Project Management

3 Metrics For Project Manager Performance

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I’m frequently asked for insights on performance measurement criteria for project managers. This comes as a bit of a surprise given how professional certification programs, such as PMI’s Project Management Professional (PMP®) certification, have brought more consistency to project management skills.


Organizations’ typical performance measurement framework for functional roles is focused on growth and results. But that framework is becoming less effective at measuring project managers.


Project managers differ from functional roles in that they perform their duties with definitive time periods, outside influences, ever-changing activities and a higher level of uncertainty.


At the same time, more and more companies are seeking both individual and aggregate project management performance measures. Aggregate measures provide insights into overall capabilities and indicate if improvement initiatives — training, methods, processes — are actually increasing project manager productivity.


I’ve spent some time thinking about how to improve measurement criteria for project manager performance. Here are three areas I believe must be included:


  1. Project Metrics: Companies go to great lengths to capture and share metrics on project performance. If that same data is analyzed based on a project manager, it serves as a current and historical view of project manager performance.


Over time, individual project manager metrics, such as schedule and budget, can be analyzed to show the project manager’s track record. Supplementary metrics, such as change control activity, deliverable finish date delays and cost of poor quality, can provide a complete picture of project manager performance.


By aggregating and averaging these metrics — as well as using other data points such as labor cost — the enterprise capability of project managers can be measured.




2. Project Manager Engagement Reviews: The ability of a project manager to successfully engage with stakeholders is a key success factor for projects. A high level of engagement allows for early visibility to potential delivery issues, as well as a stronger understanding of the success criteria for a project.


The most effective means to measure project engagement is to conduct a post-project review with the project’s primary stakeholder. As engagement is not a binary yes/no condition, open-ended questions allow for deeper insights into the project manager’s level of engagement. For example, probing when project managers anticipated potential project issues would help to reveal engagement. These reviews are not meant to be punitive, but instead to guide and educate.


In addition, the reviewer should also look at the engagement level of the primary stakeholder. It’s not uncommon to find unengaged stakeholders, which can lead to poor delivery results for which the project manager is unfairly held to account. A balanced view of both the project manager and stakeholder will give the reviewer a true measure of engagement.


  1. Project Manager Histories: Beyond capturing fundamentals of project manager experience, credentials and projects, capturing performance details of projects led by project managers is of great value.

When interviewing project managers, I ask them to complete a table of both project fundamentals as well as performance histories. This profile helps me determine what would be the next best project for them, thus enabling a better chance of delivery success.  

Capturing project performance data allows project managers to share successes, as well as provide rationale for when things might not have gone as well as anticipated. It serves as a platform for career growth.

A project manager that comes to an interview prepared with structured project histories is usually well prepared to take on the next level of projects.

In today’s world of ever-increasing project complexity and scale, both companies and project managers need to expand their demonstrated performance results beyond what is found today.  


How do you measure project manager performance? Do traditional performance measurement frameworks for functional roles continue to meet the need? 

Posted by Kevin Korterud on: November 03, 2017 05:05 PM | Permalink

Comments (24)

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Thanks for the article Kevin.

Performance is resultant on several factors as mentioned, though it seems as though engagement is not always one of them. I find engagement to be paramount in helping to facilitate other factors that lead to a projects 'success'.

Interesting approach to fill out a table as pointed out in #3. I'd like to see what that looks like.

Thanks, Kevin, for sharing your insights.

Performance metrics need to include 'value delivery' for PMs on my team. If you produce the wrong thing/a non-value-add thing, it doesn't matter how face or cheap it was.

In fact, I believe the hierarchy is something like:

1. Value delivery success
2. Success in building trust-based relationships
Expectation-setting success
3. Risk management success
4. Expectation-management success
5. Planned vs. Actual success in scheduling and budgeting

Hit enter too quickly/inadvertenty

1. Value delivery success
2. Success in building trust-based relationships
Expectation-setting success
Expectation-management success
3. Planned vs. Actual success in scheduling and budgeting
Risk management success
Scheduling and schedule management
Budgeting and budget management
Team formation and management

Hi all...thanks for the great comments. I was surprised when I did some research how little there was on this subject.

Hi Tim...n terms of engagement, I have seen a number of project managers who are great at the mechanics of project managers...but the ones that excel execute as a almost they are another stakeholder.

Value delivery I think is a great measure. However there are quite a few times where a project manager is handed an "ugly baby" project where the estimate, scope and schedule were really not that thought through. That situation is almost unfair to the project manager to recovery value starting from a bad position. our firm the list of project histories are used to help with career development.

Very much looking forward to addition comments! So much to do in this space...

You wrote:

"Value delivery I think is a great measure. However there are quite a few times where a project manager is handed an "ugly baby" project where the estimate, scope and schedule were really not that thought through. That situation is almost unfair to the project manager to recovery value starting from a bad position."

As you also said, good PMs execute/participate almost as a partner (my interpretation of your word). As such, when faced with a low-value project, they have the courage to tactfully express that the emperor has no clothes. Since defining value is the purview of the sponsor, the PM most often finds that there's little to no value in the questioning of the sponsor done to try to understand the value. Most often, in my experience, the sponsor winds up adjusting project parameters on her/his own in an effort to increase the value. The PM can then raise any necessary questions via project or portfolio governance, under the guise that the originally-approved parameters of the project have changed so materially that it needs reapproval. ...a little like project judo.

