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Project Management:
Key Performance Indicators

1
Table of Contents
1

Introduction

2

What are KPIs?

3

KPI Display Types

4

Project Dashboards

5

Summary

2
Introduction
The Importance of Conveying Information
–

Project Management requires the accurate monitoring of several key data points and types
throughout the lifecycle of a particular project or program

–

These data points need to be observed and presented in a fashion that makes their
interpretation easy to discern

–

In addition to the project manager, the team members, stakeholders and project sponsor
all need to be able to get a sense of project progress in a simple and straightforward
fashion; inundating them with complex jargon or difficult to read data sets will lead to
confusion

–

As such, the best strategy to utilize is to identify and leverage a few pertinent Key
Performance Indicators (KPIs) that will properly convey information in a simple yet
effective manner to anyone wishing to interpret current project status and progress

3
Introduction
The Need for KPIs
–

KPIs provide a window not only into the current status of the project or its past
performance, but also serve as a means to detect future problems

–

This ability to spot a potential problem manifesting (eg. schedule slippage) will allow the
project manager and team to address the situation ahead of time and take steps to
mitigate it accordingly

–

Different KPIs can yield different insights into the project as a whole, allowing for several
views for the project manager and team

4
What are KPIs?
Primary Definition
–

To put it simply, a Key Performance Indicator is essentially a type of performance
measurement

–

In essence, it is a way to evaluate the success of a particular endeavor or activity

Real World Examples
–

Example 1: A simple analogy for a KPI would be something like a batting average in
baseball; higher averages denote better hitting success rates and allow teams to gauge
performance of their players

–

Example 2: Another example would be a stock portfolios rate of return, which could be
demonstrated several ways including increase in monetary wealth of the account as well as
rates of return for key investments and how they performed against each other

5
What are KPIs?
Anatomy of a KPI
–

KEY = A major contributor to the success or failure of the project; a KPI is therefore ONLY a
key when it can either make or break the project

–

PERFORMANCE = In essence, a metric that can be measured, quantified, adjusted, and
controlled; note that the metric MUST be controllable to improve performance

–

INDICATOR = An easy to read and interpret representation of present and future
performance

6
What are KPIs?
KPI Types
–
–
–
–
–
–
–
–
–
–
–

Quantitative Indicators: A measure that can be presented numerically
Qualitative Indicators: Cannot be measured numerically
Leading Indicators: Forward looking measures that help predict future outcomes
Lagging Indicators: Provide a post hoc mechanism
Input Indicators: Measure the usage of resources used during project execution
Process Indicators: Used to measure overall efficiency
Output Indicators: Used to demonstrate the outcome or results of the process activities
Practical Indicators: Interfaces to existing company processes
Directional Indicators: Demonstrating whether organization or project is improving or not
Actionable Indicators: Those which are in control of the organization
Financial Indicators: Monetary measures
(**Source: Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Key_performance_indicators)

7
What are KPIs?
KPI Project Management Examples
–

There are numerous KPI types that exist within the project management space; a few key
examples would be the following:

I. Estimate to project completion
II. Number of unresolved issues
III. Current resource allocation
IV. Labor costs spent (per month)
V. Current development backlog
VI. Project schedule (Agile or Waterfall)
VII. Issues found in code review
VIII. Issues found by QA
IX. Issues found by customers
What are KPIs?
KPI Selection Process
–

A key aspect of picking the right KPIs is to ensure you are choosing the specific ones that
are actually most pertinent to establishing project success

–

Creating a KPIs ‘library’ is quite straightforward; however, ensuring you only select the
relevant KPIs is a little more challenging

–

Too many KPIs will lead to confusion and could start sending false positives to the project
stakeholders, sponsor and team members; additionally, overloading the usage of KPIs will
eventually lead to the situation of ‘noise’, whereby so many factors are monitored that it
becomes a blur

9
What are KPIs?
KPI Selection Process – S.M.A.R.T.
–

A simple method on KPI selection is to leverage the ‘SMART’ technique, which can be
summarized as follows:
What are KPIs?
KPI Problems and Issues
–

