Project management metrics are fundamental to implementing sustainable project management practices and processes in any organization.
The key is to keep them simple and relevant to the organization.
Project management metrics are also central for improving the way projects are managed and delivered, as well as showing improvements over time in project management maturity.
Project management metrics help to:
- Measure and understand the maturity of the organization
- Manage projects and resources more effectively
- Show performance improvement over time
All metrics should be:
- Simple and logic for the organization
- Clearly, correctly and unambiguously measurable
- Supported by real data
There are some key requirements and guidelines for the consistent implementation and measurement of the project management metrics and these are:
- Repeatable and sustainable project management processes
- Process compliance monitoring
- Data collection through the use of a project management tool
- Timely and unambiguous communication of the baseline and any subsequent changes in metrics or the data collection process
- Not having too many metrics, especially if they are similar
The implementation of the project management metrics will have to address some challenges that need to be managed with appropriate processes and controls:
- As compliance improves, figures may not change or show improvement initially
- If the metric definition or measurement process is changed, data from previous years should be recalculated.
- If the base data changes, the metrics also change and must be recalculated.
6 relevant metrics for project management
Several project management metrics can be defined according to the objective and complexity of a project.
However, the following six metrics generally encompass the most important measures:
- Productivity: this metric allows project managers to measure the use of a project’s resources. Compare the total effort with the planned effort, which has a direct impact on profits. Delays in timing, staff or supplier under-performance and unavoidable circumstances can affect productivity metrics.
- Project scope: the project scope is usually defined directly, but changes and additions can shift even the efforts of the best project manager. You need to keep track of change requests to control them and keep the project on time and within budget.
- Quality and customer satisfaction: quality assurance is a real customer-oriented metric. Ensuring low defects throughout the project, as well as acceptable quality in the end, should be one of the goals of every job. Early detection of defects can also help prevent the failure of the whole project. Don’t forget that customer satisfaction in a project is always essential.
- Employee satisfaction: just as the end customer must be satisfied, so must the employees and team members working on the project. The morale of employees is directly related to the success of the project. Research has shown that a satisfied employee works better and more efficiently. High employee turnover costs, ranging from 50% to 200% of an employee’s salary, should also be sufficient reason to care about people working directly on a project. Here you can find good suggestions on how to motivate the project team.
- Cost: cost analysis and management is often vital to the success of a project. Cost management is related to other variables, such as quality, scope and productivity, so if it varies above or below projections, the project may be affected. Typically, costs are closely observed throughout the project, so if costs increase unexpectedly, variables such as scope or time are adjusted and the project can still achieve its objectives.
- Gross margin: Normally, the final objective of a project is to contribute to the organization by increasing its profits. The gross margin is the difference between the total income generated and the total costs spent on the project. A project should have a target gross margin established in the planning phases of the project and should be measured throughout the project life cycle. Project managers who reach or even exceed the target gross margins are often extremely valuable.
Monitoring these six project management metrics can help project managers gain greater control and, consequently, a better chance of success.
Project metrics implementation
Once the metrics have been clearly established to meet an organization’s needs, it’s time to start implementing them.
The first step is to communicate with all stakeholders to help them understand the process, its significance and how metrics can help improve projects.
Providing clear examples and creating a metrics plan with guidelines that everyone understands can help clarify ideas and prevent delayed information.
So, once all these steps are taken and everyone is on the same page, you can start implementing the plan.
Throughout the process, it is also crucial to correct the plan when identifying unusable metrics.
Finally, implementing project management metrics can build historical data to help improve future planning and allow for comparisons.
As you accumulate project metrics in your organization’s portfolio, you are building a valuable database of internal benchmarking data.
These metrics can be compared with other projects in the same organization to see where process improvements can be made or compliance requirements can be introduced.
In addition, you can also compare the metrics with reference data from other companies in the same market.
The final challenge is to ensure that the project status includes metrics that prove the value of project management.
And as Peter Drucker said half a century ago: “If you can measure it, you can improve it”.