July 31, 2014

Subscribe:  

Project management advice, tips, tools and recommended resources for existing and aspiring project managers.

Project Management: 5 Metrics to Measure Project Success

By Maricel Rivera

project success metricsSuccess isn’t absolute. At the fundamental level, project success is difficult to define. According to Computer World, the usual group of project stakeholders – project manager, team members, sponsor, end users and top management – may give the project very different success ratings at any given point in time.

The triangle of time, scope and budget is just the starting point for project managers, as hurdling through the triple constraint is expected for the project’s output to be a success.

Then, there’s the fact that project success goes beyond just the output. As a PMI article puts it, “Based on today’s project environments, project managers need to broaden their perspective to include other criteria to satisfy stakeholders and deliver business results.”

How to measure project success

Here are five project success metrics to consider.

#1 Client satisfaction

The project’s end result may squarely fit within the designated time, budget and scope requirements, but is the client happy? Clients, sometimes, cannot eloquently explain what they want, and it is up to the project manager to figure things out. Does the project pave the way to more future partnerships? If not, is the client willing to put his reputation on the line and recommend your company to his peers and colleagues?

#2 Quality of delivery

A project may elicit results the client absolutely loves, but if the people involved in its execution had to go through endless clarification stages and endure unnecessary headaches while working their way to completion, the project may not necessarily be a success. Knowing how team members feel about the overall project can prompt project managers to devise ways to better communicate and define future delivery objectives.

#3 User adoption

A software application as an end product can only be successful if the intended end users actually use it, and use it often. Aside from usage frequency, other questions to ask can include:

  • Is the software user-friendly and easy to navigate?
  • How is the learning curve?
  • Does it address prior user challenges?
  • Overall, is the product an enabler or a nuisance?

#4 Value realization

Apart from satisfying the needs of its clients, a company must also realize its business goals, such as ROI (rate of return), NPV (net present value), among others, for every project it takes on. Shorter time-to-market and faster project delivery benefits not just the client but the business as well, in that this ultimately leads to cost efficiency and more time to take on more projects.

#5 Lessons learned

For every project, successful or otherwise, there are lessons to be learned. While failure is oftentimes seen as a better teacher than success, two important factors to look into when evaluating the success of a project are:

  • Is the project instrumental to increasing the knowledge of its stakeholders?
  • Does it better prepare the company for future endeavors?

Conclusion

Keep in mind, to ensure success above and beyond the output, project and business objectives must be aligned. The above are just five measures to look into when evaluating the success of your projects. What other measures would you like to add? Please add your thoughts in the comments section.

 

About the Author: Maricel Rivera writes content for Comindware, the company behind Comindware Project, a state-of-the-art project management solution providing unique automated scheduling and unmatched collaboration capabilities for professional project execution.

Leadership in Project Management

An excellent Leadership ebook has been released by AtTask containing lessons from well-known Project, Program and Portfolio Management experts about making the transition from project management to project leadership.

Gartner predicted a massive change in the world of project management—a change that is forcing project managers into a greater leadership role and requiring them to work closely with senior executives.  Making the shift from project management to project leadership isn’t easy, but the rewards can be significant. Read the stories for inspiration to become a better leader.

Project Management Maturity and Project Performance

project management maturityIn the difficult economic times we live in today, organisations are faced with the challenge to continuously adapt to the changing environments in order to survive and prosper. For most companies project management has become part of their competitive advantage strategy. The question is if there’s a relation between project management maturity and project performance?
This question was answered by the results from the survey done by Price Waterhouse Coopers:
Global Insights and Trends – Current Portfolio, Programme and Project Management practices

PM Maturity and Performance

Project management maturity is measured by evaluating projects on 5 performance indicators:

  1. Delivering projects on time;
  2. Within budget;
  3. To scope;
  4. To quality standards;
  5. With the intended business benefits

Project performance is evaluated around 4 core elements:

  1. Processes
  2. Organisational structure
  3. People
  4. Systems and tools

The survey results were analysed to determine the current state of project management maturity and the characteristics of higher performing projects. This article will highlight some of the key findings.

Processes

When a systematic and organised set of processes exist for project management, or in other words when a well-defined repeatable PM process is in place (can be grouped into a PM methodology) the chances are better to deliver consistently high project results.

Organisational Structure

When looking at organisation structure as an influence on PM performance the following aspects are considered:

  • Resource ownership
  • Definition of clear roles and responsibilities
  • Support from senior management
  • Use of a Project/Programme Management Office (PMO)

Results indicated that project management is critical to business performance and organisational success. Where suitable project organisational structures exist on project(s) it clearly outlines the project team and reporting relationships.
Senior management support of projects is a contributing factor to project success especially for projects that are expanding from departmental to national and international levels.
Established project management offices result in projects with higher quality and business benefits. Employing a PMO is one of many methods to institute standardized project management processes and project controls in an organisation.

