Project management metrics

Project Management Metrics

As the saying goes, "You can't manage what you don't measure." Tracking project management metrics is about tracking tasks and campaign data. Then, you can use analysis and some basic math to optimize your work and celebrate success.

If you're looking for a quick overview, here’s our project management metrics cheatsheet.

project management metrics cheat sheet

Read on as we go over the basics of project management metrics, and we’ll also do a deep dive into those 13 project management metrics.

What are project management metrics

Project management metrics give businesses data sets, algorithms, and calculations to measure the overall success of projects.

With project management metrics you can quickly see:

  • How far along a project is

  • How effective the team is

  • How close you are to meeting your deadline

  • How much money you have left to spend 

What is the purpose of project management metrics?

Project management metrics help you make informed decisions about deadlines and deliverables, so you can discover which projects are on time and which need to be optimized. 

Here are some of the benefits of monitoring project management metrics:

  • Show stakeholders your team's value with productivity rate and return on investment (ROI) metrics.

  • Improve team performance and management processes by monitoring utilization rate and customer satisfaction rate.

  • Examine your project health with employee satisfaction rate and scheduled variance calculations.

  • Identify critical tasks that need your attention with realization rate and planned value.

  • Alert team members to potential problems before they spiral out of control.

Using Agile project management software could be an excellent way to collect and analyze data accurately.

13 project management metrics

Now let’s take a deeper look at 13 project management metrics. We’ll talk about each one’s purpose, and their calculation formulas to help you get off to a good start with your next project.

  1. Productivity rate

  2. Utilization rate

  3. Realization rate

  4. Cost variance

  5. Planned Value

  6. Earned Value

  7. Actual Cost

  8. Gross Profit Margin

  9. Customer Satisfaction

  10. Employee Satisfaction

  11. Schedule Variance

  12. Cost Performance Index (CPI)

  13. Return on Investment (ROI)

1. Productivity rate

This metric examines how effectively your company utilizes its resources and how efficiently it operates.

This formula helps you answer the question: after all the effort put into the project, how much do I feel like I am getting back?

The goal here is to increase productivity—that is, to have more output with less input.

Productivity = units of input / units of output

productivity rate formula Tracking requirements

  • Number of tasks in project scope

  • Number of tasks completed in project scope

2. Utilization rate

Utilization rate is a way to review your resource utilization. It's the total number of hours each team member works as opposed to the total bank of their available hours. 

It’s impossible to have a utlization rate of 100%—coffee breaks, downtime caused by technology, or cleaning up one’s desk can decrease utilization.

The utilization rate is a percentage. So, an employee who works 30 out of 40 available hours has a utilization rate of 75%.

Utilization rate = hours worked / total available hours

utilization rate formulaTracking requirements

  • Number of hours allocated to the project team

  • Number of hours worked by the project team

  • Number of hours left on the project

3. Realization rate

Realization rate is more complex than utilization rate. It’s the percentage difference between the total number of billed hours and the total number of available billable hours.

Realization rate doesn't count the time spent on training, administrative tasks, and in-house work.

Realization rate = total billed hours / total billable hours 

realization rate formulaTracking requirements

  • Total billable hours

Total available hours

4. Cost variance 

The cost variance shows the difference between the planned budget and the actual cost of work.

What is the difference between the actual costs and your estimate? You're over budget if the cost variance is negative; otherwise, you're under budget if it's positive.

Cost variance = earned value – actual cost

cost variance formulaTracking requirements

  • Total project budget

  • Actual project costs 

5. Planned value

This metric focuses on the scheduled value, not the actual value. It shows the ideal value you should have reached if the project was on track.

The project's completion rate and overall budget are the only factors you need to consider when calculating planned value.

You should be able to see both of these numbers at a glance with any user-friendly project management software like Hubstaff Tasks.

Planned value = planned % complete X budget

planned value formulaTracking requirements

  • Project completion percentage

  • Project budget 

6. Earned value 

Planned value tells you how much the project is supposed to cost, while earned value tells you how much it costs. You calculate earned value on the work you've already done, not the tasks you should have done.  

When you compare the earned value to the planned value, you can quickly tell if you're ahead of or behind schedule.

