Resource Index > Organizational Resources > Metrics

Metrics

Metrics are used to measure progress in both the execution of projects and in the improvement of development processes and organizational efficiency. Done poorly, they can hamper your team's efforts, or even encourage counter-productive behavior. Done well, they will support, not supplant, good management and continuous improvement.

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Examples of Project Metrics
Bill Hewlett summed up the project manager's need for metrics with the quote "You cannot manage what you cannot measure," and its corollary "What gets measured gets done."

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  • Time Tracking as a Productivity Tool
    Tracking the time spent on products and activities throughout the workday has many applications, most importantly as a cost-saving instrument for business.
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  • Project Budgets
    Spreadsheet formats for documenting the projected costs of a project and for high-level cost tracking.
Guidelines and Suggestions for Usable, Useful Project Metrics
How and where can you apply metrics in project management?

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  • Executive Summary of Project Status/Risks
    This easily scanned form condenses the project information executives really care about on a single page and focuses on changes and trends instead of dates and numbers. The result is an at-a-glance summary that quickly shows execs how the project is doing and what help is needed.
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  • Agile Technique Guideline: Information Radiators
    Information Radiators, also known as Big Visible Charts, are useful quite simply because they provide an effective way to communicate project status, issues, or metrics without a great deal of effort from the team. The premise is that these displays make critical, changing information about a project accessible to anyone with enough ambition to walk over to the team area and take a look.
  • Cost Benefits Analysis
    Is your project worth the cost? This cost benefit analysis template walks you through consideration of all the angles, and a careful evaluation of the results.
  • Benefits Realization Plan
    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.
  • Requirements Measurement Plan
    Creating a plan to measure the requirements, in addition to the project work, insures you aren't handing off muddy requirements that will cause confusion and rework later in the project.
  • Requirements Management Plan
    A requirements management plan captures the tools the team will use to record and track requirements, reinforces the importance of traceability, and articulates the project's risk management and change control strategies.
  • Calculating Expected Monetary Value (EMV) of Risks
    Assess the financial impact of a given risk and determine how much time and money to spend avoiding it.
Other Options
We've listed some great reference books on software metrics.
  • Introduction to Earned Value, Part 1: Getting Set
    This course by Carl Pritchard of Pritchard Management Associates provides an overview of the Earned Value approach to tracking project progress, in two parts. This first installment focuses on laying the groundwork for Earned Value Management during the Planning stage -- what the team must have in place to capture and measure earned value.
  • Introduction to Earned Value, Part 2: Tracking and Reporting
    This second installment of Carl Pritchard's 2-part mini-course gets into the practical details of Earned Value Management, including claiming work, reporting results, and (*ahem*) the math. The result is bottom-line language that executives will love, assuming you use Carl's intuitive, fact-based approach to reporting.
Typical Metrics Issues and Answers to Common Questions
How do people feel about metrics, and how can you gain their acceptance and support?

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  • How to Get Value out of a Project Management Office (PMO)
    This paper from International Institute for Learning and EPM Solutions takes an executive-level look at the PMO, including advice for measuring the PMO correctly.
  • Measure Me!
    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.
  • Measure What Matters
    We spend a lot of time measuring things like schedules, budgets, and requirements. But is that really what's most important to our projects?
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Other Options
  • Tracking and Managing the Performance of Virtual Teams, a mini-course with Cinda Voegtli
    This course from Cinda Voegtli addresses the unique challenges of tracking and managing distributed team members. No matter where your team members are located or who they report to, there are several easy forms of tracking and communication you can use ensure that the right work is getting done at the right time. 1 PDU.



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