Why and How We Measure Results

Think back to your school days. How was your ability to retain the knowledge you learned measured? In my day, that was usually a written test or a multiple choice test. In the working world many of us only get “tested” at our official performance review, held once a year and sometimes by a manager that we never worked with. Many of today’s projects are delivered in a matrix environment. The matrix project environment is made up of subject matter experts that report to a functional manager and not a projects manager.

In a project environment, the Project Manager uses tools such as Schedule Performance Index (SPI) and Cost Performance Index (CPI) which provide quantitative analysis in order to measure change in the plan at a point in time. Many firms have employed a rigorous scorecard that includes qualitative measures based on stakeholder happiness, and scope analysis, as well in order to provide a more well-rounded report to sponsors.

At the client level, Project Managers will provide scorecards as part of the project closing activities in order to collect client satisfaction information that can be used to identify the areas of the project that needed attention. The problem with this is the timing. By the end of the project, many of the issues have been forgotten and not documented so they don’t get identified. In matrix type projects this is more common because the resources leave before the end of the project and don’t submit lessons learned.

The solution to this is to ensure that there is some level of measurement and reporting at pre-set intervals throughout the process and before any member of the team exits the project.

Measuring the Result of Change Requests

Let’s turn now to managing project change requests and determining results. One problem that is recurring with the project change request is that if the project actually uses a project change process it is uncommon for anyone to truly confirm and document that the change actually was implemented. This can be particularly challenging if the process is not adhered to. This creates frustration and conflict at the end of the project when the contract closing is being completed.

Measuring results is generally a weak area for many companies. The Project Management Institute (PMI) identifies “Control and monitoring” as a process in the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK).

Unfortunately the division between the two is not even. We suggest that 90% is monitoring and the constant for control is reporting and not necessarily action. We could take a page from professional baseball. These people measure everything in order to create colour commentary during the games, but even more important is that the teams use the data collected to improve strategies and performance levels. It helps them with their team strategies, answering questions such as ‘where are we weakest?’ What do we need to do in order to bolster that position and make it more predictable, and dependable? If we could do that in industry with the support of the HR department, companies would show performance improvements and as a result more profit. If only...

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