You probably measure a range of things on your project. I’ve seen PMOs track number of open risks, projects closed this month and other numbers that are pretty much meaningless out of context. Here are 5 ways to make your metrics work better and give you more useful information, inspired by the Measuring What Matters report from PMI.
1. Measure more often
A study by PMI and PwC found that only 41% of PMOs were consistently measuring and reviewing performance. If you don’t measure regularly, how can you monitor trends?
They also found that around half of PMOs spent time communicating to the C-suite about milestones and project impacts. I know that in some organisations the PMO doesn’t have a direct line to the execs (although I think they should). Improving the perception of the PMO relies on the right people having the right information.
Action: Make sure you have a regular schedule for measurement so you can capture and track trends.
2. Collaborate up the organisation
Another thing highlighted by the PMO study was that metrics are often set by people who are not the PMO and who are not C-suite execs. Whether you are a project sponsor, senior leader or project manager, make sure you involve the right people in the conversation about what should be measured.
More collaboration between the PMO and delivery teams and the executives responsible for setting strategy should mean that you are measuring stuff that demonstrates whether the organisation is getting closer to the strategic goals.
Action: Check your measures are in line with the strategic vision for the company and that the right people were involved in coming up with them.
3. Focus on outcome-based measures
Outcome-based measures are those that reflect what was achieved on the project in terms of deliverables and change. They are different from the project management measures of time, cost and scope. (Note: those are still useful, but they aren’t the only thing you should be tracking.)
Projects exist to deliver change. That’s what is important: the impact that the work has on the organisation.
Action: Review the measures you are using to track your project and see which of them are outcome-based. Is that enough?
4. Review measures regularly – and with the right people
Once your measures are set up, keep them under review. Make sure to get input from a wide range of stakeholders: those who are collecting data for the measure, those who are using the measure for decision-making, the PMO and the project team, along with anyone else who has a stake in the outcome.
Reflect on whether the numbers or results are telling you what you thought they would. Do they provide accurate, reliable data that can be applied to different projects in a meaningful way? If not, why? Perhaps the measures need tweaking to make sure they properly serve their purpose.
Action: Schedule time to reflect on the usefulness of the measures you have in place.
5. Define success
Finally, define what success looks like. What parameters for your metrics represent a ‘good’ score? Below what level would you need management intervention? What are the red flags that would push the project into an Amber or Red status?
Capturing data is one thing – but being able to use it is something else entirely. In addition, some of the more ‘fluid’ desirable outcomes like cultural change or customer satisfaction are harder to grasp with a single number. You might need to combine several metrics to get a full picture of the current performance levels.
Action: Review the parameters that trigger action for your measures.