Performance Metrics for Areas of Project Management
May 7, 2018

Performance Metrics for Areas of Project Management

Occasionally, Workfront will discover an article or an author that aligns with our internal mission of making work more effective and enjoyable. We're thrilled to have Don Lowe as a guest blogger on Talking Work and hope you find his content as beneficial as we do.

Why spend time collecting and managing performance metrics?

Relevant performance metrics will enable us to improve our understanding by removing uncertainty so that we can make well informed decisions.

For more tips on effective project management, see our on-demand webinar: "5 Project Management Best Practices You Can’t Live Without."

How do you determine which are the right metrics for your project or programme?

  1. Understand the purpose or goal of the project or work you are doing.
  2. Determine what critical success factors need to be fulfilled in order for you to succeed and achieve the goal.
  3. Take each critical success factor for the project or programme and identify how you will measure that the critical success factor has been fulfilled.

Generic Critical Success Factors For Projects

People Related Metrics

Projects and programmes are dependent on having the right people who have a clear and relevant mandate to deliver the output and capability needed by the business or non-profit organisation.

Once you have the right people it is important to ensure that they are able to work together. Your metrics and analysis should focus on the effectiveness of teamwork and individual performances.

Business and Project Metrics

Keep a balance between these critical success factors and you are more likely to deliver successful projects and have a sustainable business.

Illustration of project performance variables
  • Benefits resulting from the capability delivered by a project
  • Scope of the project product
  • Scope of the project work to deliver the project output and needed capability
  • Total cost to deliver the project output, as well as expected maintenance/upgrade costs
  • Risk management to identify uncertainty and threats to the project and take advantage of any opportunities that arise during the project
  • Quality of the deliverables and the quality of the processes
  • Time constraints to deliver the project output and realise the benefits

Benefits and Dis-Benefits Resulting from the Project Output

Start with the end in mind. Benefits and dis-benefits resulting from the project output will be measured after the project is closed. The metrics you identify will be owned by the operational team that needs the capability the project output delivers.

From the project perspective you need to be able to know if the work you are doing will actually deliver the required capability.

Benefits management is discussed in the page on Programme Management and Change.

Project Scope

What is scope in a project?

  • Product scope is the totality of components that make up the product and can be visually represented in the project breakdown structure.
  • Project scope is the work involved in delivering the product or service.

Scope of the Project Output (Product or Service)

The scope of the project output can be defined after the required benefits are known.

The scope definition will evolve as a result of the work done during the capability discovery process and the design process.

You need to identify metrics that will show delivery of the output during the build phase. Here are a couple of related metrics to consider:

Scope of the Project Work to Deliver the Project Output and Needed Capability

Metrics for the scope of project work will never be precise, they will always be estimates that can be used for informed decision making. Every project will have someone who wants precise measurements.

It is critically important for all decision makers to understand that placing a constraint either in time or cost will impact the other critical success factors. Metrics for project scope should focus on optimising the effectiveness of work done, while at the same time being as efficient as possible.

Total Cost to Deliver the Project Output, as Well as Expected Maintenance/Upgrade Costs

The cost incurred to deliver the project output is a project level metric, while maintenance and upgrade costs are long operational metrics.

Cost related metrics are important for a couple of reasons:

  • Ensuring the finances for delivering the output and needed capability are available.
  • Ensuring that there is a business case for initiating the project.
  • Continuously monitoring the business viability of the project as it progresses.

Time Management

If we manage time well, there is a greater probability that we will also manage cost, scope, quality, and risk effectively.

This in turn will enable us to deliver the intended capability and achieve the outcomes and realise benefits of the project.

Some areas where you can identify metrics related to time management:

  • Delivery date as a primary key performance indicator
  • Production rate or velocity
  • Time wasters
  • Time spent on disagreements

The following article gives some more information on effective time management.

Learn how to be a better project manager with our free guide: "The Beginner’s Guide To Agency Project Management."
Don Lowe AB

Don Lowe AB

Don Lowe AB works with small to medium-sized companies helping them to become more effective through a focus on results, resources, and how they work with people. He helps companies become more efficient by focusing on how they manage time.

This article is by Don Lowe AB from

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