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The 15 Most Important Project Management KPIs (& How To Track Them)
Tracking KPIs during your project lifecycle can help you understand where you’re succeeding and where you aren’t. Here are a few to get you started.
Tracking key performance indicators (KPIs) or measures are critical during a project. Without them, it’s difficult to see how you’re doing in progress toward your goals. With measures that cover deadlines and budget, you can ensure the project stays on track—so you can get started with the next one!
These are the four categories under which you should be thinking about your project management KPIs. We have listed the categories and a simple definition below:
- Timeliness: This is making sure your project is done on time—and if it’s not, tracking where it’s off-target is important so you can always have an estimated completion date.
- Budget: Are you going to stay under the budget you’ve allocated, or is the project exceeding costs?
- Quality: How well has the project progressed? Are those working on it or benefitting from it satisfied?
- Effectiveness: Are you spending your time and money appropriately, or could you be managing the project more effectively?
Below, we’ll walk through each of these four project management categories with 15 example measures filed beneath them. Note: You will not need all of these measures, but hopefully they help you think about better ways to manage your projects.
The 15 Most Important Project Management KPIs
- Cycle Time: The time needed to complete a certain task or activity. This is helpful for repeated tasks in a project.
- On-Time Completion Percentage: Whether or not an assignment or task is completed by a given deadline.
- Time Spent: The amount of time that is spent on the project by all team members—or, if you like, by each team member individually.
- Number Of Adjustments To The Schedule: How many times your team has made adjustments to the completion date of the project as a whole.
- FTE Days Vs. Calendar Days: How much time your team is spending on a project by calendar days, hours, and/or full-time equivalent work days.
- Budget Variance: How much the actual budget varies from the projected budget. To track this KPI, measure how close the baseline amount of expenses or revenue is to the expected value.
- Budget Creation (Or Revision) Cycle Time: The time needed to formulate an organization’s budget. This includes the total duration of research, planning, and coming to a final agreement.
- Line Items In Budget: Line items helps owners and managers keep track of individual expenditures—and provide a more detailed way to see how the budget was spent.
- Number Of Budget Iterations: The number of budget versions produced before its final approval. A higher number of budget iterations means more time is being spent planning and finalizing a budget.
- Customer Satisfaction/Loyalty: Whether or not someone is satisfied and would come back again. This can be measured effectively by a survey. This comes more into play when the project deals directly with a client or customer.
- Number Of Errors: How often things need to be redone during the project. This is the number of times you have to redo and rework something, which affects budget revisions and calendar revisions as well.
- Customer Complaints: Keep in mind that the “customer” of a project could be someone internal—does someone from your organization complain because someone else isn’t getting things done?
- Number Of Project Milestones Completed On Time With Sign Off: There are different parts within a project—are they being completed in a timely manner? Additionally, were the milestones completed and approved by the owner or buyer?
- Number Of Returns: If you have a capital project that requires many parts, you may track the return rate of those parts; this helps you see if you did a good job planning or adjusting to the project during implementation.
- Training/Research Needed For Project: You may track this in hours, number of courses, or something similar. If you need to do a lot of this, your project might get started later than you hope. Another way of looking at this is asking, “What percent of resources did you have at the beginning of the project that were qualified to immediately begin working on the project?”
A project has many moving parts, and it is critical that you measure the timeliness, budget, quality, and effectiveness of the project along the way. You need to be sure you are able to execute on these projects effectively with a limited budget—because resources aren’t unlimited. (If you had unlimited resources, you’d probably do things a lot differently!)
If you need some assistance managing your project portfolio, we have just the thing for you. Our Project Management Field Guide walks you through how to differentiate between all things project-related, how to determine if you’re working on the right project, and a step-by-step process to help you prioritize projects. Download it today!