Constant improvement is a distinguishable trait of a real professional. When it comes to software development, at first glance, it may seem that it’s pretty easy to measure how a specific specialist evolves over time. Programmers write better code that has fewer errors and results in top-performance applications. QA engineers do not miss a single bug while testing the software product, and UI/UX designers create eye-catching look-and-feel that attracts new users and makes customers happy.
But what about project management? If the project was completed on time and under the budget, does it mean that the team has reached its limit and it is no longer possible to achieve more? Is there a way to measure how well the project was managed, and, more importantly, is it possible to determine if there’s room for improvements? In fact, there are dozens of project management metrics allowing you to assess whether the resources are used optimally or not. Today, we’ll consider some of the most useful to help you not get lost in the sea of performance indicators.
What Cannot Be Measured Cannot Be Improved
Constantly monitoring project management metrics is an excellent way to ensure adequate resource allocation and determine the possible evaluation opportunities. The question here is what exactly should you measure. Tracking your every step may not be so productive. At some point, you’ll find yourself buried under the amount of data you don’t have the resources to process. On the other hand, there’s the risk of missing a vital project management metric that has the potential to become a real life changer. Let’s consider some rules that can help you choose the right metrics.
First of all, you have to be specific about what you’re going to measure and how this knowledge will help you with your current and future projects. You must define the scope clearly and make sure that the metrics you choose are clear to understand for every person involved in the project. These metrics should be measurable. For example, customer’s happiness is the main aim for any company providing business software development services. Still, it may be hard to measure it since we don’t have the technology yet.
The indicator that you plan to focus on must be realistic. For example, your intention to invent a “flying car” while developing a CRM solution for your client can be rather ambitious. But it is doubtful that you can achieve this, so it’s better not to spend the resources trying to measure how close you get to this goal. Besides, the project management metrics you want to focus on must be achievable within a given project. Every project has a beginning and an end. To measure your progress efficiently, you need to have the possibility to compare how much time it takes to complete specific tasks in a given period. Therefore, make sure that your project management metrics are time-bound.
Suppose you set the project management metrics to track correctly. In that case, you’ll have the possibility to measure team productivity based on quantitative indicators rather than relying on descriptive terms such as “the job was done well, we are great”. With such info before your eyes, you can easily find all the bottlenecks and determine effective measures to optimize the use of resources. You can add an extra layer of information to your view of how the project progresses, which will help you get rid of uncertainty and make data-driven decisions.
Keeping Focus on What Really Matters
There are many project management metrics that describe the overall picture from different perspectives. Among them, you can find productivity metrics and quality metrics. You can focus on those project metrics that will enable new resource management opportunities according to your needs. For example, you may want to measure how long it takes for the team members to reach specific milestones and make some improvements if you find obstacles that slow them down. The overall number of customer’s complaints may be an excellent example of quality metrics. Now, let’s consider some metrics that may become vital for successful project management.
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Your schedule is your number one source of essential performance metrics allowing you to assess the efficiency of resource allocation. During the planning phase, you decide which tasks and milestones should be represented in the schedule and during the work on the project, you can compare planned performance with the actual results. Project management apps with built-in scheduling tools can help effortlessly determine whether specific milestones were achieved on time and how long it takes to complete those of the most interest to you.
Return on investment, aka ROI, describes the value of project outcomes vs the amount of money a customer has spent on it. It can include dozens of little things, such as team members’ time on paperwork for which companies don’t usually bill the clients. Therefore, to achieve better results in terms of ROI, it’s essential to track billable and nonbillable hours. The overall time you spend on completing specific tasks plays a vital role since specialists are usually paid by the hour, and specialists’ time involved in software development is quite expensive.
Customer satisfaction is a project management metric that describes how well you meet the needs of your clients and your ability to translate their business needs into a set of software product requirements. You can assess customers’ satisfaction by processing feedback received from them. A good impression of working with you also determines whether or not your client will recommend your services to friends and colleagues. Such a recommendation can be more important than advertising on the Internet since people tend to trust somebody they know more than a pop-up ad or a YouTube video. That’s why it’s vital to track such a project management metric as Net Promoter Score.
However, sometimes things do not go as planned and instead of waiting for the influx of new customers caused by good reviews on the results of your work you have to deal with customer complaints. They can be caused by software errors, bugs, and freezes that a customer faces during the work with the app. Therefore, you must constantly monitor the number of errors made by your team to understand how changes in resource management influence this metric.
Nobody loves changes since they can break the usual way of doing things and, in the case of project management, can also cost you a lot of money. Whenever there’s the need to cancel or change a previously made decision, correcting the course of the project will require time and money. Project cancellation and change rate is a metric that helps you understand if something went wrong during the planning phase and if there is a need for revising the way you spend resources during the initial project stages.
Every time you add a specific task to the schedule, you have to deal with such a phenomenon as estimated completion time. Most likely, you work with real people and not with robots, and due to dozens of different causes, things may take a much longer time than initially planned. Therefore, to reach perfection in resource management, you should always compare the scheduled completion time of the task with the actual time your team spent working on it. This metric, along with on-time completion, will help you assess your team’s actual performance and develop better planning skills.
Constant project management metrics monitoring is the key to understanding the difference between how good your team is in your mind and how good it is in practice. In the right hands, this info can become a priceless asset allowing you to reallocate resources rapidly in case of some unpredicted issues and make data-driven decisions aimed to increase the overall performance.
If you want to deal with experienced professionals from whose eyes not a single project management metric escapes, feel free to contact us.