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Topics: Talent Management
Objective Measures of PMs
I was looking for some ideas on how to attempt to measure PM performance objectively. I personally think it is a difficult undertaking and can often be inaccurate or inappropriate, but my VP is going to demand it, so I would like to have a few ideas on what kinds of things you have found that work.
Gordon Paisley
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I can't say I'm big on metrics. They're fine in theory but it's so hard to get the historical data to back them up. What's worse, many times the wrong thing is being measured. Take the "under budget" bellwether. If a PM's projects are always under budget, does that make him a good PM, or a bad estimator?
It seems that a PM's performance rests in their ability to deliver projects on time and on budget. The only other measure of success is the customer's and teams satisfaction with the process. If a PM can deliver the goods as promised is such a way that the customer and team would entrust them with another project then they are doing their job and doing it well. Sounds obvious but it is what a PM is supposed to do.
I guess I should have clarified my situation better. It's easy to throw out the triple constraint as the benchmark for measuring, and that would be easy if all cost, time and quality were solely within the control of the PM. However, as we all know, projects require critical input from people that do not directly work for the PM (the dark side of the matrixed organization), nor are they necessarily held to the same measures (since the often 'live' in other departments.)

My concern is this: How to capture enough of the efforts/results of the PM to adequately reflect his value to the company. A PM can prepare a perfect project plan, and can still have the project miss one or more of the constraints due COMPLETELY to the actions or inactions of others on the team. There is only so much the PM can do to get things done. How do you account for this in an evaluation system?

Here's a couple provocative questions . . .

Is it valid to perform individual evaluations on what are inherently team-based endeavors?

What is the purpose of individual evaluation?

Can "objective" measures "appropriate" for individual evaluation exist that do not, in some cases, conflict with what is needed to enhance the performance of the team or larger organization?

One solution is to assure that the processes support the need of the organization, and that the individuals follow those processes. If those are achieved, then everybody should be happy with their performance, and their evaluation.

It ain't people at the core of performance problems, it's conflicts between processes. The shame of it is that those conflicts don't have to exist.

I see your delimna. I believe the answer lies in how your write the metric. It is however the job of the PM to manage the project in such away that variables outside thier control are reported and accounted for. Accountability is the key. It would be fair to add to the metric calculation relief for changes that are outside the control of the PM. And if milestone completion acknowledgements are part of the plan then the plan going forward can be contingent on those milestones being approved. In the end analysis, the PM must be accountable for the project completing on time and on budget. Just as the CEO is accountable for EBITDA. The board does not want to hear that its not the CEO's fault. With the chair comes the responsibility. A good plan factors in potential failure and has remedies in place.

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