There can be several reasons why a KPI may end up being either insufficient or downright
detrimental when being used in a project. Listed below are several of the key ways that
may cause failure of the KPI to yield what it was meant to provide:

The KPI is not related or relevant to the work being performed
The rate of change in the KPI is too slow to produce a result that is actionable
Turnaround time for actions needed to correct low performing KPIs takes too long
The responses necessary or the processes needed to deal with KPIs indicating a problem
either do not exist or are woefully inadequate
 The KPIs are only loosely monitored by front line managers as opposed to being shared
with the team as a whole
 Too many KPIs put in place leading to confusion and ‘noise’





11
KPI Display Types
Conveying KPIs
–

The most effective way to convey a particular point in a straightforward fashion is to derive
a simple representation of what you are attempting to show

–

Think of road signs: they are often very terse with minimal verbiage, often times leveraging
a particular shape or color to drive home their point

–

Even when one is traveling overseas and does not understand the language of the region,
the symbolism of the signs are often so ubiquitous, that they can still provide insight into
what they are conveying even if one is not cognizant of the language; eg. Consider the
different ways that ‘stop’ are conveyed in the signs below:

12
KPI Display Types
Conveying KPIs
–

As alluded to, a KPI is meant to be an item that someone can look at quickly, at a glance,
and instantly discern its status

–

In that sense, KPIs should always be kept concise and too the point; additionally, when
showing KPIs, make sure they exist in mutually distinct areas on your report so as to not
create clutter (this will be discussed further in the dashboarding section

–

One important point: when performing measurements for a KPI, it is not necessary to strive
for perfection. Warren Buffett once famously said: “It is better to be approximately right
that to be precisely wrong”

–

As such, focus on thinking of the KPIs as being a ‘rough guide’ rather than absolutes

13
KPI Display Types
Widget Types
–

The following slides will provide examples of some of the common widget types that can be
used to display various KPIs

–

The nature and type of each widget is portable to different KPIs and the selection of which
widget to use for which KPI type is up to the discretion of the project manager

–

Each widget will be accompanied by a brief description of its type and inherent display
function

14
KPI Display Types
Standard and Stacked Histograms

 Usage

 Tips

 Conveying total amounts in
singular or segmented (stacked)
fashion

 Avoid too many data points in a
singular chart; it will make the
information harder to read

 Provides visual comparisons
against totals

 Use effective color schemes
15
KPI Display Types
Pie Charts

 Usage
 Conveying percentage amounts
in separate ‘pieces’
 Provides quick view of larger
segments versus smaller ones

 Tips
 Keep pie pieces separated by
spaces; it makes them easier to
view
 Use effective color schemes
16
KPI Display Types
Line Charts

 Usage
 Conveying aggregate data sets in
line format
 Provides trending analysis of
data points

 Tips
 Avoid excessive use of additional
line segments; try to keep it at no
more than four segments per chart
 Use effective color schemes
17
KPI Display Types
Tabular Data
Rank

Company

Order Total

Revenue

1

ACME

$1,000,000

$100,000

2

UFP

$2,500,000

$250,000

3

Uber Comp

$1,200,000

$120,000

4

Happy Games

$600,000

$60,000

5

Wonder Comp

$4,200,000

$420,000

 Usage
 Conveying various key/value
pieces of data
 Provides ‘hard’ values for
viewing and analysis

 Tips
 Try to avoid too many lines and
columns to your table; minimize
vertical and horizontal scrolling
 Use effective fonts and keep them
consistent
18
KPI Display Types
Focus Grid (Tiled Matrix)