People

Well-developed people management skills are fundamental to a high PM maturity level. Aspects considered in this area include: project staff skills and experience; development and training programme; and an emphasis on PM certifications.
They found that engaged, experienced staff leads to project success. Training and staff development in the field of project management has grown drastically. More PM certifications have become in demand.

Systems and Tools

Organisations purchase and create systems and tools to automate and support their PM processes. This includes the use of software for PM, Portfolio Management and Agile, as well as Earned Value Management, which is more relied on in the US as a useful tool.
The use of Portfolio Management software drives higher levels of portfolio performance and greater satisfaction with an organisation’s project management practices.

Portfolio Management

When implementing PfM, the survey results indicated that the three largest ways to be more successful include aligning the portfolio with the organisation’s strategy; using an enterprise PMO to manage the portfolio; and conducting monthly reviews. There are also several benefits to implementing Portfolio Management like:

  • Adoption of PfM has positive effects on both project performance and performance of the overall portfolio.
  • Two thirds of respondents that employ PfM reported that more than 90% of their organisation’s projects perform to expectations on the five key performance indicators. In contrast, seven out of ten organisations that do not employ PfM reported that less than 10% of their projects met the key performance indicators.

In summary, it was found that higher maturity lead to higher performance within the five key performance indicators. However, most organisations still desire a higher maturity level.
To read the full PWC Global Project Management Report, click here.

Please subscribe to Virtual Project Consulting not to miss future posts!

Recognition for Excellence in Project Management

An announcement from the Project Management Institute (PMI):

Submit a qualified nomination for the PMI Award for Project Excellence, PMI Project of the Year Award, or PMO of the Year Award before 1 April 2014!

A PMI Professional Award will help you gain new business, recognition from your colleagues, peers, current and future employers and the personal gratification of being recognized for excellence in project management. Plus, you’ll gain visibility among more than 700,000 PMI members and certification holders – the largest professional network of project managers in the world.

Award recipients will be honored among their peers at the 2014 PMI Professional Awards Ceremony preceding PMI® Global Congress 2014 — North America in Phoenix, Arizona, USA.

Please visit PMI Professional Awards for a complete list of all the awards awaiting nominations.

PMSA Becomes a Registered Professional Body

Since September 2013 PMSA has been recognised as the professional body for project management in South Africa.

This means that PMSA has the sole right and the responsibility to confer the designations of Project Manager (PM), Senior Project Manager (Sr.PM) and Professional Project Manager (Pr.PM) according to criteria specified by PMSA, and in line with the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) framework.

If you as project management practitioners have any questions in this regard, please visit the dedicated FAQ section on the PMSA website.

 

Use Enterprise Web Based Solutions to Improve your Project Management

Enterprise web based solutionBy Sharon Thomson

Managing projects can be hard for project managers who try to keep track of each and every process and operation in a project. Even if they have the required skills and capability to deal with projects, problems and issues may arise which could lead to projects getting delayed or even failing.

Fortunately many concerns can be addressed through the use of enterprise web based solutions. These web-based solutions are specifically devised to augment the human capability over managing projects and help them improve management of multiple projects. These tools enable easy description and documentation of various processes and operations that constitute a project.

A further benefit is that they enable fast and accurate communication and collaboration among team members which proves to be an asset for those organizations whose team members are situated at geographically different locations. They can easily communicate and collaborate over important matters and resolve them through purposeful interaction. They can remain in touch with their projects from any device whether it is a desktop, tablet, laptop or mobile.

The time spent over performing various tasks can be accurately documented which helps in true assessment of individuals’ performance while performing them. Moreover, organizations can bill their clients accurately by considering the number of hours spent over processing their orders. Even new projects can be easily planned and executed by referencing time related entries from old projects if the new projects are on the same lines of the already executed projects.

The important milestones and events can be properly highlighted and tracked through the calendar feature which helps to know exactly when a particular event needs to be staged, so appropriate resources can be arranged. Thus important milestone dates will never be missed.

Any problems or issues cropping up in a project can be tracked early and resolved effectively and quickly through mutual collaboration and active intervention. The progress of a project can be better tracked through the Gantt chart which helps to know if the project is on the right track or not. The level of completion of various tasks can be accurately gauged through this enterprising feature.

