Project Management

What metrics do PMOs measure?

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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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Categories: metrics, PMO


PMI and PwC did a survey on metrics and measurement on projects. You can read it online: Measuring What Matters.

I had a conversation about measurements recently with a PMO leader who wanted to understand how best to talk about what her team did. So are there any insights in the report that will help you if you are in a similar situation?

I think there are. Here are four of the key things that are worth looking at.

1. Measure more things

The survey points out that the top 10% of PMOs measure more than the average PMO. Quite a lot more: they tend to have 10 measures on average compared to only 7 in lower performing environments. Of those 7, generally the researchers found that 4 were linked to the classic project management iron triangle of time, cost, quality, scope.

Those metrics don’t really tell you anything about how the project landed in the organisation or whether the right project was done at all. Success in the eyes of strategic integration and execution is not often to do with whether you hit a budget baseline – especially if that budget changed during the project and was rebaselined to your new forecast anyway.

2. Make measures more effective

The research points out that there are two considerations for effective measures:

  • Making sure you are using the right measures
  • Implementing them appropriately.

The right measures for one project might not work on another project. Again, we see the fact the project management needs to be tailored in order to get the best results, and the PMO reporting is no different.

Some measures are worth capturing regardless: were you on time, did you deliver what was expected? But outcome-related measures like customer satisfaction, risk management and operational impact probably need to be tweaked for each project.

If you can’t tweak the measure itself, at least let project managers choose from a list of metrics so they can select how to report on the project in the most appropriate way.

3. Involve the right stakeholders

The PMI research shows that only 63% of organisations with a PMO use the PMO team as part of the development for metrics. Which begs the question: who is setting project measurements if it isn’t the PMO?

It seems to be middle management, as only 39% involve the C-suite execs. I think we can conclude that project sponsors or senior leaders decide what success will look like and what should be managed without linking into strategy or what’s actually practical and possible to measure as good practice (via the PMO).

When you adopt metrics on your projects, question where they came from. Are they part of an organisational standard created by the PMO with appropriate stakeholder input or did your boss just tell you to do it?

4. Use more tech-enabled solutions

The final takeaway from the PMI study into PMO metrics is about increasing the use of tech to measure effectively. Many online tools help you measure the impact. Whether you have advanced strategy execution tools or a simple online survey, tech opens doors to be able to repeatably and reliably collect data to help us assess success.

Many PPM tools collate data by virtue of the fact that we use them everyday for project management and scheduling. You can extract data about timelines, resourcing and budgets that helps inform future projects. However, it seems like budget is a barrier to investing in the tech that will help us do our jobs better. If you’re still stuck on spreadsheets, keep lobbying the powers that be for a better solution!

Posted on: September 01, 2022 08:00 AM | Permalink

Comments (3)

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The problem with measuring things is getting to the underlying data. Often new metrics need new data sources and/or data collecting processes. Make sure your metrics make sense: I've had outcome indicators created before a project that were meaningless by the end of the project.

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