 Usage

 Tips

 Simplistic conveyance of certain
items

 Do not overload grid with
excessive number of items

 Provides simplistic
representation

 Use effective color schemes
19
KPI Display Types
Speedometer

65%
Complete
 Status: Slight delay
 Issues: None
 Note: Follow-up with
client

 Usage

 Tips

 Provides ‘progress to completion’
or ‘current status’ indicator

 Keep concept simple and akin to
standard methodology

 Gives easy to interpret
mechanism at denoting status

 Use effective color schemes
20
KPI Display Types
Radar Plot

 Usage

 Tips

 Provides overlay and scatter
analysis of data

 Avoid attempting to compare too
many series in one plot

 Gives indicator on how disparate
data points correlate

 Use effective color schemes
21
KPI Display Types
Area Graph

 Usage

 Tips

 Provides a line-based histogram
type overlay of multiple series

 Avoid attempting to compare too
many series in one plot

 Can be used to determine trends
and derive projections

 Use effective color schemes
22
Project Dashboards
Displaying Multiple KPIs
–
–

Once individual KPIs are produced, they will need to be displayed in some manner that can
allow the casual observer to easily read various data points in one pass
Enter the ‘Project Dashboard’, a means by which many KPIs can be showcased in a tiled
fashion

23
Project Dashboards
Notes on Best Practices for Dashboards
1. Try to avoid using too many KPIs on a singular dashboard; if there are many KPIs to display,
break them up into separate dashboards organized by KPI commonalities
2. Use effective spacing; try not to ‘clutter’ your dashboard with KPI charts mushed up
together too tightly
3. Keep KPI chart tiles at uniform sizes (when possible); from a viewing standpoint, it is far
easier to scan a dashboard with equally sized chart widgets than it is to try to discern a
malaise of uneven or different sized tiles
4. Leverage ‘highlighting’ when possible to bring out specific data points more easily
5. Provide ‘drill down’ or ‘tool tip’ capability if possible; this will give additional information to
the end user as they hover or click over parts of the charts
6. Have additional controls if possible; i.e. zooming, filtering, color adjustment, etc

***Note:

The following slides will provide
samples of different dashboard
and layout concepts, utilizing
both mid level and high level
KPI display items
24
Project Dashboards
Sample Dashboard of Common Project KPIs

Project Status: Green
Key Discussion Items
•Currently performing
unit tests and
validations of primary
architecture design
concepts
•QA planning
Project Dashboards
Sample High Level Project Overview
Project: Manhattan
Objective

Issues/Risks

•Primary Manhattan rollout

Project Status: Green

•No current risks identified

Main Focus

Key Discussion Items

•Usability improvements and new features,
focusing on more robust client/server
architecture

65% Complete

•Currently performing unit tests and
validations of primary architecture design
concepts
Timeline

Primary Resources
Name

Role
Milestone

Start

End

GUI Developer

1. Project Charter

Mar 1

---

Steve M.

CLI Developer

2. Gather Requirements

Mar 4

Mar 22

Amit K.

API Developer

3. Design Discussions

Mar 25 April 30

Jeff Wong

GUI & API Developer

4. Primary Coding

May 1

Aug 2

Melanie R.

Graphic Artist

Philip R.S.

QA Engineer

5. Testing Cycle

Aug 5

Aug 16

King Uber

Project Sponsor

6. Beta Release

Aug 19

Aug 29

Tom the Grunt

Project Manager

7. Rollout

Aug 30

---

Sanjay H.

Dev Lead & DBA

Joe Smith

Mar

April

May

June

July

Aug
Summary
Using and Understanding KPIs
–
–

Picking and choosing the right KPIs to display is not always a straightforward task and in
most cases will require a little trial and error
Knowing how to interpret the KPIs and ensure that actionable measures can be taken must
be adequately understood up front so as to have a means of mitigation if problems or
changes to the project occur

Displaying KPIs Effectively
–
–
–

In order to properly convey KPI and pertinent project information, leverage a dashboarding
mechanism that showcases key pieces of data in easy to read tiles
Each tile ‘widget’ should be properly spaced and aligned with others in the display
Try to group similar KPIs into functional areas and separate them into different dashboards
if too many KPIs result in clutter within a singular view

27
Summary
Conclusion
–

KPIs are the mechanism by which a project manager can gauge the status of their project

