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How to Fully Leverage Project Delivery Metrics?

Project Management

Oct 26, 2020 - 5 minutes read

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Marta Maciaszek Senior Project Manager

Marta is a Senior Project Manager with 7 years of professional experience. She’s interested in Scandinavian interior design which is known for its simplicity and functionality. She travels in her free time.

See all Marta's posts
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Every Project Leader knows that managing a project comes with plenty of challenges but at the same time, provides satisfaction. The Project Manager’s task is to lead delivery in a way that enables it to achieve its goals. It’s not an easy mission, as every project operates in a different environment and, as per definition, every project is unique. How to control the project delivery process if we’re dealing with a unique and changing task? Well… the answer is perfectly encompassed by this classic comic book quote: “With great power comes great responsibility”.

In this article, I’ll try to explain why project delivery metrics are important, how Project Managers can monitor and control delivery to ensure that goals will be achieved, and what kind of delivery metrics they should use.

Before we begin, it’s important to emphasise that metrics and data are not the only tools in the Project Leader’s arsenal. We shouldn’t rely exclusively on them when leading a project, as it’s important to also employ other project management tools and techniques.

Why Is It Important to Collect Project Delivery Metrics in Your Projects?

  • Decisions based on facts

If you collect delivery metrics and analyse them regularly, you’ll be able to make decisions based on facts and trends that are visible in the metrics. It’s important to have high quality data and a good understanding of it, in order to use it effectively.

  • Ideas

Analysing delivery metrics may help you identify the problem and find a solution. If you collect different data, it will allow you to look at the same problem from different perspectives.

  • Monitoring improvements

How can you know if the planned actions have actually improved the delivery performance? For example, you made some efforts to reduce the number of low severity bugs within scrum sprints. You need data to prove that the number of these bugs has decreased.

  • Metrics for the delivery team

Delivery metrics can be used during scrum sprint retrospectives or other project meetings. They’re a great tool that can be used to drive discussion within the team.

On the other hand, having too many metrics may give you a lot of unnecessary data. Make sure that you choose relevant metrics that can impact delivery or a product. For this, you will need a clear understanding of the project goal. As I already mentioned, each project operates in a different environment, that’s why you have to choose metrics that are viable for your project.

If you focus on many things at once and collect too much data, it may take away your attention from important factors. Don’t try to improve everything at the same time. Instead, decide what will help you and your client the most. Choose metrics that will answer the questions that you or your stakeholders have.

Data-informed vs data-driven

It’s important to mention the difference between being data-informed and data-driven.

The data-driven approach is based on using data in the decision making process, in order to validate actions before committing to them. On the other hand, data-informed decisions use data as a source of information and reference, but at the same time, the team also uses different inputs for their decisions.

"One thing is clear: intuition and rationality are not necessarily opposites. Rather it is advantageous to master both intuition and analytic skills. Let us not follow our inner voice blindly, but let us not underestimate it either."1

Be Ready to Make Improvements!

Leading vs lagging metrics

Lagging metrics help measure whether the goal has been achieved and they’re usually easier to collect but more difficult to improve. Meanwhile leading metrics support actions taken to achieve the goal, they’re harder to collect, but easier to improve. An example of leading metrics could be backlog readiness, while the number of features delivered in a single release would be a lagging metric.

If your goal is to lose weight, then checking your weight every day could be considered a lagging metric and the number of calories burned on a daily basis would act as a leading metric.2

From the project delivery point of view, it’s important to know this difference and keep both types of metrics in your reporting.

Examples of Delivery Metrics

There are a lot of metrics that you may use for software delivery, however, it’s important to choose the best options that will help you achieve the goal of your project.

At Objectivity, we have a delivery metric catalogue, which features several different metrics. Our Project Managers can decide which metrics will be applicable to their projects. These are some examples of project metrics, which we use at Objectivity:

  • Sprint burn-down for agile projects

It’s a metric, which we use on a daily basis to monitor the progress made in a sprint. It shows the amount of remaining work in the sprint as well as the team’s available capacity. Project Manager can identify risks for sprint delivery at an early stage and take necessary actions.

  • Number of bugs

There are many metrics, that Project Managers can use to monitor testing progress. The most common are: number of bugs raised, severity and priority of the bug, and number of fixed bugs within an iteration. The last one can help you plan capacity for future sprints and estimate the amount of time required for bug fixing.

  • Estimation accuracy

These metrics monitor the accuracy of estimates made by the team. Thanks to this metric, the Project Manager will be able to notice if the project was under- or overestimated early on, so the required actions can be taken.

  • Backlog readiness

Presents User Stories readiness for the upcoming sprints. This is an example of a leading metric, which helps the Project Manager make sure that work won’t be blocked due to requirements that haven’t been met.

  • Team capacity consumption

Visualises the distribution of team effort for each iteration. The Project Manager can use this metric to ensure that team composition and competencies are right for the project, and work won’t be blocked due to the lack of required skills.

How to Easily Collect Project Metrics?

The most important part of project delivery metrics is high quality data. Value of the metrics will only be as good as the provided data, so ensure that everyone in your project team is aware of that fact. Project Managers use tools like Azure DevOps or Jira to help with organising their projects. You can consider using BI Tools to collect, visualise and present the data. It’s a good idea to automate the process of collecting, analysing and displaying metrics, as it will significantly reduce the time required to prepare the reports. With the automated process, you’ll be able to refresh the dashboards with metrics you’re interested in at any time, and it only takes a few minutes.

 

1https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/can-we-rely-on-our-intuition/
2Udemy course „Advanced Product Management: Vision, Strategy & Metrics”, Cole Mercer and Evan Kimbrell

Data Driven Organisation Blog Ebook 416X300
Marta Maciaszek Senior Project Manager

Marta is a Senior Project Manager with 7 years of professional experience. She’s interested in Scandinavian interior design which is known for its simplicity and functionality. She travels in her free time.

See all Marta's posts

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