Tracking KPIs can help you understand where you’re succeeding and where you aren’t.
While we can’t provide a definitive set of key performance metrics for project management, we can highlight some areas of significance that are typically helpful to track. Below are 30 example project management KPIs to get you heading in the right direction.
Back in the day, if a project was on time and on budget, it was considered a success. That’s no longer the case. While time and budget are still considered important factors, they aren’t the only determinants of value. You may also want to know whether the project helped you achieve the intended goals, and if the amount and types of resources you dedicated to it were appropriate and even optimal.
Today’s project managers use a variety of KPIs, which generally fall into these four categories:
Note that not every project may require measurements in all these categories. Before your organization gets down to work, it’s important for both the strategic management board and the project management office to discuss what factors will determine a project’s success and, by extension, which measures will matter most.
1. Make your KPIs clear and focused. Project management KPI templates can be helpful, but it’s most important for KPIs to be S.M.A.R.T: specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound.
For example, let’s say one of the strategic objectives of a local government is to provide quality, diverse housing options that make city living attainable for a wide range of groups and income levels. An appropriate KPI for your local government might be to increase the number of affordable housing units, with a target of rehabilitating 1,000 existing structures per year to meet public needs. This KPI is SMART because it’s specific (pertaining to rehabilitating structures to create affordable housing units), measurable (it has a target number), attainable (it’s doable with the right strategies), relevant (it directly impacts goal achievement), and time-bound (it’s measured yearly).
2. Choose your measures with purpose. Too many organizations track things simply because they always have, but that leads to an overabundance of questionable KPIs. We recommend tracking just a few important measures—those that are most relevant to what you’re trying to achieve. If you can’t explain why a particular KPI is important, that's a good enough reason to drop it. Keep in mind that the more KPIs you have, the more effort it takes to report on them. (Not to mention, you’ll be inundated with information that makes it harder to determine what’s important and what’s not.)
3. Always include a target. Organizations just starting out with KPIs sometimes feel they don’t have enough historical information to assign an accurate target. But working without a target adds a level of subjectivity to the measurement—how do you know if you’re doing well or not? We recommend picking KPIs for which you can make an educated guess on a target using industry research or historical information.
4. Know when to abandon a KPI. If you’re not using a KPI when you’re making decisions for your organization or having a strategy meeting, that may be an indicator it’s not worthwhile to track. You might be expending too much effort trying to track something that’s not providing value.
Below are four categories containing 28 sample KPIs for project management. You will not need all of these measures, but hopefully they will help you think about better ways to manage your projects. These KPIs can be applied to any project management methodology you use. And remember: Your KPIs should be agreed upon by all involved parties before initiating a project, and then measured and monitored as a tool for decision-making during the project.
A project has many moving parts regardless of what project management methodology (like waterfall or agile) you use, 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. And once you have your project portfolio, you can easily track the KPIs for each project and automate your reporting with a tool like ClearPoint.
Tricia manages our implementation and onboarding team to ensure the success of ClearPoint customers.