to do a follow-up.

The original post stated:

The RAG system is a popular project management method of rating for issues or status reports, based on Red, Amber (yellow), and Green colors used in a traffic light rating system.

Traffic lights provide great variable insight using just 3 status types, which is why the system has been widely adopted in information dashboard design. It is understandable by most people, therefore offering designers an established set of guides for grouping data based on their status.

But often, when working with a complex system (like Weekdone), just 3 statuses are not enough. The need for expanding the original RAG came to us when updating the OKR features (more on that soon). An Objective can have 3 major statuses when a quarter has ended: Off track, at risk, and on track. But the latest update of Weekdone OKR software calculates OKR status automatically, in real time, based on completion and time that has passed since the beginning of a quarter. This means that the previously 3 values needed an extra, which would indicate that a person has exceeded the expectation for being on track.

So, on to expanding the traffic-light styled RAG color coding. We need an extra color. But where does it come from and how does it fit into the existing pattern that people are familiar with?

One might start with retaining the start and end values of the system (Red and Green), and trying to divide the middle (Amber) with 2 possible values, like this:

It definitely gets us 4 steps that are equally far from each other, but it does not show us Amber, so it breaks the established pattern.

For a second try, one might be tempted to subdivide the existing RAG colors, like this:

This version retains Amber, but equal color distance means we need to add a step between both Red-Amber and Amber-Green. This results in 5 possible states, which is not something we wanted.

In both above cases, the generated intermediate values become harder to distinguish from each other, and they don't answer the question that we want: to indicate something above status Green, not subdivide the established RAG logic.

Answering that question, we are proud to present an original: RAG+B colorcoding. It retains the integrity and readability of the established RAG system, and adds an extra color equally far in the color space, making it distinguishable from the original 3 that stay the same!

Most probably we dont want to use the original websafe colors, but map them with something nicer from our existing palette.


You can use the extended RAG+B system not only for classifying OKRs, but similarly to any set of items that have different states, where the original RAG wouldn't apply. Here are some examples:

RlowbadRedOff track
AmediumokAmberAt risk
GhighgoodGreenOn track
BextrasuperBlueExceed

 

A sneak peek of using the RAG+B system in Weekdone OKR report view. Expect more of this soon, to be consistently applied throughout Weekdone interface.