Use a balanced scorecard to declare success on your project

One way to know whether your project is successful is by gaining agreement on a set of measures that define success--and then achieving those measures.

How do you know for sure that your project is successful? You might hit your budget and deadline, but is that the only criteria for success? One way to know whether your project is successful is by gaining agreement on a set of measures that define success—and then achieving those measures. The tool that you use to define the metrics is called a Balanced Scorecard. Here is the overall process used to create the Balance Scorecard.

Identify criteria for success

Review the objectives and deliverables in the Project Definition, as well as any other existing information that is relevant to the project. Based on this existing documentation, define the information that is needed to show that the project was successful. This can be discerned from two perspectives:

  • Internal. These characteristics indicate that the project was managed and executed effectively and efficiently.
  • External. These characteristics indicate that your project objectives were completed successfully.

Assign potential metrics

Tips in your inbox
Looking for expert IT project management? Get the help you need from TechRepublic's free Project Management newsletter, delivered each Wednesday.
Automatically sign up today!

Identify potential metrics for each success criteria that provide an indication of whether you are on track for success. These can be direct, quantifiable metrics or indirect metrics that give a sense for success criteria.

Look for a balance

The potential list of metrics should be placed into categories to make sure they provide a balanced view of the project. For instance, you don't want to end up with only a set of financial metrics, even though they might be easiest to obtain. In general, look for metrics that provide information in the areas such as:

  • Cost
  • Effort
  • Duration
  • Productivity
  • Quality of deliverables
  • Client satisfaction with the deliverables produced
  • Project team performance
  • Business value delivered

Prioritize the balanced list of metrics

Depending on how many metrics you have identified, prioritize the list to include only those that have the least cost to collect and provide the most value to the project. There can certainly be as many metrics collected as make sense for the project, but there may end up being no more than one or two per category. Five to eight total metrics would be about right.

Set targets

The raw metric may be of some interest, but the measure of success comes from comparing your actuals against a predefined target. The target provides the context to know if the metric is good, bad, or moving in the right direction. The target may be a single value you are trying to achieve or it may be a range. For instance, you may need to complete your project by a certain fixed date, but your actual cost might need to be +/- 10% of approved budget.

Use activities to your workplan

For each metric that remains, determine the specific activities necessary to collect and analyze the information. These activities are then added to the project workplan.

Once you have done these steps at the beginning of the project, your team and your clients will understand the criteria that will indicate success. This allows the team to focus on achieving the success criteria during the project.

Editor's Picks

Free Newsletters, In your Inbox