Project Metrics

A project metric is measurement of quantifiable activities of project management and it’s also denoted as key performance indicator (KPI).

Project metrics measures the progress of the project within specified set of activities in project plan. A metric is unit of measure which project managers can use to collect and report project data to gauge the progress.

Metrics and indicators used for the evaluation of the IT projects management have the advantage of providing rigorous details about the required effort and the boundaries of the IT deliverables. There are some disadvantages, as well, due to the fact the input data contains errors and the value of metrics depends on the quality of data used in models”- Radu (2010).

The data representation is very important in project metrics; the collected data must be presented in meaningful way so that the project managers can take appropriate action based collected data when required.

For most of the projects in general and Information Technology projects in particular; the project metrics can be collected directly or indirectly; for example how much project is late from its deadline defined earlier; or how many functional or non-functional defects found; actual versus planned task completions, number of resources planned versus actual resource utilization. These metrics can also be deducted from direct quantifiable observations for example number of defects per module or any performance deficiencies found in load testing of software project. Project metrics can be grouped into following set of categories:

Project Management Metrics

The project management metrics are objectively measurable items in project management activities. These metrics plays very important role in controlling the project; it allows project managers to take counter measures if anything goes wrong.

Historically the project management metrics were used to measure the project success only but it should also measure the benefits of project to the business while measuring the project success.

Earn Value Management (EVM) is one of the most important metrics for project which include cost variance, schedule performance in project lifecycle.

EVM as defined by PMI standard PMBOK, is the commonly used method to track this metric. Following are the important project metrics:


Cost metric is basically measures the cost variance; it can be denoted as Cost Performance Index (CPI) is equal to Earned Value (EV) divided by Actual Cost (AC); for example, CPI = EV x AC. CPI measures the cost variance of planned cost and actual effort performed to complete the project.

The Earned Value (EV) is the actual approved budget for the project on scheduled completion date; also denoted as budgeted cost of work. AC is the actual cost project consumed that is measured after project completion date it is also denoted as Actual Cost of Work Performed (ACWP).

Time Schedule

The time metric is used to measure time variance in project schedule; it can be measured by the formula as Schedule Performance Index (SPI) is equal to Earned Value (EV) divided by Planned Value (PV) defined as formula i.e. SPI = EV x PV.

The Schedule Performance Index is basically the ratio of budget approved for work against the actual work performed and the Earned Value (EV) is the actual approved budget for the project on scheduled completion date; also denoted as budgeted cost of work (ACWP), and PV is the effort estimation on the time of project planning. The examples of schedule metrics are milestones, reviews, completion dates activities etc.


This metric is used to measure the utilization of resources, here project managers can access over-utilization & underutilization of planned and actual resources.

It can also be denoted by formula: Resource Utilization Percentage is equal to total effort spent divided by budgeted effort by resource i.e. Utilization% = Effort spent by Resource / Effort planned for resource.

That is the most important metric and needs to be monitored very closely by project manager because resources and worked to be performed is the core of project and that is what the whole mess of project management activities is built for; if the resource utilization is (accurate) than there is fair chance of project to be successful.

Project manager can take corrective action based of resource over-utilization or under-utilization or in case of any other issue related to resources this effort distribution  can also be helpful in the areas where improvement is required and this can also be utilized as business success metric for future projects.


The scope of the project is established once the customer signed off; that will become the baseline for project development phase. Any change in the scope is tracked by this metric; all changes requests has impact on cost and schedule of the project and needs to be approved by customer.

This metric has vital role in project lifecycle as its controls the scope; for the projects with uncontrolled scope changes may results in scope creep which in turn has negative impacts on cost and schedule which may lead the project towards failure.

Each change request must be approved by customer and scope and cost of project must me recalculated and communicated to all stakeholders be proceeding with the change.


Quality assurance is an important project metric; quality indicates the project health and its number of defects found in the user acceptance testing. The quality also drive the customer satisfaction after initial usage of the output product.

In order to measure the quality of the project defect density, age, and resolution rate are key terms to be calculated as Defect Density is equal to Total number of defects divided by measuring unit (i.e. defects per 1000 lines of source code for software projects.); defect age is the number of days customer have to wait for defect resolution or the time interval between defect reported and resolved.

The defect resolution rate the total number of defects resolved divided by the total time spent on each one to get resolved. The defects found in user acceptance testing (UAT) or the defect found by customer simply has the higher priority to the ones found internal testing; so project manager should keep track defect and their priorities.

Action Items

These are the items need to be corrected and left behind the schedule. The project manager needs to take appropriate corrective action on these items, although these items usually are not show stoppers, but they still need to be taken care in order to keep the project floating smoothly.

In our team we have sprint retrospective meeting once after every two sprint where we identify action items i.e. what went wrong and well? And list as good and bad; for good items the corresponding team members are appropriated and for bad items we list down as action item needs to be treated in coming sprints practice.

Project Success Metrics

The project success metrics define the measures for the project success. What makes project to be successful? What is the scale of project success?

Completing project on time within the allotted budget does not mean the project is successful it’s the feedback from the customer actually decides the success of the product. The project success metrics include the stakeholder satisfaction, issue resolution ratio, output product usability i.e. how easy for end users to use software.

These metrics also plays very important role in overall organization or business success for future projects.

Business Success Metrics

The business success metrics defines the measures for business success at enterprise level.

These include the cost saving from utilization of metrics from other or past projects, return of investment for project, and enhancement of core business operations, customer satisfaction and employee satisfaction.

Using Microsoft Project for Metrics

Microsoft Project is excellent tool for professional project management it provides rich set of features to manage, track and control your project. Its integration with Microsoft Office suite i.e. MS Excel makes it even more flexible and usable.

In MS Project you can define various tasks and track the project as planned versus actual scheduled and cost. For each of the tasks you can see the priority, schedule, variance and estimated duration along with other properties.

MS Project 2013 introduced some new cool features which includes management with Gantt chart, burned down reports, and various data reporting techniques.