By using these tools, the processes and operations of a project can be better organized and scheduled and can be executed as per project plan. A project manager gets freed up from the burden of performing routine tasks like documentation, arranging meetings and tracking as most of the activities get automated. Thus he can better focus on the project affairs and ensure their timely resolution and execution. This saves time, costs and efforts over a project. This hugely facilitates its smooth execution and it gets successfully completed within the stipulated time frame with optimized usage of resources.

The use of an appropriate enterprise project management tool can indeed be a blessing for project managers who can get quality results with less work, and by focussing on the right things.

Author Bio:  Sharon is a Business manager of ProofHub, a web based project management software that facilitates management and completion of projects as per schedule. It enables the team members who are spread out in different locations in the world to collaborate over project matters. With its use, organizational objectives can be achieved effectively along with the generation of intended gains and assets.

Project Management – Challenges we look forward to

Recently when members of the online project management community were asked:

“What problems and challenges do you look forward to most, while working in project management?”

Here is what they said:

 

Knowledge Train’s blog – challenges you look forward to most

A Project Turn Around – it’s all about Relationships

By Linky van der Merwe

Success Stories SharedRecently we spoke to a project manager, Simon Murison, who is a Management Consultant at IQ Business. Simon managed a 180 degree turn around on a troubled project and this is his story:

The project

It was a multi-year development project, IT focussed and in the energy management and information domain of the retail sector. The client wanted a system to help them monitor and understand their energy usage.

How a project in trouble was turned into a success story

There were two main areas of difficulty that Simon confronted when he took on the project. Firstly, his company was unfamiliar with energy management and that made them very reliant on the client for guidance. Over time, the project team realised that the solution specification and development required an in-depth knowledge of the topic and that generic systems development skills simply weren’t enough.

A second complication was that interaction with the client stakeholders was difficult and often highly confrontational. Simon found that the client did not have a comprehensive picture of what they wanted and that the resultant scope definition was broad and subject to interpretation. This had resulted in a number of conflict situations and a relationship which was fundamentally lacking in trust.

Turnaround and Impact

It was, in retrospect, a bad decision to fix the price of the project. When the project ran into problems, the contract put them under pressure from a delivery and timeline perspective. The client was unwilling to renegotiate on cost so it was ultimately the quality and timing of delivery that suffered. This put even more pressure on the project team resulting in decisions to augment and rotate resources on the project.

Simon had initially been brought in to help out with the business analysis but, after the protracted difficulties in overall delivery, took over the management of the project. This had a negative impact on the project budget, but it was believed that Simon could restore credibility and trust with the client. If the project had failed it would have had a very negative impact on a number of other client projects and future work.

The project team ultimately managed to address the issues with the work that had been done to date and, as a result of the earlier decisions and improved delivery success, Simon and his senior management were able to revitalise and refresh the client relationship.

All about relationships

They communicated that the project was running at a significant loss for the service provider, and that this was unsustainable. Once that understanding was reached, the client was more open to change and they were able to renegotiate the contact terms – a Time and Materials based pricing was adopted and the project operated more profitably going forward. The effect of this was a better relationship, improved trust with the client, a more profitable project and a project team that was under considerably less pressure.

The decisions made to turn around a trouble-some project proved effective. Through an open dialogue with client representatives, they could negotiate a way forward that worked for all parties.

Lessons Learnt

The initial decision to contract on a fixed price basis was as a result of ineffective risk management prior to signing. A proper risk analysis was needed before deciding on a pricing approach and they have now put a Risk Analysis framework in place for all stages of the project lifecycle. This process is now institutionalised and, if risks are identified up-front, the team now adjusts proposals and contracts to include the time, resources and/or costs needed to address them.

Profit margins can be negotiated down with the client; but risk margin cannot. You should never reduce the risk margin unless the risks themselves are transferred, mitigated or eliminated completely.

It’s important to document the assumptions made during contracting as they are often an articulation of the risks that may end up detrimentally impacting the project. If possible, a project manager should be brought in prior or during contracting process.

As far as software development is concerned, don’t fix the price unless you know the topic. If it’s a new area for you – if none of your PM’s or BA’s have had some experience in the field – consider contracting on phase by phase basis or use an Agile approach, not SDLC with fixed price.

Lastly, client relationships can be the turn-around. Focus on improvement of dialogue. Clients need to work with you as a partner to ensure successful delivery.

***********************************************************

Simon Murison is a Project and Programme Manager with over 14 years’ experience in the Consulting industry. He has worked extensively with clients in the Retail and Financial Services sectors.

Simon can be contacted on +27 (0)83 6299 or via e-mail at simon.murison@gmail.com