Understanding Metrics for Project Portfolio Management

Understanding Metrics for Project Portfolio Management

Understanding Metrics for Project Portfolio Management

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Losing weight is pretty simple. Track and measure your calorie expenditure. Track and measure your daily calorie intake. Track your daily weight. Make adjustments to calorie expenditure and intake and slowly but surely the number on the scale begins to drop.

It’s amazing what metrics can do. In this weight loss example, metrics tell you what you’re doing right, what needs to be tweaked, what needs a massive improvement, how and where you’re making losses (gains), and when you’ve hit a plateau. As an extra bonus, these metrics keep you motivated and give you the instant gratification of seeing improvements and keeping you on the path to goal achievement.

Just like weight loss, project portfolio management success relies and demands metrics. It’s impossible to have a clear picture of your entire project ecosystem, team members, organization goals, and client demands without measurable, comparable, and visual data. Metrics allow you to validate your work and support you when you need to make changes in how you’re accomplishing your work.

Project portfolio management needs metrics – there is no way to get around this. This article digs into the how, what, when, where, and why of metrics. Get the facts on metrics and understand how to use them to benefit your team, your projects, and your organization.

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Project Portfolio Management Metrics

 

You need a straight-forward and clear methodology that allows you to plan and prioritize, to schedule, execute, and deliver, and to adjust and change as necessary. This is the very value and essence of project portfolio management, and it is enabled and enhanced by metrics.

Measuring, tracking, and knowing how resources are aligned with which projects and how this fits into your overall strategic plan for success – is how you and your team can stay aligned, motivated, and on a clear success path.

The right application of project portfolio management metrics allows you to prevent resource drains, cost over-runs, missed deadlines, over-burdened teams, burn-out, and ultimately project failure.

However, with all the benefit that these data points and measures provide, there is a flipside to the data. When the project portfolio is running smoothly and your team is experiencing success, everyone revels in looking at the metrics and highlighting the successes. But when a project is behind schedule or over-budget, these very same metrics can appear to be the enemy. Your team begins to bristle at the mention of metrics and how they emphasize why you need to make changes to return to a success path.

Your team success comes down to knowing how you’ll apply and use metrics as a tool for success and improvement. Know why you’re measuring what you’re measuring and how you can use this data to support team and portfolio success.

Metrics for Effective Project Portfolio Management

The right application of project portfolio management metrics is one that is visible, accessible, measurable, and easy-to-understand. With this ideal collision of data and knowledge, the true value of the overall project portfolio can be realized.

Remember that to get real measurable and actionable metrics, you need to be using a project portfolio management tool that has the business intelligence and capabilities needed to deliver real insight.

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Consider using the following project portfolio management metrics to keep your projects and team aligned with business value and succss:

  • Strategic Alignment Metrics. Know the number of projects in your portfolio, the budget committed to each, and how these connect to organization goals. Clearly see the number of projects that reach delivery phase compared to the number of total initiated projects. Know the ROI on each project, including the time-to-market for each project.
  • Operational Efficiency Metrics. Quickly see how projects compare for key markers such as budget, delivery dates achieved, and resource requirements. Measure how long it takes for a given project to move from idea to development to production to market. Fine-tune how and where people are applied during each phase of a given project. Measure projects for maintenance demands and the actual cost/benefit return on this maintenance.
  • Timeliness Metrics. Know how many projects were completed on-schedule and how many changes were made to project scope to ensure scheduling success. See how and where you can make scheduling improvements to better support and adjust for unexpected interruptions and failures. Know if you have the ability to quickly turn-around a project to meet client demands.
  • Budget Metrics. It all comes down to dollars and resources. Know which projects are on budget and which ones aren’t. Remember to include factors such as people days, tool costs, and other variables in your budget analysis. Track the budget metrics through-out the project to clearly understand where you’re falling behind or surpassing goals.
  • Value/Quality Delivered Metrics. It’s key that you know which projects are delivering on value and quality. Measure customer (internal and external) satisfaction with each project and use this to help forecast future projects. Know where it makes sense to invest – see the high-value returns and areas where quality needs to be improved. Project success comes down to business value, and this is directly tied to customer satisfaction.

When reviewing and analyzing project portfolio metrics, remember to keep this data in perspective. Think about the decisions that went into choosing your measurable data points and analysis tools. Metrics are a necessity for project portfolio management success but it’s important to take a step back and review how and why you’re using these metrics. Ensure you’re adjusting your data points, key sources, and metric weighting as your organization goals and values shift.

Remember that you’re using metrics as a way to improve overall project efficiency and business value success – not as a way to highlight good or bad. The right metrics allow you to succeed and cut through the extraneous to drill down and focus on project priorities.

 

Clare Louise

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