Measuring Project Success Using Business KPIs

Delivering a project “on-time and on-budget” is no longer an adequate measure of project success. In today’s environment, the key question should be: “Did the project deliver value to the business?” For example, a project could be delivered on time and on budget, but does not guarantee: Benefits outlined in business case were achieved User adoption Expected ROI was achieved A satisfied customer The solution addresses the customer need Sales were in line with forecasts There will be market demand for the product As a project manager, you may think that delivering business results isn’t your concern and that it is the customer’s problem to solve.  However in today’s environment, project managers are expected to partner with the customer, understand the business drivers, and ensure that the project delivers the business results that were specified in the business case. That is how many organizations are beginning to view project success. Delivering business value can be a tall order. Delivering business value requires gaining an understanding of the business drivers: the problem or opportunity that precipitated the project and defining a clear set of business objectives to address the problem. Measuring business value is best done through defining Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and measuring actual performance using the KPIs. Key Performance Indicators are quantifiable measurements that are agreed to by stakeholders to reflect the critical success factors of an organization. KPIs are: Established by the customer at the beginning of the project and listed in order of priority. Directly related to and supported by business goals and objectives. The basis for critical decision-making throughout the project. The basis for acceptance...

Understanding and Managing Geeks: What You Need to Know

While terms like “Geek Squad” and phrases like “The geeks shall inherit the earth” are humorous, it’s common knowledge that “geeks” – high-tech specialized knowledge workers – provide tremendous value in technology and business. Because they’re so important, it’s imperative to understand them, manage them, and lead them effectively. No one knows that more than Paul Glen, author of Leading Geeks. In this book, Glen asserts that geeks are essential for continued innovation, either to generate new ideas or to implement the ideas of others. They are knowledge workers who specialize in creating, maintaining, or supporting high technology. While they are often found in IT, they also have roles in accounting, finance, marketing, sales, or customer service. We need them – but what makes them tick? Geeks are, according to Glen: Reason-based – Geeks value logic and rational input Focused on problem solving – “In every situation,” Glen says, “They seek out the problem and try to solve it.” Childlike – Geeks are intelligent and often very successful early on, in years when they might have been developing social skills or self awareness. Based on this, they are often childlike and still new at adjusting to social situations and intuitively knowing how to act. Curious puzzle solvers – Geeks love intellectual activities that make use of their knowledge, creativity, and logic. Geeks can also be poor communicators, and be prone to interpersonal conflicts. They can also be resistant to following typical organizational policies and structures, believing they should have exemptions based on their specialized work, technical skills, creativity, and intelligence. How to lead them Glen says effective management involves...

3 keys to maintaining control before projects get out of control

Project managers know that a multitude of factors can lead to project failure, including unrealistic goals, poor budgeting, and poor quality control. While the majority of projects that get off target can be saved, the secret to project success is not allowing projects get off target in the first place. To do that involves key steps that are often overlooked and oversimplified: Planning, staffing, and communication. Consider everything According to project managers Ralph R. Young, Steven M. Brady, and Dennis C. Nagle, Jr., authors of How to Save a Failing Project; Chaos to Control, just scheduling, budgeting, and monitoring a project is not enough to produce satisfactory results. Instead, project managers must plan and identify their output (i.e., all the products that the project team must create). A product breakdown structure can be created to define each component of the output, including progress reports, technical analyses, and other deliverables. Attached to this needs to be a work breakdown structure that estimates the resources needed for each aspect of the output.  The project plan should also include a “process model” that outlines the activities and outcomes for each task. If it’s anticipated that some tasks will need to be repeated, enough resources and funding should be allocated. Authors Young, Brady, and Nagle recommend dedicating 10% of the total scheduled project time to early planning and to continuing discussions about potential problems and changes. Pick your people These authors also cite poor personnel decisions as a factor in project failures. Project teams should be balanced and represent multiple skills sets.  Once in place, regular, ongoing meetings should occur to discuss project...

Choosing a Requirements Management Tool

Do you paint with a spoon? Do you pound nails with a pencil? Eat with a shoe? Probably not – they are all the wrong tools for the job. Using them for these purposes will waste time, exhaust resources, and leave you with undesired results. What tool are you using to increase project success, meet stakeholder needs, and achieve overall business goals? The right tool is one specifically designed for requirements management, collaboration, and analysis. Download these free resources to find out everything you need to know to pick the best one. Choose an effective requirements management tool that: Provides traceability, collaboration, prioritization, and more Keeps pace with innovation Achieves excellent business outcomes by providing training, resources, and support; promoting collaboration; and building domain knowledge Put down the spoons, pencils, and shoes. If you’re looking for the right tool for the job at your organization, download the valuable information above. [cta...

3 keys to maintaining control before projects get out of control

Project managers know that a lot of factors can lead to project failure: unrealistic goals, poor budgeting, and poor quality control. While the majority of projects that get off target can be saved, the secret to project success is not letting projects get off target in the first place. To do that involves key steps that are often overlooked and oversimplified: Planning, staffing, and communication. Consider everything According to project managers Ralph R. Young, Steven M. Brady, and Dennis C. Nagle, Jr., authors of How to Save a Failing Project; Chaos to Control, just scheduling, budgeting, and monitoring a project is not enough to produce satisfactory results. Instead, project managers must plan and identify their output: all the products that the project team must create. A product breakdown structure can be created to define each component of the output, including progress reports, technical analyses, and other deliverables. Attached to this needs to be a work breakdown structure that estimates the resources needed for each aspect of the output.  The project plan should also include a “process model” that outlines the activities and outcomes for each task. If it’s anticipated that some tasks will need to be repeated, enough resources and funding should be allocated. Authors Young, Brady, and Nagle recommend dedicating 10% of the total scheduled project time to early planning and to continuing discussions about potential problems and changes. Pick your people These authors also cite bad personnel decisions as a factor in project failures. Project teams should be balanced and represent multiple skills sets.  Once in place, regular, ongoing meetings should occur to discuss project progress, assess...

Linking Project Performance to Business Outcomes

I was with one my consulting colleagues this week in Denver and he was working with a large organization where the CIO wanted to link project performance to business outcomes. He said the IT organization was really struggling with this concept and did not really have a clue of how to approach this management function. The organization had outsourced most of its application development and management to a large service provider. The few business analysts in the organization were primarily requirement writers that know how to write requirements to be included in work orders for the outsourcing firm. My colleague was helping the organization renegotiate its outsourcing contract to achieve better price and better performance. In this blog post, let’s examine what this organization could do to achieve the objective of linking project performance to business outcomes. My colleague and I established the following list of the five things we would recommend to the organization to accomplish their objective. 1. Build a Business Analysis Capability A strong business analysis capability is necessary to link project performance to business outcomes. While the project manager manages time, budget, scope, and quality, the business analyst is responsible for delivering business value and ensuring that expected business outcomes are defined and met after the project has been delivered. The modern business analyst does much more than just write requirements; the role of the modern business analyst includes: Analyzing and documenting organization problems Evaluating options and recommending solutions for organization problems Eliciting and documenting business and stakeholder needs Identifying and engaging stakeholders Defining solution requirements Facilitating collaboration between business and development teams Enabling business change...