–

Picking the right KPIs is a group exercise and should be done with care

–

Displaying KPIs should be done in an easy to interpret fashion, minimizing clutter and
‘noise’ as much as possible

–

A dashboard is the most efficient way of displaying multiple KPIs in a singular view

28

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Project Management KPIs

  • 2. Table of Contents 1 Introduction 2 What are KPIs? 3 KPI Display Types 4 Project Dashboards 5 Summary 2
  • 3. Introduction The Importance of Conveying Information – Project Management requires the accurate monitoring of several key data points and types throughout the lifecycle of a particular project or program – These data points need to be observed and presented in a fashion that makes their interpretation easy to discern – In addition to the project manager, the team members, stakeholders and project sponsor all need to be able to get a sense of project progress in a simple and straightforward fashion; inundating them with complex jargon or difficult to read data sets will lead to confusion – As such, the best strategy to utilize is to identify and leverage a few pertinent Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that will properly convey information in a simple yet effective manner to anyone wishing to interpret current project status and progress 3
  • 4. Introduction The Need for KPIs – KPIs provide a window not only into the current status of the project or its past performance, but also serve as a means to detect future problems – This ability to spot a potential problem manifesting (eg. schedule slippage) will allow the project manager and team to address the situation ahead of time and take steps to mitigate it accordingly – Different KPIs can yield different insights into the project as a whole, allowing for several views for the project manager and team 4
  • 5. What are KPIs? Primary Definition – To put it simply, a Key Performance Indicator is essentially a type of performance measurement – In essence, it is a way to evaluate the success of a particular endeavor or activity Real World Examples – Example 1: A simple analogy for a KPI would be something like a batting average in baseball; higher averages denote better hitting success rates and allow teams to gauge performance of their players – Example 2: Another example would be a stock portfolios rate of return, which could be demonstrated several ways including increase in monetary wealth of the account as well as rates of return for key investments and how they performed against each other 5
  • 6. What are KPIs? Anatomy of a KPI – KEY = A major contributor to the success or failure of the project; a KPI is therefore ONLY a key when it can either make or break the project – PERFORMANCE = In essence, a metric that can be measured, quantified, adjusted, and controlled; note that the metric MUST be controllable to improve performance – INDICATOR = An easy to read and interpret representation of present and future performance 6
  • 7. What are KPIs? KPI Types – – – – – – – – – – – Quantitative Indicators: A measure that can be presented numerically Qualitative Indicators: Cannot be measured numerically Leading Indicators: Forward looking measures that help predict future outcomes Lagging Indicators: Provide a post hoc mechanism Input Indicators: Measure the usage of resources used during project execution Process Indicators: Used to measure overall efficiency Output Indicators: Used to demonstrate the outcome or results of the process activities Practical Indicators: Interfaces to existing company processes Directional Indicators: Demonstrating whether organization or project is improving or not Actionable Indicators: Those which are in control of the organization Financial Indicators: Monetary measures (**Source: Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Key_performance_indicators) 7
  • 8. What are KPIs? KPI Project Management Examples – There are numerous KPI types that exist within the project management space; a few key examples would be the following: I. Estimate to project completion II. Number of unresolved issues III. Current resource allocation IV. Labor costs spent (per month) V. Current development backlog VI. Project schedule (Agile or Waterfall) VII. Issues found in code review VIII. Issues found by QA IX. Issues found by customers