Interesting article, thanks for sharing

Hi Kevin

Here is my perspective on the 3 elements on project performance:

Item 1 – Project Metrics is a lagging indicator and it is most visible to the client. While PMI – PMBOK includes performance measurement metrics, the important metrics are determined by the client and the client’s internal systems that are integrated into a project management, scheduling and reporting system. Good or bad, the client will rate the PM's performance based on that system, whether reasonable or not. It will serve as a Lesson Learned for the consultant on future contracts with the client, which should translate to adjustments to future proposals.

Item 2 – Project Manager Engagement Reviews is also a lagging indicator but it is more tailored to the consultant rather than the client, and it appears to be a measure of the Project Manager’s action to assure client engagement. However, the best PM plans can not account for a client’s ability/inability to support the project. PMs can document all the proactive actions and efforts on the project but the PMs can not be accountable for a client that fails to engage and uphold its responsibilities to the project/PM. This item may also be used by the consultant to manage performance risks on future proposals/contracts with the client.

Item 3 – Project Managers Histories is a lagging indicator that the consultant may use to improvement the performance of its staff on future projects with the client and on projects similar is scope, schedule and budget. Consultant’s can use the histories for improving it internal training of PMs in managing projects and client relations. Additionally, the histories may be used to adjust future proposals with individual clients.

Scale for endearment performance of project Manager depends on types of organization , Authority given to project manager . Organizational process assets.

Thanks for interesting article.

This is an extremely interesting subject and I agree on the value of the metrics proposed by Kevin-in a perfect world. However, my experience is:
We all know what it takes for a PM to be successful in reality- Full Financial and Resource support will produce a high quality Construction Project On time and within Budget.
Cash$$ is the fuel for success in our Industry.
Unfortunately, without 100% support, it is extremely difficult to appraise the Skillsets of any Project Manager. The failure to achieve Procurement support and resource support will inevitably disturb the PM relationships with stakeholders and EVM's or KPI's.
Did the PM perform well in the Crisis Management of the Project despite a lack of support? Winning and Winners are easy to identify when everything is going great.
What is more difficult-in my experience- is identifying good candidate PM's through the more complex interview techniques and analysis that venture beyond the simple scorecard.

good read. thanks for sharing this article

Project Manager's performance should be measured on his engagement, ability to manage risk, scheduling and budgeting all together.

All...thanks for the great comments. These are sparking a few ideas around other project manager performance measures as well as some thoughts around screening questions. Getting the right fit of PM to project is so key to performance....

I will feature some of your comments at an upcoming regional PMI event in 2018....!

I would suggest doing stakeholder engagement reviews throughout the project. This is to allow to differences of project engagement. Trying to capture this at the end can be difficult.


I took a second read on the blog, and the discussion presented ideas related to project metrics, which would be the obvious criteria for client’s to assess the consultant PM’s performance. These metrics may not be the best gauge of the consultant’s performance.

While ideally, the responses suggest stakeholder feedback, it is usually not the case. The client’s representative is typically an assigned project manager from the organization. He would be the most likely source of feedback on the performance of a consultant’s PM under his management. As a result, the best way to ensure the client provides objective feedback is to assure the consultant’s PM demonstrates the core values trumpeted by the organization and the professional standards expected within the industry domain of the assigned project.

The consultant’s PM needs to respect opinions, acknowledge contributions, accept and implement ideas, share achievements, accept accountability to correct project performance, invest equal time contributing to the project deliverables, and coach the project team and stakeholders to resolve problems. Project team members, stakeholders, oversight consultants and the organizations management can influence how the organization’s PM assesses the performance of the consultant’s PM. In order to influence a positive assessment, the PM also needs to make personal connections with as many members of the project team, the organization’s administration and other outside participants. Above all, avoid being the most disliked person on the project.

The performance assurance process also involves the consultant’s supervisor maintaining contact with the organization’s PM, contract administrator and the PM’s supervisor. It a lot easier to ask the organization for a letter of recommendation citing positive performance, if there is a personal connection between the organization’s management and the consultant’s management.


As Tim Eiler pointed out, some projects start out on better footings than others. If metrics for cost and schedule are to be used to rate project managers, then there needs to be a way to normalize for quality of project initiation in cases where the PM is handed something that has already been specified and budgeted. True, the best PMs are pretty good at recovering a project from a lousy initiation - but probably not on the originally estimated scope, schedule and budget.

Hi all...thanks for the great comments. When I spoke w the PMI editor we both felt this topic would generate a lot of insights.

One underlying theme from the comments has to do w the timing of the PM joining the project. Earlier is better...I have seen many instances where the PM joins after the kickoff session...not the best timing!


I'd like additional information on how I can use this to evaluate my own professional development. Can you provide some examples?

Hi are a few:

For our internal tracking process with our training program we capture project metrics to be used to qualify a PM for advanced training.

We can use a survey form with stakeholders to capture the engagement level of project managers

For the project histories we capture budget, number of team members, suppliers, locations, integration points, change management complexity and other factors to better measure the breadth and depth of the projects undertaken by project managers

Such a big find me on LinkedIn and we can talk by phone sometime...

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