Ongoing measurement of project progress is vital. In the simplest terms, it tells you how much work has been done and what is left to do.
However, in certain instances it tends only to be treated as vital when something on the project goes wrong; and only then will you hear comments such as “we needed those metrics - we never had visibility of progress!”
Metrics will highlight both positives and negatives on a project: on the upside, they will verify that a project is on track; if there’s a negative, they will pinpoint the issue - such as a delay - and enable a relevant commentary to explain why there has been a problem.
With the proper process in place to obtain the project metrics there shouldn’t be many surprises when progress reports go to project stakeholders. People on the teams need a level of pre-warning to allow them to make the necessary information available.
Deciding on the right metrics
Even before deciding on which metrics to adopt, the most important factor is to get the customer requirements prioritized and agreed. Only then can you begin to build and implement effective and appropriate metrics.
The metrics chosen might depend on personal preference and the type of project being measured. However, what is generally needed is a framework of metrics which will tell you, above all, whether you are doing the right things or not.
Some of the most effective metrics you can include in your framework are:
Return on investment (ROI) - if you’re seeing the ROI number predicted, then the project has been implemented properly.
Benefits realization - ideally, you want to see an early delivery of benefits which builds up the level of confidence within the business, e.g. agile delivery approaches provide this.
Business stakeholder feedback - A successful project can be measured by favourable feedback from stakeholders leading teams who are affected by the project.
Customer satisfaction - are your customers happy with what’s been delivered? Are they seeing early value?
Employee project team satisfaction - it’s important to gather this information which allows you to improve ways of working within the project. Getting teams to respond and build on lessons learned will help teams improve and increase satisfaction.
Change process efficiency - is the speed of the change process acceptable to the customer?
End user adoption: business change - has the project addressed customer challenges and is the solution being used as it should be?
Risk - how does the organization measure and quantify risk? There needs to be a process to monitor the reduction of risk exposure levels. This could be an overall figure or a series of measurements based on the organization’s agreed risk management strategy. If risks become issues you need metrics in place to capture and resolve them.
With customer needs pinpointed and an appropriate framework of metrics put in place - which are ultimately for you to select - you will be able to analyze and demonstrate project progress while applying a greater focus on any areas falling short.