Project Practitioners > Measure It!

Measure It!

By Nova Rose

I was walking to lunch with my friend the performance measurement analyst and I was in an exceptionally jubilant mood over the smooth launch of my latest project.

“Well, my project was successful; I launched the software on time, within budget, actually below the budget, and the stakeholders are happy, so now it is time to plan the celebration!” 

“That’s great!” she said, "but did the project meet its success criteria?"

“Of course” I replied, "it came in under budget saving the company a few thousand dollars!"

“Well, project success cannot be based on just launching within budget, scope, and time, you really should set project success criteria and then measure them.” She said.

“Well, how is that done?” Having gone through the organization’s balanced scorecard process I was beginning to get the feeling that I would have to add a new phase to each project just to set measures. She quickly noticed my fear and explained the simplicity with which this task can be accomplished.

"Success criteria can be based on a number of factors," she explained. "For example, the number of change requests on a project is a good indication of the effectiveness of the requirements gathering process. The project manager and team could set measures at the start of the project that there should be no more than ten percent of the change requests caused by lack of proper requirements gathering. At the end of the project you then count the change requests that were based on lack of proper requirements. This will give you an indication of how the requirements process worked and will inform how you modify your technique for future projects. On technology projects, a good measure may be the number of bug fixes and errors encountered during user acceptance testing."

Project teams determine which measures are appropriate for the project, the source for obtaining the data, and whether they are lead or lag measures. Lead measures are those that can be measured throughout the project, like number of change requests. Lag measures are determined after the fact, like a customer satisfaction survey.

Results from performance measurement on projects provide good insight and lessons learned. They also give indications of standards that could be set and met with vendors and stakeholders in future phases or projects.

Two months later, I added a new item to the agenda for the new project kickoff meeting.

“Item 3: Success criteria/performance measures – Are we doing the right things and are we doing them well?”

Related Links
Our Software Requirements Capture Guideline was developed by a software exec who's rabid about getting the all the requirements the first time. Agile approaches to requirements tend to focus on getting the broad picture early, and the details at the time of development. Record the results of your project success measurements in the lessons learned, for the benefit of future projects.

Not all comments are posted. Posted comments are subject to editing for clarity and length.

Great information, and I agree performance measurement does provide good insight on lessons learned. Also,in my opinion, it is another great way to stay in the groove of the project. I enjoyed this article.

Setting service level agreements is important, especially with a vendor. In an IT outsourcing environment, it's the teamwork that brings the customer and vendor together that determines whether the time, cost, quality SLA measures are being met.

Maureen, you are absolutely correct. It is very important to have SLA's in place and they do provide good measures and indicators of how projects are doing.

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