Project Management

7 Essential Project Performance Measures

Managing project performance is different from managing a team or a project. While people and projects count as ‘means’ to an end in this scenario, the PM who measures performance is effectively managing for ‘ends.’ Stacey Barr writes for PM Hut on how to tease out those key performance indicators, or KPIs. KPIs tend to hinge on some end result that benefits the business. According to Barr, there are seven.

Seven Core KPIs

  1. Direct impact
  2. Bottom line impact
  3. ROI
  4. On-time
  5. On-budget
  6. Stakeholder support
  7. Stakeholder engagement

The size of impact on a business is “the size of the difference between the level of performance before the project’s start time, and the level after the project’s end time.” Additionally, total cost must be lower than the ultimate value of the project – otherwise that value is effectively canceled out. Any cost that is salvaged is a boon to the project, in addition to returns on investment.

If project milestones (especially goalposts) remain constant, then you can also rely upon the common KPIs of on-time and on-budget. In stark contrast, project performance can be measured in terms of ‘intangible’ benefits derived from stakeholder buy-in too. By measuring the level of support and participation offered to a particular project, it is possible to measure these less concrete metrics.

Reviewing Barr’s list of seven, I think one can additionally group the metrics into three categories:

  • Financial
  • Project
  • Organizational

These groupings reflect the essence of project performance, which consists of a. a project, that must be b. driven to deliver financial rewards to c. its organization. Each category defines the nature of the metrics used to define progress. For instance, the project aspect will tend to hinge upon common project indicators, whereas organizational metrics are more difficult to define. Use the “list of seven” as a checklist to keep your project ahead of the curve, and you will realize greater project success.

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Eric Anderson

Eric Anderson is a staff writer for CAI's Accelerating IT Success. He is an intern at Computer Aid Inc., pursuing his master's degree in communications at Penn State University.

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