Project performance

Regularly monitoring your project’s schedule performance can provide early indications of possible activity-coordination problems, resource conflicts, and cost overruns that may occur in the future. The following sections show you what information you nee

Regularly monitoring your project’s schedule performance can provide early indications of possible activity-coordination problems, resource conflicts, and cost overruns that may occur in the future. The following sections show you what information you need to monitor schedule performance, how to collect and evaluate it, and how to ensure its accuracy. As we have touched on several times already, another key aspect of project control is measuring and reporting project performance. Keep these following principles in mind, you can adapt your performance reporting process to best meet the needs of your project environment:

Answer the Big Three Questions—As a rule, key stakeholders want to know the answers to these three questions when reviewing project performance:
1. Where do we stand (in regard to the critical success factors)?
2. What variances exist, what caused them, and what are we doing about them?
3. Has the forecast changed?

Defining the data to collect

You can describe an activity’s status either by noting whether it’s started, in progress, or finished, or by indicating the portion of the activity that’s been completed. Be careful if you decide to use percent completed to indicate an activity’s progress. Most often, this measure represents only a guess because you have no clear way to determine this percentage. For example, saying that your new product design is 30 percent complete is virtually meaningless because you can’t determine how much of the thinking and creating is actually done. Suggesting that you have completed 30 percent of your design because you have expended 30 of the 1 00 hours budgeted for the task or because three of the ten days allotted for its performance have passed is equally incorrect. The first indicator is a measure of resource use, and the second is a measure of time elapsed. Neither measure indicates the amount of substantive work completed.

Monitoring work effort

Comparing work effort expended with work effort planned can highlight when people are incorrectly expanding or reducing the scope of an activity, are more or less qualified than you anticipated, are encountering unexpected difficulties performing the work, and warn of the possibility of using up allocated work effort before your project ends.

Monitoring expenditures

You monitor your project’s financial expenditures to verify that they’re in accordance with the project plan and, if they’re not, to determine how to address any deviations. You may think that you can determine project funds used to date and funds remaining by just reading the balance in your project’s financial account (the project’s checkbook). However, spending project funds entails several steps before you actually pay for an item. As you complete each step, you have a better sense of whether you will incur the expenditure and, if you do, its exact amount.

You evaluate your project’s financial performance by comparing the actual expenditures with those you planned. TaskBeat displays typical cost report that presents expenditures for the current performance period and from the beginning of the project for different levels of work activities.