Create your unique blend of project metrics
Business leaders and project managers are familiar with popular project management KPI’s and metrics. There are more insights outside these standard measures. Your organization or business phase will enjoy a mix of insightful metrics.
This list helps navigate your work goals through the highest metrics performance mix. The leaders of today’s business environment need fast paced and accurate data. This data needs to be high impact insights that embrace project management based work.
The age of analytics
This is the age of analytics. This trend helps every business that is willing and capable of embracing their opportunities. The metrics I offer in the below list have a goal of clarity. The aim is to boost employee engagement and focus on achievable goals.
Projects help define the priority and direction of a business. The metrics help you understand the true impact of their achievements.
High impact Less Utilized Project Metrics
1. Number of project completions per year
The key for this metric is in its description. Literally the number of projects that have been completed per financial year cycle. Too frequently leaders have an oversight of how many projects are “on the go” or can recall a couple of the key successful projects, but how many actually record this figure? My experience within small medium enterprise companies is this absolute number helps culture change and provides insights often missed.
2. Percentage of projects with non-positive ROI in year 1, 2, 3
Critical thinking still has a while before it successfully penetrates every level of management and leadership decision. Detailing this metric, it provides deep insights to financial value of projects. The control and use of this metric helps maintain the correct balance between “feel good” projects and hard monetary return.
3. Percentage of successful projects
I surprised how often this is not defined or measured across a business. This measure of specific help for C suite decision makers. It helps provide information to help steer resources and skills to departmental areas that have a low performance show in this metric.
4. Deviation of net present value (NPV)
A key financial measure to understand the risks and exposure the business is placed under during and after project implementations. As external events occur this metric can provide early warning signals to help steer the pace, resource or priority of activities.
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5. Percentage of profitable projects
The clarity of this metric seems at first to be an obvious common metric, however I see time and again it is over looked by companies preferring to display and show other vanity metrics to match the cognitive bias within some leaders. More often a headline bottom line will be displayed as various projects are pooled together to provide an “overall picture”. However, smarter initial project selection could benefit the business most through management of this metric.
6. Number of milestones missed
A great developmental metric for project management improvement is this metric. Too often, minor metrics or project completion level metrics are used to highlight or hide issues. By selecting this metric there is clear scope for quality review, signal warning signs to pool resources and improve project implementation.
7. Number of templates and tools available for the project team
This requires a clear internal definition for the words template and tool but is a powerful metric to help control effective quality working practices across the whole organization. The need to train for their implementation helps support the overall awareness, skills and competency across a business.
8. Percentage of “killed” projects
A hidden metric gem! This provides outstanding insight to cultural attitudes, competency of project leadership and business leadership. A very powerful metric when dealing with silo attitudes within a company and significant help to provide true insights to productivity levels of project teams.
9. Percentage of milestones missed
Although similar to the number of missed milestones, this provides a statistical representation that supports the actual number. It helps provide supportive insights to project quality and target key areas of improvement. In addition it can be a great tool to provide targets of improvement.
10. Percentage of time coordinating projects
The measurement of time can be subjective, however using blocks of time helps provide insights to productivity and effective time management. This metric not only helps provide time resource demands but can also highlight specific priority or communication challenges within a business.
11. Average number of interdependencies per project
This seldom measured number is a powerful leadership tool for helping change management. At times when dealing with mergers and acquisitions, new organizational structures or cultural change, targeting this metric will help leadership stimulate teamwork and implement change at execution level.
12. Break even time
This is a powerful method to help business focus with a financial clear goal. Project selection methods based on break even time can significantly reshape a business performance at a heart-beat.
13. Deviation of planned break-even time
One thing is to measure your break-event time; another is to measure the deviation from the expected time! Especially of keen interest to your financial director but also helps provide insights to effective management and any “sand bagging” within time lines of projects.
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14. Deviation of planned time schedule for project
“The plan has changed!” A frequent announcement and a new norm are established. Creating an overview of deviations from planned times per project helps define core issues and challenges. This metric turns a “what” status of time into a “why” question by all those engaged.
