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Key performance indicators are the metrics that project managers use to measure their team’s performance and also to relate progress to other project stakeholders. The speed and ease with which a PM can ascertain a project’s health, whether good or bad, and keep other relevant senior executives or clients updated is of vital importance, the former for identifying issues quickly and the latter for building trust and confidence.

As such, knowing how to set KPIs for projects and to apply them consistently is an important skill for project managers. There are a huge number of potential key performance indicators that are commonly used in the professional world so, even though it is acceptable to choose several KPIs, it can be easy to become overwhelmed when trying to decide which ones are the most applicable for your project.

Generally key performance indicators can be broken down into four categories of measurement:

Schedule: How well your team is sticking to the project plan and milestones that were laid out. Examples of this are:

  • Planned hours of work vs. Actual hours of work: This KPI measures how much time it has taken to reach the current project completion percentage against the projected amount of time. A negative result means being behind schedule, a positive one means you’re ahead and 0 means you’re precisely where you should be.
  • Overdue tasks: By calculating the tasks that have gone over deadlines or run overdue compared to the total number of tasks, you can calculate the percentage of project delays which have occurred.

Budget: Whether or not the project is within the agreed allowances for costs. Examples of this are:

  • Cost Variance: This calculates whether your project is ahead or behind schedule by plotting the amount of money that was due to be spent according to the budget versus how much has actually been spent.
  • Planned Value: Also known as Budgeted Cost of Work Performed, this KPI indicates how effective you have been at keeping to the set budget by calculating how much of it there should be left at that given stage of the project.
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Standards: For measuring if the quality is being maintained at an acceptable level for work produced. Examples of this are:

  • Problem Hours per Task: For projects with consecutive deliverables, this KPI measures how often there are issues which need to be resolved by your team and how long it takes them to resolve those issues.

Efficiency: Combining time and money, is the project utilizing its resources in the best possible way. Examples of this are:

  • Percentage of Tasks Completed: This metric will judge how many of the project’s tasks you should have completed by now versus how many have actually been done, to give you a quick insight into project health.
  • Resource Utilization: As a means of tracking your team’s hours, this KPI will show how effectively your staff’s hours have been put to use in terms of billable hours vs. non-billable hours.

Deciding on the most applicable metrics is the most important part of knowing how to set KPIs for projects. The measurement of the data can be easily achieved using high-speed, cloud-based project management software such as Clarizen’s. Once you know what you need, you can use Clarizen’s versatile and flexible dashboards to help you collect and analyze the project data you need.

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