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Project KPI‘s in the 21st Century (Karin Deacon)

Friday, 28 October 2011 | Van Rooyen, Karin

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The shape of business has changed dramatically over the last 15 years... Exponential times call for organisations to produce exponential results, however we cannot allow this to be achieved at the expense of our planet. Every person has a moral obligation to do whatever it takes to sustain our planet.... And the projects environment is an ideal place to start by driving the right behaviours by measuring the right results. Projects are about introducing change - changing the way people work, delivering products, shaping customer behaviour and ultimately the world as we know it today. This can only be achieved by introducing the 3Rs - (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle) over above the traditional KPIs - (Scope, Time, Cost, Quality, Benefits) to measure project success.

So where do you start, you may be asking? It is quite simple. Projects by definition are designed to create efficiencies in business. In business today, we only have one shot at getting the right things right, the first time. Let us have a look at a few examples.

Based on the definition supplied by, the word Reduce means: to bring down to a smaller extent, size, amount, number, etc. or to to lower in degree, intensity, etc.

Think about the projects you are currently working on, how could you apply the Reduce KPI? You could measure the success of the project as follows:
  • Reduction in non-value added activities
  • Reduce turn- around times in resolving issues
  • Reduce the number of customer change requests to revise scope
  • Number of process improvement ideas implemented
  • Number of hours/rands saved from process improvements
  • Number of best practices identified and applied on the project
  • Number of risks that were successfully mitigated
Based on the definition supplied by The MacMillan Dictionary the word Recycle means: to use something again, often for a different purpose and the word Reuse means: to use something again, sometimes for a different purpose

Both reusing and recycling are aimed at conserving what we already have and reducing waste, but they are not the same thing. Recycling is a process, while reusing is a practice. In other words, reusing something means that you continue to use it for its original purpose or find a new purpose for it, so that you do not have to throw it away or recycle it.

How many times when you start a project, do you start with a "blank" piece of paper? We have built up a wealth of historical information on previous similar projects and hopefully have collected some lessons learned. You could introduce the recycle KPI as follows:

The examples listed below could be used to track and measure the Reuse or Recycle KPI.
  • Recycle or reuse historical information and lessons learned
  • Recycle or reuse of existing products, materials, equipment
  • Reuse of templates
  • Effort hours saved through reuse of previous deliverables, models or components
In order to start tracking the 3Rs over above the traditional project KPIs, you need to start with reviewing the objectives and deliverables in the Project Scope Statement, as well as any other existing information that is relevant to the project. Based on this existing documentation, define what information is needed to show that the project was successful in terms of contributing to the 3Rs.

This can be viewed from two perspectives:
  • Internal - These characteristics indicate that the project was managed and executed effectively and efficiently. This might include having deliverables approved with no more than two review iterations, hitting major milestone dates on time, and having a minimum number of errors uncovered during user acceptance testing.
  • External - These characteristics indicate that your project objectives were completed successfully. Examples include completing the project within the approved budget and timeline, ensuring the deliverables meet the approved quality criteria, and positive feedback from customer satisfaction surveys.
Once you have identified the success criteria, assign potential metrics and ensure you have the data available to measure your success. You then need to set up a Project Scorecard, which could include the following headings:
  • Metric - The list of metrics actually going to be collected
  • Target - What is the unit of measure? What is the performance target?
  • Data Needed - What data do we need to track the metrics?
  • Responsible / Frequency - Who is responsible for collecting the metric and how often?
  • Metric Gathering - How are we going to collect the data?
  • Metric Sharing - How will we share the information and how often?
Once your project scorecard is populated, you are ready to start measuring your success.

Project management is definitely not for the faint hearted. It takes a very special and unique individual to work on projects. Someone who keeps focussed on the task at hand, however understands the bigger picture in terms of sustainability. Their passion and drive to initiate and change the way businesses operate and deliver products, services or results is a trait every business needs today. In the not to near distant future, business and project will converge as one. People who possess exceptional project management skills will be the critical success factor to an organisations survival and ultimately the planets survival in the 21st century.

For more information, contact PM.Ideas to find out how you can introduce the 3R KPIs in your projects environment and ultimately make a contribution to ensure the Earths assets are sustainable.

Karin Deacon is one of the founding members and co-owner of PM.Ideas. Karin is a passionate project manager whose mission in life is to improve people‘s project management competencies and organisational capabilities and ultimately make the world we live in a better place.







Psychology in the Workplace by Phillippa Morassi (Manager: Marketing)








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