Earned value = actual % complete X budget 

earned value formulaTracking requirements

  • Project completion percentage

  • Project budget

7. Actual cost

Actual cost shows how much money you spent on the project. 

How much money have you spent so far?

It's easy to figure out your actual costs; add all the money spent on the project. You can use actual costs to calculate other helpful project management metrics on this list.

Actual cost = total costs

actual cost formulaTracking requirements

  • All costs associated with the project

8. Gross profit margin

Ultimately, all projects should work towards increasing your bottom line. Gross profit margin can reveal success or failure quicker than other project management metrics. 

The larger the profit margin, the more successful the business is likely to be. 

To figure out the gross profit margin, you subtract all of the project's costs from the total amount of money made, then divide that by 100.

Gross profit margin = (total profit - actual costs) / 100

gross profit formulaTracking requirements

  • Revenue or value derived from the project

  • All receipts, bills, and expenses

9. Customer satisfaction 

Customer satisfaction measures your service or product's quality.

Use a satisfaction survey to ask customers to review their experience with a company following a recent interaction or purchase. The customer is usually asked to rate the service on a scale, for example, from 1 to 10. 

Does the product or service meet real customer needs?

The Customer Satisfaction Index (CSI) is the most extensively used system for measuring customer satisfaction. 

NPS is another way to capture customer satisfaction. NPS measures customer satisfaction by asking whether the customer would recommend the product or service. 

Customer satisfaction = (total survey points / total questions) x 100

customer satisfaction formulaTracking requirements

  • Customer engagement surveys 

10. Employee satisfaction 

Employee satisfaction is often measured through surveys. In some ways, calculating employee satisfaction is similar to calculating customer satisfaction.

The success of a project is strongly influenced by the morale of the people working on it. Therefore, employee satisfaction a key factor in project management.

Employee satisfaction = (total survey points / total questions) x 100

employee satisfaction formulaTracking requirements

  • Employee engagement surveys 

11. Schedule variance 

Schedule variance is a metric that uses planned and budgeted cost of work scheduled to determine whether or not a project is ahead or behind schedule.

What is your project status? Find out if your project is running ahead of or behind the planned budget and schedule.

To calculate schedule variance, subtract budgeted work accomplished from planned work. The result is the difference between work planned and completed work. A negative schedule variance indicates your project is behind schedule.

Schedule variance = earned value - planned value 

schedule variance formula Tracking requirements

  • Project completion percentage

  • Project budget 

12. Cost performance index (CPI)

A key metric to see if your project is cost effective is your cost performance index (CPI).

To figure out your cost performance index (CPI), divide the value of the work done (earned value) by how much it actually cost to do the work.

Cost performance index (CPI) = earned value / actual costs

Cost performance index (CPI) formulaTracking requirements

  • Project completion percentage

  • Project budget 

  • All costs associated with the project 

13. Return on investment (ROI)

Return on investment (ROI) shows how much money was made compared to how much you spent on a project.

To correctly determine ROI, a dollar amount must be assigned to each data unit, giving you your net benefits. 

Some of the benefits of tracking ROI include:

  • Reduced expenses

  • Increased productivity

  • Improved profitability 

ROI = (net benefits / costs) x 100

Return on investment (ROI) formulaTracking requirements

  • All costs associated with the project

  • Revenue or value derived from the project

How to choose the right metrics for your project?

Make sure you are monitoring the right metrics. Don't just measure for the sake of measuring. 

Your first step should be to consider how valuable the metrics will be for your project and business.

  • What is the purpose of your project?

  • What are the critical success factors in determining project success?

  • What do you need to make informed business decisions?

Use the answers to these questions to help you choose the right metrics for the project. 

Then you must ensure you can accurately track the actions needed for each project management metric you want to measure.

  1. Do you track team members' time working on project tasks?

  2. Are you aware of when project management deliverables reach completion? 

  3. Can you track project costs against your budget?

Monitoring the relevant activities and providing actionable project management metrics will make your projects worthwhile.

Any metric you measure should be precise. In project management metrics, ambiguity leads to inconsistent analysis.

How do you know if your project management metrics are precise?

  1. Metrics must be consistent and predictable

  2. The measurement tools must be accurate

Choose your project management metrics carefully. Don't just measure something because it is industry-standard. Choose metrics that will enhance your decision-making, backed by accurate data.

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