IT Metrics

What Data Drives IT Project Management Performance?

This is a post will help you kick-start a discussion with the people in your organization; your management and your staff, about innovating the management process.  It covers what is measured today and what should be measured tomorrow.

Research indicates despite everything we’ve tried, project success rates have hardly budged in 30 years.

A study of 5,400 large scale IT projects (projects with initial budgets greater than $15M) found that the well-known challenges with IT Project Management are persisting. Among the key findings quoted from the report: “17 percent of large IT projects go so badly that they can threaten the very existence of the company. On average, large IT projects run 45 percent over budget and 7 percent over time, while delivering 56 percent less value than predicted”

Additionally, IBM found only 40% of projects ever met schedule, budget and quality goals.

Looking at the numbers, we can see there is plenty of opportunity for improving challenged project success rates. In 2012, the CHAOS report found that only 39% of projects were deemed successful, and 18% were just plain failures. The remaining 43% were considered “challenged.” Even if we only focus on the projects that were considered challenged, it’s clear that there’s a huge opportunity to be better.

So, rather than dwell on numbers with poor performance, let’s focus on the positive: the ability to be more competitive.

Organizations that have mature project management offices (PMOs) have been able to become more significantly and consistently reliable.  This is giving them the ability to out-compete their rivals by:

  • 28% for on-time project delivery;
  • 24% for on-budget delivery; and
  • 20% for meeting original goals and business intent of projects.

So, how can organizations develop more mature PMOs to be able to compete?

The answer lies in what we should be measuring in our organizations, and how we should it. It’s in the data that drives performance.

So, what should we be measuring?

In the end, there are only two things that REALLY matter:

  1. Am I making progress toward my objectives?
  2. Am I managing the conditions that will determine future success (risks)?

As the research in the beginning of my post indicates, managing risk is still a challenge. It’s still a challenge because the conditions that should be tracked almost never are. These are critical conditions that determine what the volume, quality, and cost outcomes will be.

The conditions that should be monitored are:

  • Expectations Management – Are expectations clear?
  • Sponsor Involvement – Is my sponsor engaged?
  • Process Compliance – Are processes being followed?

Together, they address the ultimate metric:

  • Project Rework Probability

If an organization is lucky enough to already be aware of these conditions, a lot of them still rely on ‘feel’.  Others have semi-formal management by walking around approaches. Some situate teams together for a combination of both. Others have systemized the process with surveys like Survey Monkey.

Others, like CAI, have developed software specifically for capturing and combining the relevant project management data and providing project stakeholder with dashboards. This equips everyone with the ability to compete using the data that drives performance.

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