Project Management

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How to reduce your project’s carbon footprint

In December I looked at how to reduce your project’s carbon footprint and provided a few ideas you could take into consideration when you’re working on a project.

One of the questions I got asked on that article was how have I seen these sustainability practices implemented effectively in projects?

Sustainability practices are easier to implement if there is corporate-wide mandated practices and the expectation that you will manage your project and create products in a sustainable way, but let me share a little of my experience.

carbon footprint mindmap

Carbon savings

When working out project benefits, include carbon saving as one of the metrics you will track, as long as your project does something that will reduce carbon. This could be by digitalizing a process so less paper is used, removing paper cups from coffee machines and replacing them with a ‘bring your own reusable cup’ policy in your project office or something else.

I’m aware that digital solutions also have a carbon footprint in that they use energy and land as there are vast data centres behind the scenes of every virtual meeting, so you’ll have to draw your own conclusions about whether the savings you are claiming are ‘real’ or not.

Many companies are now very much focused on energy saving and the equivalent carbon saving this equates to, so someone in your organization is likely to be able to tell you what measures are used in the business to track and report on carbon usage. Talk to your energy manager or the sustainability team if you have one, or someone in Finance who could help you work out what, if any, carbon savings you can reasonably track.

Ideally, the project’s deliverables would have a benefit that demonstrates carbon reduction, but if not, you could look to track carbon usage related to managing the project itself, for example, you could track number of journeys that did not happen because you chose to meet virtually instead.

Paper usage and waste recycling

A very small thing you can do on your project is to make sure that the team does not use excessive paper. Stop printing project board decks and meeting agendas. Make these available on digital solutions instead.

Use digital thank you cards instead of real ones (although you’ll have to weigh up the value in a digital one – some how for me, a physical card feels like it means more).


I mentioned avoiding meetings where the journey would create a carbon emission – see how much travel it is possible to cut out of your project. There’s probably some.

Supply chain

Even if your project is not buying anything in terms of goods, there are probably some items that you end up procuring, for example, lunches for workshops. Choose local suppliers using locally-sourced products.

Ask questions of your suppliers and see if there are choices to be made.

Document your decisions

The easiest way to make sure that you are living your goals and managing to make a carbon impact is to ensure your project management plan and documentation includes the commitment. Put your metrics in your benefits tracker. Put targets in the quality plan.

Make sure your schedule includes any specific actions you are going to do as a team. What other suggestions do you have for reducing your carbon footprint as a project team? Let us know in the comments section below!

Posted on: January 24, 2024 08:00 AM | Permalink | Comments (10)

How to Use Alternative Metrics

Last month I looked at a range of alternative metrics for assessing success. One of the comments on that article asked how, on reflection, had I seen these or other alternative metrics implemented effectively. It also asked whether there were challenges that might arise integrating alternative metrics into existing project management frameworks (which I’ll look at in a different article).

So, if you want to implement a more nuanced approach to measuring project success, how do you put this into practice? Below are some ideas. This topic is one that we could probably speak (or write) about at length, but hopefully the examples and ideas I share will give you some starting points for incorporating a range of measures into your project management practice.

metrics for project success

  1. Customer satisfaction

This is an area where I have quite a lot of examples to share. In my book, Customer-Centric Project Management, my co-author and I describe an extensive exercise to set up customer satisfaction tracking on projects, with internal customers.

I’ve written about customer satisfaction measurement on this blog before (start with this article: Lessons about project metrics). Basically, find out what is important to people, then track that regularly and plot your scores as part of regular reviews.

You don’t have to use an ‘official’ CSAT mechanism, or pay for electronic survey tools. Just ask people as a minimum.

  1. Innovation level

I haven’t used an innovation score regularly throughout a project, but it has been included in the way we rate projects and prioritize which ones should be done as the requests come into the pipeline.

Implement an innovation score yourself on a simple Likert scale (1-5 or similar). Ideally, you don’t want the measure to be subjective, so set some criteria e.g.:

  • Number of tools used where the business has less than 1 year of experience using them
  • Years of experience of team implementing (as someone could have gained a lot of relevant experience in a different role)
  • Contractor level of experience rated on a scale of how many implementations they have done.

Or similar – you really only need a couple of measures to make up your innovation score. Use the innovation score as part of the decision criteria for whether a project should be taken forward or not.

  1. Resource utilization

Resource utilization reports are something I’ve only actively used on a couple of projects, because mostly we either haven’t had the tools to extract the data (because we aren’t doing timesheets or detailed estimates), or because staff have been 100% assigned to the project so we don’t have to worry about them splitting their time across projects. We would still have to worry about them being scheduled to do too many tasks in a week and being over booked, or under utilized, but when the team is full time somehow that’s easier to manage as you can see what they are doing and we speak every day.

