I have a lot of friends who have Fitbits. They’re those wrist watch-like things that people wear to measure their heartbeat and the number of steps they take per day. Many of them compete with each other on how many steps they get in each day.
The implication of this is that the steps are making them healthy (fit is in the name of the device after all). But they should also consider aspects such as the number and type of calories they consume. If all they measure is their steps, there’s a risk of limited health benefits.
The same goes for project managers in the effort of realizing project value. You can have all sorts of metrics and measurements, but if achieving the targets of those measurements doesn’t translate into project value, you’re likely just wasting your time.
How to measure value
Measuring project value requires the project manager to determine the purpose of the project. Why does the business want this project implemented? Projects are implemented for many reasons. The effort can help them cut costs, increase revenue, or simply reduce risk.
Depending on that purpose, measurements should be put in place to ensure that the project’s purpose will be accomplished.
For instance, if a project is initiated with the purpose of increasing revenues, determine how those increased revenues will be realized. Devise measurements that will accurately gauge whether those revenues will be achieved. These measurements should be demonstrated as part of the periodic status to the executive team each time they meet.
On time and on budget
Many projects are measured on their ability to meet their time and budget constraints. While these aren’t necessarily bad measures, they only measure the cost aspect of the project. Staying within these parameters has nothing to do with realizing project value.
A company that is losing money can cut costs by removing all of their sales staff. They may meet budget constraints by falling within their cost parameters. But without a sales staff, they significantly remove their ability to bring in revenues. They will continue to be within their budget until they go out of business.
If all you measure on your project is your costs, you never know if the project is worth the cost you controlled so admirably. There are times when cost overruns are worth the investment if the value added makes it worth it.
A purpose for everything
Everything you do and say should have a purpose. Every project should have a purpose. And everything that you do as part of that project should push the team closer to that purpose.
Every task, meeting, and email that takes place on a project should be driven by the purpose of adding value to the project’s purpose. It is a major part of the project manager’s role to monitor those activities to ensure that they are prioritized with that goal in mind.
When an email thread goes off task, or a meeting isn’t in line with what the project is trying to accomplish, the project manager should step in and redirect the team.
It’s not a straight progression
Accomplishing value on a project will not always be a constant slope toward the project’s end. If meetings are held weekly, the amount of value that it achieves will vary from week to week. Hopefully, value is taken away only on rare occasions when the project experiences a setback. But the velocity at which you are realizing project value will have weeks of acceleration and weeks of stagnation. It is often hard to measure value accurately until a major milestone is reached. And those are not always reached on a weekly basis.
Management doesn’t always understand that and it’s up to the project manager to set expectations on how value is added based on milestones and when those milestones will be met.
Realizing project value should be a goal of every project manager. Develop an understanding of the project’s purpose and have an awareness of the value the project is intended to deliver. Develop measurements that will measure that value and report on it regularly.
How good are you at realizing project value?
If you would like to learn more about a career in Project Management, get Lew’s book Project Management 101: 101 Tips for Success in Project Management on Amazon.
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