  • 9. What are KPIs? KPI Selection Process – A key aspect of picking the right KPIs is to ensure you are choosing the specific ones that are actually most pertinent to establishing project success – Creating a KPIs ‘library’ is quite straightforward; however, ensuring you only select the relevant KPIs is a little more challenging – Too many KPIs will lead to confusion and could start sending false positives to the project stakeholders, sponsor and team members; additionally, overloading the usage of KPIs will eventually lead to the situation of ‘noise’, whereby so many factors are monitored that it becomes a blur 9
  • 10. What are KPIs? KPI Selection Process – S.M.A.R.T. – A simple method on KPI selection is to leverage the ‘SMART’ technique, which can be summarized as follows:
  • 11. What are KPIs? KPI Problems and Issues – There can be several reasons why a KPI may end up being either insufficient or downright detrimental when being used in a project. Listed below are several of the key ways that may cause failure of the KPI to yield what it was meant to provide: The KPI is not related or relevant to the work being performed The rate of change in the KPI is too slow to produce a result that is actionable Turnaround time for actions needed to correct low performing KPIs takes too long The responses necessary or the processes needed to deal with KPIs indicating a problem either do not exist or are woefully inadequate  The KPIs are only loosely monitored by front line managers as opposed to being shared with the team as a whole  Too many KPIs put in place leading to confusion and ‘noise’     11
  • 12. KPI Display Types Conveying KPIs – The most effective way to convey a particular point in a straightforward fashion is to derive a simple representation of what you are attempting to show – Think of road signs: they are often very terse with minimal verbiage, often times leveraging a particular shape or color to drive home their point – Even when one is traveling overseas and does not understand the language of the region, the symbolism of the signs are often so ubiquitous, that they can still provide insight into what they are conveying even if one is not cognizant of the language; eg. Consider the different ways that ‘stop’ are conveyed in the signs below: 12
  • 13. KPI Display Types Conveying KPIs – As alluded to, a KPI is meant to be an item that someone can look at quickly, at a glance, and instantly discern its status – In that sense, KPIs should always be kept concise and too the point; additionally, when showing KPIs, make sure they exist in mutually distinct areas on your report so as to not create clutter (this will be discussed further in the dashboarding section – One important point: when performing measurements for a KPI, it is not necessary to strive for perfection. Warren Buffett once famously said: “It is better to be approximately right that to be precisely wrong” – As such, focus on thinking of the KPIs as being a ‘rough guide’ rather than absolutes 13
  • 14. KPI Display Types Widget Types – The following slides will provide examples of some of the common widget types that can be used to display various KPIs – The nature and type of each widget is portable to different KPIs and the selection of which widget to use for which KPI type is up to the discretion of the project manager – Each widget will be accompanied by a brief description of its type and inherent display function 14
  • 15. KPI Display Types Standard and Stacked Histograms  Usage  Tips  Conveying total amounts in singular or segmented (stacked) fashion  Avoid too many data points in a singular chart; it will make the information harder to read  Provides visual comparisons against totals  Use effective color schemes 15
  • 16. KPI Display Types Pie Charts  Usage  Conveying percentage amounts in separate ‘pieces’  Provides quick view of larger segments versus smaller ones  Tips  Keep pie pieces separated by spaces; it makes them easier to view  Use effective color schemes 16
  • 17. KPI Display Types Line Charts  Usage  Conveying aggregate data sets in line format  Provides trending analysis of data points  Tips  Avoid excessive use of additional line segments; try to keep it at no more than four segments per chart  Use effective color schemes 17
  • 18. KPI Display Types Tabular Data Rank Company Order Total Revenue 1 ACME $1,000,000 $100,000 2 UFP $2,500,000 $250,000 3 Uber Comp $1,200,000 $120,000 4 Happy Games $600,000 $60,000 5 Wonder Comp $4,200,000 $420,000  Usage  Conveying various key/value pieces of data  Provides ‘hard’ values for viewing and analysis  Tips  Try to avoid too many lines and columns to your table; minimize vertical and horizontal scrolling  Use effective fonts and keep them consistent 18
  • 19. KPI Display Types Focus Grid (Tiled Matrix)  Usage  Tips  Simplistic conveyance of certain items  Do not overload grid with excessive number of items  Provides simplistic representation  Use effective color schemes 19
