Large Projects – Beginning of the Project

Large projects should definitely be capturing metrics that will provide information on the quality of the deliverables and the processes used to create the deliverables. The following process can be used to come up with the appropriate metrics on the project. This process will result in the creation of a Project Scorecard.



Managing Metrics (Large Projects)


Project Manager

Identify criteria for success

Review the objectives and deliverables in the Project Charter, as well as any other existing information that is relevant to the project. Based on this existing documentation, define the information that is needed to show that the project was successful. This can be from two perspectives:

  • Internal. These characteristics indicate that the project was managed and executed effectively and efficiently. These types of metrics include having deliverables approved with no more than two review iterations, hitting major internal milestone dates on time and having a minimum number of errors uncovered in user acceptance testing, etc.

  • External. These characteristics indicate that your project objectives and deliverables were completed successfully. Examples of externally-focused metrics include completing the project within approved budget and timeline, ensuring your deliverables meet approved quality criteria and validating that the deliverables meet client expectations.

If your organization is trying to be compliant with the Capability Maturity Model (CMMI), you should definitely include the business value delivered by the project as one of the key aspects of project success. 


Project Manager

Assign potential metrics

Identify potential metrics for each success criterion that provide an indication of whether you are on-track for success. These can be direct, quantifiable metrics or indirect metrics that give a sense for success criteria. For each metric, briefly determine how you would collect the information, the effort and cost of collection, and the value that would be obtained from the metric.


Project Manager

Look for a balance

The potential list of metrics should be placed into categories to make sure that they provide a balanced view of the project. For instance, you do not want to end up with only a set of financial metrics, even though they might be easiest to obtain. In general, look for metrics that provide information in the areas such as:  

  • Cost

  • Effort

  • Duration

  • Productivity

  • Quality of deliverables

  • Client satisfaction with the deliverables produced

  • Project team performance

  • Business value delivered

A table of sample metrics can be viewed at 10.1.1 Sample Metrics


Project Manager

Prioritize the balanced list of metrics

Depending on how many metrics you have identified, prioritize the list to include only those that have the least cost to collect and provide the most value to the project. There can certainly be as many metrics collected as make sense for the project, but there may end up being no more than one or two per category. In general, look to provide the most information with the least amount of work. After you have prioritized the metrics, check again to make sure they are balanced. Readjust the mix of metrics if necessary to ensure that you still have a balanced list of final metrics to collect and analyze.


Project Manager

Set targets

The raw metric may be of some interest, but the measure of success comes from comparing your actuals against a predefined target. The target provides the context to know if the current measurement value is good, bad or moving in the right direction. The target may be a single value you are trying to achieve or it may be a range. For instance, you may need to complete your project by a certain fixed date, but your actual cost might need to be ± 10% of approved budget.


Project Manager

Add schedule detail

For each metric that remains, determine the specific activities necessary to collect and analyze the information. These activities are then added to the project schedule. This information needs to include:

  • What specific data is needed for the metrics?

  • Who is responsible for collecting the metric?

  • When will the metric be collected and reported?

  • How will the metrics be reported (status reports, quarterly meetings, metrics reports)?

Ongoing Processes – Large Projects


Project Manager

Collect and improve your processes

The metrics will be collected on an ongoing basis throughout the project. The metrics need to be analyzed and compared to the target numbers. Process changes may need to be made based on the results of the metrics. In addition to the absolute values of each metric, it is also important to look at the trends. For instance, you may be over budget versus your target. However, over a series of months, the trend may show that you will hit your budget at the end of the project. In that case, no corrective action may be needed.

Likewise, you may have a target for client satisfaction to be a rating of four on a five-point scale. Your current rating may be a 4.1. However, if the prior ratings were 4.5, 4.3 and 4.2, then the trend is going in the wrong direction and you may want to make changes – even though you are actually above target today.


Project Manager

Analyze the scorecard metrics throughout the project

Evaluate the overall metrics you are collecting on a monthly basis to ensure they still accurately reflect the overall project status and that they are driving the behaviors desired. If they are not, make changes as appropriate.


Project Manager

Report your final results and make a recommendation for overall project success

When the project is complete, the team should create a final scorecard that reflects the overall results of the project. The project team can analyze the final metrics and make a recommendation on the overall success of the project to the Project Sponsor. The Project Sponsor can review the results and decide whether to accept the team recommendation or issue the different, final evaluation of project success. 


Project Manager

Send final results to the Project Management Office (or other centralized reporting and process improvement organization)

Business demands are getting tougher and tougher. Organizations need to be able to do more with less. The performance level that was good enough this year will not meet the higher expectation level of the next year. The PMO and the entire management team must always be looking for ways to improve their project delivery process and the overall service level.

The project team should report their final metrics to the PMO so that the PMO can track project success across the organization. The PMO should use this information as valuable input into an ongoing process improvement initiative for the entire organization. (If your organization does not have a PMO, you should send the information to whatever organization is responsible for ongoing process improvement.)   

Your organization should have a program in place to encourage process improvement ideas. The program should include the ongoing communication of the importance of process improvement, some mechanism for gathering ideas, and follow-up processes to ensure every idea gets discussed. The individual that provided the suggestion should receive feedback, regardless of whether or not the suggestion was implemented. If the suggestion was not implemented, the person who sent in the suggestion should be provided feedback as to why.



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