Project Practitioners > The Power of Measurement

The Power of Measurement

By ProjectConnections Staff

Anything you measure, automatically improves.  This is a basic, inescapable law of human nature. Karl Pearson, noted English mathematician and biometrician, captured this fact and its corollary in the following quotation which came to be known as Pearson's Law:   "That which is measured improves. That which is measured and reported improves exponentially."  

If you want to see improvement in any area, determine your current baseline, desired target and then start measuring and reporting on it.   This is especially relevant in the project management space given the fact that projects by definition are time-limited, quality-driven, metric-driven enterprises and speaks to the importance of creating what I would call "metric awareness" with your teams and key stakeholders by, e.g., posting key project metrics and KPI's, discussing them during team meetings and highlighting them in status reporting. 

What to focus on?  The short answer is figure out what's important for the particular project you're working on based on what's most important to your sponsor, key stakeholders and customers and if there's any question as to what that is, ASK them. Then, figure out an efficient way to capture credible data, analyze it and dig deep for the important messages it's telling you about what's working, what's not working and what might be in danger of not working and openly and proactively talk about it. This doesn't have to be complicated and in fact, its effectiveness will usually be inversely proportionate to its complexity.  Become a measurement junkie - you'll find your results will almost invariably improve and, your arguments will have the strength of solid data behind them.

Related Articles: - There are two sayings that are commonly used when discussing measurement and management: "You can't manage what you don't measure," and "You get what you measure..." Read more to learn how to be careful what you measure. - Are your projects measuring up? How do you know? Look into the what and how of the scales you're using (or planning to use) to find out if they are really on your side. - Don't settle for a vague sense that the project was a good thing. A Benefits Realization Plan documents the expected benefits of the project, details how they will be measured, and captures those measurements for later assessment and use in lessons learned.

Related Templates: - This template provides formats and example project data illustrating effective ways to track project progress --- by explicitly tracking drafts, reviews, and completion of multiple very small deliverables. - This one-page worksheet, designed by Kimberly Wiefling of Wiefling Consulting, helps your team define the project finish line in clear, measurable terms. The format encourages measurable goals, go/no-go criteria, long-term progress reports, and active risk mitigation. The end result is a high-level project dashboard that helps you understand not only where the project is, but how to get where it should be.

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