  • 20. KPI Display Types Speedometer 65% Complete  Status: Slight delay  Issues: None  Note: Follow-up with client  Usage  Tips  Provides ‘progress to completion’ or ‘current status’ indicator  Keep concept simple and akin to standard methodology  Gives easy to interpret mechanism at denoting status  Use effective color schemes 20
  • 21. KPI Display Types Radar Plot  Usage  Tips  Provides overlay and scatter analysis of data  Avoid attempting to compare too many series in one plot  Gives indicator on how disparate data points correlate  Use effective color schemes 21
  • 22. KPI Display Types Area Graph  Usage  Tips  Provides a line-based histogram type overlay of multiple series  Avoid attempting to compare too many series in one plot  Can be used to determine trends and derive projections  Use effective color schemes 22
  • 23. Project Dashboards Displaying Multiple KPIs – – Once individual KPIs are produced, they will need to be displayed in some manner that can allow the casual observer to easily read various data points in one pass Enter the ‘Project Dashboard’, a means by which many KPIs can be showcased in a tiled fashion 23
  • 24. Project Dashboards Notes on Best Practices for Dashboards 1. Try to avoid using too many KPIs on a singular dashboard; if there are many KPIs to display, break them up into separate dashboards organized by KPI commonalities 2. Use effective spacing; try not to ‘clutter’ your dashboard with KPI charts mushed up together too tightly 3. Keep KPI chart tiles at uniform sizes (when possible); from a viewing standpoint, it is far easier to scan a dashboard with equally sized chart widgets than it is to try to discern a malaise of uneven or different sized tiles 4. Leverage ‘highlighting’ when possible to bring out specific data points more easily 5. Provide ‘drill down’ or ‘tool tip’ capability if possible; this will give additional information to the end user as they hover or click over parts of the charts 6. Have additional controls if possible; i.e. zooming, filtering, color adjustment, etc ***Note: The following slides will provide samples of different dashboard and layout concepts, utilizing both mid level and high level KPI display items 24
  • 25. Project Dashboards Sample Dashboard of Common Project KPIs Project Status: Green Key Discussion Items •Currently performing unit tests and validations of primary architecture design concepts •QA planning
  • 26. Project Dashboards Sample High Level Project Overview Project: Manhattan Objective Issues/Risks •Primary Manhattan rollout Project Status: Green •No current risks identified Main Focus Key Discussion Items •Usability improvements and new features, focusing on more robust client/server architecture 65% Complete •Currently performing unit tests and validations of primary architecture design concepts Timeline Primary Resources Name Role Milestone Start End GUI Developer 1. Project Charter Mar 1 --- Steve M. CLI Developer 2. Gather Requirements Mar 4 Mar 22 Amit K. API Developer 3. Design Discussions Mar 25 April 30 Jeff Wong GUI & API Developer 4. Primary Coding May 1 Aug 2 Melanie R. Graphic Artist Philip R.S. QA Engineer 5. Testing Cycle Aug 5 Aug 16 King Uber Project Sponsor 6. Beta Release Aug 19 Aug 29 Tom the Grunt Project Manager 7. Rollout Aug 30 --- Sanjay H. Dev Lead & DBA Joe Smith Mar April May June July Aug
  • 27. Summary Using and Understanding KPIs – – Picking and choosing the right KPIs to display is not always a straightforward task and in most cases will require a little trial and error Knowing how to interpret the KPIs and ensure that actionable measures can be taken must be adequately understood up front so as to have a means of mitigation if problems or changes to the project occur Displaying KPIs Effectively – – – In order to properly convey KPI and pertinent project information, leverage a dashboarding mechanism that showcases key pieces of data in easy to read tiles Each tile ‘widget’ should be properly spaced and aligned with others in the display Try to group similar KPIs into functional areas and separate them into different dashboards if too many KPIs result in clutter within a singular view 27
  • 28. Summary Conclusion – KPIs are the mechanism by which a project manager can gauge the status of their project – Picking the right KPIs is a group exercise and should be done with care – Displaying KPIs should be done in an easy to interpret fashion, minimizing clutter and ‘noise’ as much as possible – A dashboard is the most efficient way of displaying multiple KPIs in a singular view 28