What is Project and Process Metrics

What is Project and Process Metrics?

Last updated on 30th Sep 2020, Artciles, Blog

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Without measuring, we can’t tell an object’s length or speed. We can’t determine how far we’ve come since we started a journey. It’s impossible to know whether a project was a success or failure without measuring its effectiveness.

The growth of available data has prompted organizations to increasingly rely on metrics for a variety of business operations, including project management. Measurement practices have been integrated into projects to support fact-based project selection and decision-making. They help management understand capabilities and facilitate better planning for production, service delivery or product development. Metrics can help control costs, improve quality and identify important industry trends.

Project management metrics allow companies to determine the success of a project, and help project managers evaluate a project’s status, foresee risks and assess team productivity and quality of work. As a tool, metrics can provide many good reasons to implement them.

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Read on to learn more about creating good metrics, which metrics are useful, what they measure and how to implement them.

Creating Good Metrics

Each project manager typically has different objectives, and metrics that work well for one business might not work for another. For that reason, it’s important to tailor metrics and reporting to your business’s unique needs. However, keep in mind that broad appeal and approval may be easier when metrics focus on customers, with success defined from a business point of view. Here are some additional tips:

  • Keep definitions of KPIs and metrics simple and useful
  • Plan for the long term, including setting things up for comparison to competitors
  • Get senior management’s buy-in
  • Ensure that underlying data is both available and credible
  • Communicate the need to gather metrics, along with your goals and purpose
  • Be sure you have the budget and staff needed to support your metrics plan

5 Useful Metrics for Project Management

Different project management metrics can be defined based on a project’s objective and complexity. However, the following five typically cover the most important measurements:

  • Productivity – This metric allows project managers to assess the utilization of resources. It compares the total effort to the budgeted effort, which has a direct impact on the bottom line. Delays in the timeline, underperformance by staff or vendor and unavoidable circumstances can all impact the productivity metric.
  • Scope of Work – A project’s scope is typically established right up front, but changes and additions can derail even the best project manager’s efforts. Tracking change requests is necessary, to control them and keep the project on time and budget.
  • Quality and Satisfaction – Quality assurance is a truly customer-focused metric. Assuring low defects throughout the project, as well as a quality deliverable at its end, should be part of every project. Catching defects early can also help prevent the entire project from losing focus and failing.
  • Cost – Measuring how costs are managed is often critical to a project’s success. Cost management is related to other variables, such as quality, scope and productivity, so if it varies above or below projections, the project can suffer. Ideally, cost is closely monitored throughout the project so if costs rise unexpectedly, variables such as scope or time are adjusted and the project can still achieve its objectives.
  • Gross Margin – Typically, a project’s ultimate goal is to contribute to the organization by increasing profits. The gross margin is the difference between total income achieved and total costs spent on the project. A project should have a target gross margin established in the planning stages, and it should be measured throughout. Project managers who achieve or exceed target gross margins are often extremely valuable.

Once metrics have been clearly defined to suit your organization’s needs, it’s time to begin implementing them. First, communicate with users to help them understand the process, its importance and how metrics can help improve projects. Provide clear examples, such as “the dashboard will show us where we lack documentation, so we can prevent delays by gathering needed information.”

Create a metrics plan with guidelines everyone can understand, which may help you gain support. Explain the metrics you will be tracking, how you’ll track them and the objectives you hope to achieve. Then, start implementing the plan. Remember that metrics should lead to action, otherwise, they may not be useful. Correct the plan as you identify unusable metrics.

Project Management Metrics for Long-Term Value

Tracking these five project management metrics can help give project managers better control over the project and better odds for success. Over time, organizations can gain insights into which methods are successful and which ones need finer tuning. This can also allow time to make improvements for later projects. Finally, implementing project management metrics can build historical data to help improve future planning, and allow for comparisons.

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Process and Project Metrics

A software metric is a measure of some property of a piece of software or its specifications. Since quantitative measurements are essential in all sciences, there is a continuous effort by computer science practitioners and theoreticians to bring similar approaches to software development. The goal is obtaining objective, reproducible and quantifiable measurements, which may have numerous valuable applications in schedule and budget planning, cost estimation, quality assurance testing, software debugging, software performance optimization, and optimal personnel task assignments.


  • Common software measurements include: 
  • Balanced scorecard
  • Bugs per line of code 
  • Code coverage
  • Cohesion
  • Comment density 
  • Connascent software components
  • Coupling 
  • Cyclomatic complexity (McCabe’s complexity)
  • DSQI (design structure quality index) 
  • Function point analysis 
  • Halstead Complexity
  • nstruction path length
  • Maintainability index
  • Number of classes and interfaces
  • Number of lines of code 
  • Number of lines of customer requirements
  • Program execution time
  • Program load time
  • Program size (binary)
  • Robert Cecil Martin’s software package metrics
  • Weighted Micro Function Points
  • Function Points and Automated Function Points, an Object Management Group standarD
  • CISQ automated quality characteristics measures


As software development is a complex process, with high variance on both methodologies and objectives, it is difficult to define or measure software qualities and quantities and to determine a valid and concurrent measurement metric, especially when making such a prediction prior to the detail design. Another source of difficulty and debate is in determining which metrics matter, and what they mean.The practical utility of software measurements has therefore been limited to the following domains:

  • Scheduling
  • Software sizing
  • Programming complexity
  • Software development effort estimation
  • Software quality

A specific measurement may target one or more of the above aspects, or the balance between them, for example as an indicator of team motivation or project performance.


Some software development practitioners point out that simplistic measurements can cause more harm than good. Others have noted that metrics have become an integral part of the software development process.

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Impact of measurement on programmers psychology have raised concerns for harmful effects to performance due to stress, performance anxiety, and attempts to cheat the metrics, while others find it to have positive impact on developers value towards their own work, and prevent them being undervalued Some argue that the definition of many measurement methodologies are imprecise, and consequently it is

often unclear how tools for computing them arrive at a particular result while others argue that imperfect quantification is better than none (“You can’t control what you can’t measure” Evidence shows that

software metrics are being widely used by government agencies, the US military, NASA, IT consultants, academic institutions, and commercial and academic development estimation software.

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