Project Management

How To Build A Project Scorecard

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A blog that looks at all aspects of project and program finances from budgets, estimating and accounting to getting a pay rise and managing contracts. Written by Elizabeth Harrin from GirlsGuideToPM.com.

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How do you track the KPIs for your project? If it’s a short project with only a handful of metrics, maybe you don’t.

But for larger projects, or those with many moving parts, it’s handy to be able to monitor progress against a selection of measures that you have agreed with your sponsor or PMO.

While many project management tools offer dashboards built in, these can only track the measures that are included in the system. So if you want your project scorecard to be part of your wider project dashboard, then you’ll need to find a way to get that data in somehow.

Bear that in mind as you work out what to include in your scorecard.

Here’s how to get a project scorecard set up for your project.

Step 1: Define what to track

A scorecard should include a number of metrics for your project, but only those that are going to be relevant for the whole project lifecycle. Otherwise for large chunks of your project you’ll be reporting 0%.

Equally, make sure you can get the data. If you can’t actually access end user customer satisfaction scores month on month, then there’s no point including it as a measure. If it’s genuinely important, you’ll have to find a way to get access to the data – your sponsor is the person to tap for information here.

So what can you use? Here are some generic scorecard metrics which will work for most projects:

  • Internal and external audit results
  • Achievement against quality targets
  • Benefits (only if these are going to be realised incrementally, otherwise your scorecard is going to be blank for a lot of your project)
  • Achievements against milestones
  • Customer (internal and external) satisfaction
  • Staff/team satisfaction
  • Measures relating to earned value calculations
  • Budget figures such as running costs, estimate at completion
  • Resource allocation or staffing levels against target

You can probably see how these could fit into nice groups: quality, project team, project costs/benefits, project delivery. It helps to group your measures because then you can compare progress in rolled up categories month on month.

Whatever you choose, remember that your project stakeholders will probably ask for 25% more information to be added at some point and that you have to keep this up to date. Automate as much as possible!

Step 2: Set targets

It’s fine to have your measures defined, but what does good look like? A quality result of 80% might be good or bad, depending on whether you’re building an aeroplane or something that’s going to be thrown away in a few months and is a quick and dirty solution to a small problem.

Work with your sponsor and team to work out what acceptable targets are for each of the measures and then establish how these are going to be incorporated into your scorecard.

For an online project dashboard, you might have this set up already. If you are using a spreadsheet, Red, Amber/Yellow, Green makes a handy and commonly-used (so easy to understand) distinction between what’s on target and what’s not.

Make a note somewhere of how you are calculating the metric. This has caught me out before. Last month’s score was 35% but I had no idea what went in to make up that number so I couldn’t easily replicate it. It took a little while of fiddling with last month’s figures to work out how I had arrived at 35%!

Save yourself some time and write it down.

Step 3: Populate the measures

Yep, now it’s time to do the work.

Run the formulae, pull the data, populate the tables. Get your information into the scorecard.

Now sense-check it to ensure it’s not wildly off before anyone else sees it.

Step 4: Communicate the results

You’ve got something to share, so it’s time to share it.

Be prepared for your sponsor to want to tweak how things appear, maybe changing the targets or how they are reported. This is normal… and will probably happen a lot!

Work with your senior team and executives until you have a version that works for you all.

Step 5: Watch for trends

Build in a way to archive old results or present a ‘last month/this month’ view so that you can track trends. That’s the disadvantage of ‘real-time’ project dashboards in project management tools: you often don’t get the ability to capture what the report looked like last month to give you that comparison, which is so important with KPIs. Ideally, everything should be tracking upwards.

Finally, remember that the data is there to inform what you do in your job and the decisions you make. It’s interesting, but really it’s most helpful to prompt action. So your quality scores are low? What are you going to do about it? Plan some time each month to dig into your data and plan out how best to respond as a team.

Posted on: January 19, 2017 11:59 PM | Permalink

Comments (19)

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Scorecards or dashboards, every PM needs an easy to understand and simple graphic to communicate project status. I really like your simple approach Elizabeth. Thought out and easy to understand. Thank you!

Good points, thanks for sharing.

Thanks for Sharing!

Excellent resource. Thanks for sharing.

Thank you for sharing your approach Elizabeth, great to apply!

Nice application of an existing Business Intelligence and Analytics concept to project management !!

Very interesting article ......

Logical PDCA cycle. Simple, pragmatic approach. Thanks for the article.!

Thank you for sharing

Thanks for sharing

Hi Elizabeth, Such a valuable sharing, Thank you very much, without this great framework I realised I have applied 80% of your recommendation in my Project Governance Scorecard, the theme is Benefits Scorecard to measure the progress :)

Thank you once again.
- Ganesh

Thanks, everyone. Glad you are finding it useful.

Thanks Elizabeth. Provide a lot with a little. Now, how to share it out, but that is another conversation :)

Good points, thanks for sharing.

Very good article. Clear and pragmatic. Thanks!

Thank you for sharing. We use similar approach to set up our project scorecard.

Great info Elizabeth thanks a lot. Do you have any scorecard you can share as an example?
Regards

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