The sweet smell of success

How do you know a project delivered what it was supposed to? How do you measure success?

For a project, you need more than simply stating requirements and then delivering them. You need to be able to show how your deliverable is providing benefit.

  • Did your project provide the benefits you expected?
  • Are you realizing more benefit than expected?
  • Are you not realizing the gains you envisioned?
Targets or performance metrics are setup to be used for the purpose of determining the success or failure of a project. Some projects are intended to save money by automating inefficient processes while others are intended to improve productivity. Business processes have key metrics that show their relative health and performance. Depending on the nature of your situation, some sample metrics may include:
  • Calls handled per hour
  • Transactions per minute
  • Average transaction time
  • Sales per transaction
  • Concurrent users

When establishing measurement criteria there are a few pieces of information that you need to consider:

  1. Your company's current performance level. Viewing trends over time is better than a snapshot, however, this assumes that ongoing monitoring has been setup. Trends may indicate improving or declining conditions.
  2. Understanding how companies with similar processes perform. This will give you an idea of the norm.
  3. How much you believe the initiative can improve your key processes. Make sure that you are realistic with your expectations. If your company severely underperforms the industry average it may not be realistic to expect that you can overperform the industry after an initiative. It will take a lot of time to catch-up and then surpass the industry average.

In a previous post, Defining requirements by priority, I wrote on utilizing expected benefit and natural dependencies between components to determine which requirements you would gather first. In order to calculate the benefits, you would have had to understand how well your company is performing and how much you think you may improve performance (cost or whatever the key measure is.) In essence, your key performance metrics may already be buried within your calculations.

I feel that your key performance indicators should be identified early in the initiative. If you do not know the important drivers, how are you going to improve your business?

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