Measuring In-Progress Project Performance

Measuring in-progress project performance is important so that potential problems can be identified as early as possible and so that stakeholders are made aware of progress. It is often a challenge to identify appropriate key performance indicators that actually measure what we really want to evaluate in regards to performance. Most people recommend choosing two to five KPI’s to properly gauge performance and to keep a high level view. It is important to remember that KPI’s are readings that enable stakeholders to assess how well the project is progressing in general against the stated objectives. It is often hard to measure the success of the project until long after the project has been completed.

Tracking the schedule and budget are critical KPI’s. However, it is important that these two are tracked together due to their tradeoff nature. Tracking discrepancies here allows the project manager to identify issues and drill down to resolve them quickly. More specific KPI’s, such as the number of scope changes and defects discovered during the project, can provide insight into the root causes of schedule and budget issues.

Another KPI to measure is the completion of quality deliverables. In order to effectively measure these, it is important that there is effective planning that clearly identifies critical tasks that need completed and what the specific requirements of each task are. Once these are identified and agreed upon, the project manager can track performance against these planned deliverables. These deliverables serve to link the required tasks to the schedule and give stakeholders an excellent pulse on project success.

The effort being expended by company resources is another important indicator. This can be very difficult to track and requires a disciplined approach. There are many types of technology that can assist with the tracking and reporting of time spent on a project by internal resources. Having this data can allow the project manager to track schedule compliance and better estimate completion dates. My company uses a software platform called Planview for all R&D projects.

Lastly, stakeholder satisfaction can be measured to assess how happy clients and team members are with the way in which the project is being managed and progressing. This data can speak to the responsiveness of the project team, the level of communication, the level of involvement, and the general feeling about the progress.

Combining these KPI’s and reporting them to stakeholders allows project managers to identify issues and deal with them proactively. Reporting these also allows the project manager to set expectations to stakeholders regarding the success of the project. What types of KPI’s have others used to track and report project performance?

Source: Pitagorsky, G. “Measuring In-Progress Project Performance.” Project Management Times. Project Management Times, 30 Jan. 2013.  Web. 18 Jul. 2015.

3 thoughts on “Measuring In-Progress Project Performance

  1. KPI’s have always been interesting for me. I have a job that extensively tracks KPI’s and measures success on them rather frequently. What i find to be rather unique, is that KPI’s can be built into almost anything, but its very easy to build the wrong KPI’s. For example, in my job, I work through the following process: find candidate(websites, in person, networking etc), present candidate to client’s open job position(a lot more detail can be put in here but it would detract from the point), client interviews candidate, client decides to extend offer to candidate or to decline candidate, candidate decides to accept or decline offer.

    I’m paid, on the last step. I’m KPI’d on every part of the cycle. But the only one that matters, is the last one. In my mind its great to connect and track performance, but if the KPI’s are not leading to the correct results, they’re not aligned properly. If me getting candidates to accept offers is not strongly associated with all the other activity, does it really make sense that our measurement criteria doesnt guarantee that outcome. It seems we’re putting measurements in place to track activity for the sake of activity as opposed to ‘productive activity’ that makes the goal happen.

  2. Timing article for me as I’m preparing with my GSB 599 group to think about our KPIs for our Capstone project. We have to list these out as part of our strategy before we start the simulation. We have looked at stock price and profits. It will be key to continue to track these measurements as part of simulation and keep a close eye on them as we have multiple factors that can distract us from them. Other KPIs that a company can look at are market share, return on sales, asset turnover, market cap, return of assets, and return on equity.
    My department is paid on profit of our division and profit of our overall company. Last year our division performed significantly better than the prior year but the overall company did not, which impacted our paid.

  3. This is a good article and it is important to understand the KPIs which drive the project. With previous comapnies we used metrics, charts and other tools to help give a quick look at the projects standing. We would use dollars/per hour to calculate the amount of work being done based upon % complete. This would give and outcome in a four quadrant chart to help decrepit the health of the project. Thank you very much for posting this article. I believed this was one of the reason my previous company was so successful at managing large projects. They would focus people specifically on the most expensive and high impact projects.

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