Use the reports to check exactly that: is the team going to struggle to meet its commitments? And if it is, because staff are over-scheduled, what are you going to do about it?

Even the basic reports from Microsoft Project will give you utilization data, so take a look at what you already have within your tool suite and if you find it useful, use it.

  1. Risk mitigation effectiveness

The final one I’m going to talk about today is tracking risk mitigation effectiveness. I mentioned in the article that you could use AI-powered insights to establish the effectiveness of the risk management activities undertaken, but in reality I imagine that takes quite a lot of effort to set up.

Another way to do this would be at project closure, or during lessons learned conversations, whenever these take place in your project lifecycle.

Look at what the risk was and what was done to mitigate it. Score the risk based on the effectiveness of the action:

  • 1: Risk management activity was 100% successful and risk was closed
  • 2: Risk management activity was successful but residual risk was worth £x
  • 3: and so on.

Using residual risk (and specifically, a financial value of residual risk) is a way to establish how effective your management action was – or at least, it’s one way to create data that allows you to assess that.

Hopefully that gives you some pointers for measuring project success through different routes, with some more concrete examples of how to get started.

Posted on: January 22, 2024 03:46 PM | Permalink | Comments (5)

How to reduce your project’s carbon footprint

reduce carbon footprint

The sustainability agenda is something all aspects of business are thinking about, and project management is no exception. We all need to be working towards creating a more sustainable future, and making the right choices on our projects is definitely one way to do that.

The first step is to make sure sustainability criteria are included in your documentation templates. You can add sustainable and carbon footprint criteria to your business case templates.

Here are some suggestions for how you can consider reducing the carbon footprint on your projects.

Create a benchmark

Many companies these days have teams dedicated to energy management and sustainability, so your first point of call should be to check in to see what initiatives are already underway. If your carbon efforts are going to be officially recognised, you need to use official methods of calculating the reduction, with full transparency and a robust, proven measurement process in place.

Who in the team will be responsible for tracking and measuring carbon savings, and do you need any additional processes in place to make it happen?

A full approach like that might be overkill – if there is no expectation of having to save carbon, you might not want to go down the route of proving that you are in a measurable, transparent way. However, you can still follow the rest of the steps to brainstorm carbon-saving ideas with the team and build in carbon-friendly ways of working.

Review project tasks

Take a look at the work you are going to be doing on this project. Which tasks are going to generate a carbon calculation that can be measured? What tasks are going to generate carbon and what can you do differently?

Identify carbon reduction activities

From the work you are doing and the tasks identified, take a look at what extra actions you could to reduce the carbon impact. For example, are you planning to print a lot of leaflets or documentation? What could be delivered via a QR code or provided in digital format? What would still need to be created in paper format for a selection of users who would not be able to access digital content?

What journeys are going to be undertaken on the project? Perhaps there are some workshops that can be held virtually and training delivered online instead of in a classroom. There are many advantages to getting together in person, but you might be able to identify some elements of the project that would work remotely.

You can also look at the supply chain. Can you ask whether suppliers can deliver in a more sustainable way, such as with electric vehicles, or in recyclable packaging. What would that do to the budget, if anything?

Add tasks to the plan

Add your carbon reduction actions to your project plan. You might need to take specific actions, you might need to be more mindful of the way in which existing tasks are delivered.

Make sure each action has an identified owner.

Track and monitor progress towards your goal

Include carbon data in your reporting. If you are tracking according to your organisation’s metrics, then you might have some help from specialist teams who will know how best to report the data.

Otherwise, add some narrative to your reporting to allow you to share your success with others.

A lot of being smart with carbon on your project is just asking yourself the question: what can we do and are we doing things in the best possible way? Being aware of the challenges and helping others see that sustainability is a focus for you is key to keeping it on the agenda and making it part of the accepted ways of working.

Posted on: December 11, 2023 08:00 AM | Permalink | Comments (4)

7 Alternative Metrics for Assessing Success

We’ve all got metrics we use to assess project success: cycle time, earned value and so on.

As the year ends, maybe it’s time to look at some other measures we could use that might be a bit more… dare I say… interesting? Below, I’ve suggested 7 alternative metrics you could put in place (some easily, some would take more thought and set up) to look at what project performance really means in the round.

metrics for project success

  1. Customer satisfaction (CSAT)

You might find CSAT in use across other teams. Why not implement it for project management customers too? Even if you work in-house, you will have internal customers. Trust me, they have an opinion on the project management service you provide. Why not check in with them directly and ask for it?

You don’t need a formal CSAT tool. Set some survey questions and set up a form to ask stakeholders their views, and then collate the results.

