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Annual targets for Project Managers in a (balanced) matrix organisation
Dear Readers;

In my role as a director PMO I am responsible for managing a pool of project managers. This also involves annual target setting and performance reviews. The question that struggles me for years now is: What kind of targets are effective to let project managers strive for delivering successful projects - under the constraint that they operate in a matrix organisation with strong functional leaders (= resource owners). (in PMI terms I would call our organisation "balanced matrix").

Certainly, the ultimate goal should be to "deliver the agreed scope, in time, in budget". But in my view, this is only a fair goal if the project manager gets full control over internal resources. However, in matrix organisations it happens too often that resources, which have been allocated to a project, are pulled away for other "unexpected" or "urgent" tasks. Consequently, this results in a delay and the project manager misses his/her target.

So, can you think of alternative (or additional) performance measures for a project manager, rather than the "traditional" ones?

Thanks for your thoughts
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Sven, couldn't you stick with your original 'time, cost and quality' measure, but add something along the lines of 'to the latest agreed baseline'? That way, if the project slips for any reason and is baselined again, you are assessing the team member against that, not the original schedule which they could not control.

Have you considered asking the project managers to write their own objectives? Provided they are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, time-bound and they are prepared to take ownership of them, you might be suprised at what they come up with.
Sven, have you also seen this discussion about managing team appraisals? There might be something useful there for you.
Hi Sven

As with matrix organisations as you rightly say too often resources, that were assigned to a project, are re-assigned temporarily to other urgent tasks therefore it should be documented as a project risk from the outset and it is to be accepted so there is no adverse impact on the Project Manager's performance for missed targets as it was out of their control. That is fair as the organisation dictates what is urgent and what it is not even within PMO's! Frequent performance reviews every 3 months is the norm and not at the end of project or annually that's not enough. Setting specific project objectives [usually no more than 5] and organisational objectives should be done between your Project manager[s] and yourself to clearly agree so there are no surprises later on. Meeting the agreed objectives is one thing, there is also the 'how' were the objectives were met that usually influence the overall performance ratings for Project Managers. Feedback from stakeholders and other key project resources should also form part of the performance reviews to ensure Project Managers get the opportunity to change or correct behaviour if negative feedback is provided and to understand what is expected of them, hence the 3 monthly reviews.

I am sure there are many links about Performance reviews and appraisals, however, there should be a standardised process within your organisation and PMO's are no exception.

Hi Sven,

it's good that you are in control of the pool of PMs, Elizabeth is right to suggest asking for self-set objectives, and Vasoula is spot on about reviewing performance more regularly (if you leave it to the end of the project it may be too late) but I'd also throw in a few that can be easily measured...perhaps using "time to resolve issues" would show skill at issue handling, "risk/issue ratio" lets you know if risks are being managed correctly to minimise chances of them become issues and therefore costly to the organisation outside project tracking. If meetings are well recorded, how about "Actions/meeting" or even "Actions/hour of meeting"? and then another metric of "actions met/total actions" this would allow quantitative analysis of some routine project tasks. You may also then identify that some managers are having lots of ineffective meetings, and that addressing this will positively impact project delivery.

It will all mean some extra work for you getting this set up and working out how best to record and monitor it, but once it is in place, you will quickly see where improvements can be made - or that everyone is performing brilliantly.
Dear Elizabeth, Vasoula and Russel
thanks so much for your valuable input.

Yes, for the cost, scope and schedule related targets I will not use fixed figures, dates or scope descriptions but "the performace against the latest agreed baseline".

Also, I like the idea of the "risk / issue" ratio. Maybe I can find out some additional ratios ....

Again thanks for your responses.

I got a mixed views of different things based on the comments from some of the ganttheads below. On one hand, I am hearing things that are related to project performance, which is associated to project success criteria. On the other hand, I am also hearing things that are related to the evaluation of project manager's performance. If we are talking about project performance, then I would suggest to start off by defining the project success criteria or KPIs across the organization and endorsed and supported by the business. If we are talking about project manager's individual performance, we can always refer to PMI's Project Manager Competency Development Framework (PMCDF), in second edition now, as a starting point to define the criteria and benchmark the competency of project managers.

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