Process Improvement

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What kinds of performance metrics you use to see if the project is on track?

Schedule variance? Cost variance? Resource utilization? Do you have only one main metric on small projects? On larger projects do you have a selection of metrics that give you a bigger picture view?
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May it be a small or a bigger project, we will always have schedule, cost variance, resource utilization and so on.
Even for a small project, as a project manager we must ensure all these are on track.
The allowed variance for a large project can be larger. So there is more space for keeping project on track within the allowed variance.
Having handled small as well as large projects, I have observed that schedule and cost were important to me in a small project too and they are equally important for me in a large project as well.

To see if my project is on track, I use the following -
# Schedule variance
# Cost variance
# Resource utilization
# Scope changes / number of change requests
# Number of escalations or requests from stakeholders - this tells me if the stakeholder or communication plan was right or needs to be improvised
# Quality - Number of issues - this tells me if the quality team and development team’s performance
# Risk register - Check if the risks were identified correctly for a project

Cost and Schedule Variance, Number of Change Request, Resource Substitutions

Andrey -

it really depends on the delivery approach used - metrics for a project following an agile delivery approach might be different than those for one taking a more traditional approach.

In general, I'd break out metrics into four buckets:

1. Objective measure of scope, schedule, cost performance - e.g. EVM
2. Team health - subjective
3. Key stakeholder attitude - subjective
4. Business value delivered


Almost irrespective of approach/methodology used to 'run' the project, I use metrics that let me know whether the team will be able to deliver that scope, at an expected level of quality (I.e. features/functionality and fitness for use) within the recipient's expectations regarding when they will get the final deliverable and within the available budget.

That means I need metrics that tell me a version of burn-up (are we done with enough features by this point in the project that we can 'see' us hitting the necessary level of scope (at quality) within the time and budget allottments.

If it's a predictive PM approach, I also want to see a master burn down. Have we finished the work we'd expected by this time in the project? One way to see that is #tasks completed by this schedule date / #planned tasks by this schedule time, and also the same concept planned vs actual comparison for actual spend to date / planned spend to date (ii.e. sched variance, budget variance)

This, along with a judgment of the numbers and types of the risks and issues in front of the project.

Finally, an ongoing discussion with the project sponsors/steering team regarding what they really need vs what planned that they don't.

EVM, quality, risk register etc.

It depends on the project. For small one, may be the %complete is the most important one. However, you may need to check some other metrics based on type of the project and its requirements.

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