  1. Time to Value (TTV)

Cycle time is worth knowing, but does the end of your cycle always end in value delivered? A different way of thinking about it would be time to value: how quickly the project delivers tangible value per feature, or perhaps overall.

This metric comes with the added challenge of having to define value: but that could be a very useful exercise for stakeholders!

  1. Innovation level

Could you create your own innovation index? There are already indices in use like the Global Innovation Index, but that’s probably overkill for our projects. Consider how innovative the product/deliverables are and the method used to implement them.

  1. Resource utilization

Here’s one you can probably get from your project management software but I don’t see it on reports very often. What could you take from a utilization report? Metrics are only helpful if there is something you can use them for, like decision support. In this case, it would be making sure the team is adequately resourced, so you really want to be looking forward not backward. Although historical data is useful too to see if there is a trend towards over or under staffing.

  1. Change adoption rate

Could you create a metric that looks at how quickly the organization is adopting new changes? If you work with a change manager, they might have some ideas about how to implement this. Any new process changes or anything that requires training could be included, even if your measure was only based on smiley faces!

  1. Sustainability impact

Your procurement team might already have a sustainability index based on their work with vendors and a sustainable supply chain. If you have an energy team, they might have measures you can pull into your projects too. For example, how much carbon saving your project is creating, or how much waste is recycled from different locations.

  1. Risk mitigation effectiveness

We mitigate risks, but are those actions really useful? We could draw on AI-powered insights by plugging in risk mitigation activities across a selection of risks and the outcomes. (Or you could work through this manually). I’m not sure how you’d assess the usefulness of the mitigation strategy: maybe on a scale of 1-5? Then you could see which actions had the biggest impact in reducing the risk.

There are lots of ways to measure project performance, and no one wants to be creating reports and tracking metrics for the sake of it. However, it might be worth looking at whether your current suite of metrics truly give you the complete, holistic picture of performance, because we all know it goes beyond time, cost and quality.

Posted on: December 08, 2023 01:04 PM | Permalink | Comments (10)

6 Tools for Forecasting

I have an electronic copy of the PMBOK® 7th edition, so from time to time I open it up to check on something. Recently, I’ve been looking at different ways to forecast as we’ve got some work on that needs to be planned out.

There are 6 quantitative forecasting options called out in the Guide. These are as follows.

tools for forecasting

Estimate to complete (ETC)

This is top of the list and the one I personally use the most often. It works even if you are not in a full, compliant, earned value management environment. The risk here is that we assume past performance is indicative of future performance, and honestly, why wouldn’t you? Unless you know something is definitely going to change measurable performance, you would assume that work is going to continue at broadly the same rate. Just jot that down as an assumption so it’s transparent to everyone.

Estimate at completion (EAC)

For me, this goes hand in hand with ETC. It’s calculated by taking the actuals and adding the ETC, so again, while it comes under the umbrella of earned value acronyms, it’s completely accessible to those who don’t work in EV setting.

Variance at completion (VAC)

As forecasting tools go, this gives interesting data. It’s the measure that shows the amount of forecasted budget over or under at the end of the project, and it’s one most project sponsors will be interested in: “Will we have any cash left to do anything else when we’re finished?”

To-complete performance index (TCPI)

I have never had the opportunity (or reason) to use this forecasting metric. Perfect for those of you working with earned value day in, day out, it’s the cost performance required to meet whatever management target you’ve set for the work. It’s a ratio, so I think it is less meaningful to execs who are used to see tangible numbers of days or money.

Regression analysis

Now more and more tools are introducing AI features, it is possible to access regression analysis more easily. Perhaps you’ve got access to an AI-powered tool that will crunch these numbers for your automatically, removing the need for statistical knowledge.

The output allows you to predict performance going forward based on what has happened in the past, so it’s arguably more grounded than other guesstimates!

Throughput analysis

The final forecasting technique mentioned is throughput analysis. This looks at the number of items completed in a fixed time, so it’s useful for teams measuring features completed, velocity and story points. You can compare the output to those of other teams, although I’d be wary about comparing teams unless they work on very similar products or services. It wouldn’t be fair to judge a team on their throughput when dealing with very complex features against the performance of a team that has higher throughput but lower complexity.

However, the team can compare its performance against itself: that would be a worthwhile exercise. Ideally, you’d want to see that the learnings from retros have been fully incorporated and, more importantly, that the changes have actually made a difference.

Which of these are most used for your project forecasting? Let us know in the comments below!

Posted on: November 08, 2023 08:00 AM | Permalink | Comments (2)

"Each problem that I solved became a rule which served afterwards to solve other problems."

- Rene Descartes