15. Project manager turnover
HR metrics are frequently business or department wide. Creating a clear metric on this metric it helps understand deeper challenges and conditions for the work being conducted. Leaders can use this information to stimulate new interest in project workers and reasons for their success or failure rates.
16. Number of approved methodologies used in project
Helping create standards and quality this metric helps a business migrate towards consistency and best practice performance, whilst keeping an eye for positive maverick performance and potential changes.
17. Number of conflicts requiring escalation outside of the project team
Silo attitudes and effective management styles can be measured in their methods of interacting with projects. Here is one basic tool to help document the challenges and help leaders find future solutions.
18. Average time to resolve issues (Internal + External)
The willingness and sense of urgency in issues resolution can cost money and considerable impact to the ultimate success or failure of any project. By measuring the time to resolve such issues, this can help change the empowerment of project teams, improve project completion time accuracy and discover priority conflicts or methods of communication across a business.
19. Average annual project expenditures
All areas within a business should come under budget control; this simple metric helps highlight your project related costs clearly as a whole.
20. Average project resource costs
Measuring true ROI requires an accurate understanding of all costs. This metric provides the manager with a financial guide for past, current and future budgeting effectiveness.
21. Number of changes to the cost baseline
There are many projects the “become good”. The amount of retrospective changes to project numbers often hides challenges and true bottom line results. This metric helps audit part of the project understanding of costs and management during the whole process. An effective metric for improving managers true and total cost awareness.
22. Number of workarounds required
Most worthy projects face significant challenges that hopefully have been identified up front. Measuring the number of unforeseen events that require a contingency or change helps identify future skills development, planning and risk planning.
23. Percentage of accuracy of the cost estimate
Part of budget tolerance risk management is this power insight. The simplicity of this metric provides future planning plus project manager skill and development levels. A great way to monitor and place credibility and confidence for business decisions.
24. Sum of costs of “killed” projects
A significantly overlooked metric that helps leaders understand the true costs and profitability from projects embraced by the business. Too often, power points will display the headline figures and provide skewed opinions of overall project activity.
25. Number of milestones missed
Proactive managers will have this figure already, however communicating the figure and ensuring it is collected across all business areas is important. This provides insights and supportive facts to many areas impacting other metrics.
26. Number of unstaffed hours
Clear priority definition is required. The metric can be used as a measure of unproductive time where staffing was expected, the number of hours outsourced or the number of hours saved after the project is completed. With such a range of interpretations, ensure clarity and a system of measure is agreed.
27. Percentage of projects “in control”
This requires tolerance bands of error/success criteria to define what is “in control” but once done the measure is a fantastic tool to provide swift confidence and highlight resource areas needed to generate success. Often used within a simple traffic light parameter.
28. Percentage of projects with scope changes
Understanding at all levels that project scope is a natural course for most companies, it is equally important to recognize its impacts. This provides clarity of business strategy, it's support, competence and discipline across project influence.
29. Percentage of understaffed projects
Possibly the most controversial on this list! Staffing levels need to be justified and competency levels defined to generate an accurate understanding of this measure. The benefits this provides management and a leader is clear to help productivity performance oversight and identify resource gaps.
The approach to work differs from business to business and frequently from culture to culture. This fact when combined with a range of skills and methodologies adopted by practitioners of business objectives provides unique opportunities and challenges. The list of metrics provided here offers the leader and manager a systemic approach to review current performance with new perspectives.
Adopting a mix of these ideas and using them to improve your business model and skills is the shared intent and drive for this article. Too often I see companies stuck in a linear progression or worst, a position of stale mate or retreat with projects. Creating fresh insights of current practices offers the best methods to define a new direction for positive results.
Let me know which less used metrics you have found most insightful for your projects and business.
Find out how JAMSO uses the power of metrics to help business here and also grab a copy of the slideshare version of this article below.