April 2, 2024

Top 10 Project Management KPIs in Project Management Tracking

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Top project management KPIs:

  • Resource utilization.
  • Budget variance.
  • On-time completion rate.
  • Planned value (PV).
  • Earned value (PV).
  • Cost performance index (CPI).
  • Project ROI (return on investment).
  • Schedule performance index (CPI).

Apr. 2, 2024: Irene Casucian rewrote the page to provide descriptions and formulas for the KPIs that are most commonly tracked in project management.

Top 8 project management KPIs

There are integral KPIs that you should monitor, regardless of the type of industry or project management methodology you follow. Here’s a list of the most common yet vital project management KPIs you should consider.

1. Resource utilization

Resource utilization is a key performance indicator that helps measure efficiency by calculating the ratio of time spent on a task to the total available time. For example, automating time-consuming manual tasks generally lowers resource utilization rates.

Best forProject management offices and consulting firms
FormulaResource utilization = Reported time / Total available time

2. Project ROI (return on investment)

Paying attention to your project’s ROI is essential for making informed decisions. It represents the rate of net profit over the total investment cost. By analyzing ROI, organizations can prioritize projects with the highest potential for financial return.

Best forDeliverable-oriented projects
FormulaROI = (Net profit  / Total investment cost) × 100

3. Budget variance

Budget variance measures the difference between the estimated expenses and actual figures. This KPI keeps financial goals in check and helps stakeholders make more strategic plans by analyzing monetary trends. A positive result indicates spending below budget, zero means spending is on target, and a negative result indicates overspending.

Best forProjects that need to keep a close eye on cost control
FormulaBV = Forecasted value (FV) – Actual value (AV)

4. On-time completion rate

The on-time completion percentage represents the ratio of tasks completed within their scheduled time frames to the total number of completed tasks. A high on-time completion percentage means that your team is efficient and reliable. However, a low rate means that you have project planning and execution issues. It may also be a sign of stress and burnout within employees.

Best forProjects that have tight deadlines
FormulaOn-time completion rate = (Number of tasks completed on time / Total number of tasks) × 100

5. Planned value (PV)

Planned value measures the estimated cost of project activities planned to date. Generally, a high planned value (PV) can be a positive indicator in project management. However, its interpretation depends on the context of other project metrics like earned value (EV) and actual cost (AC).

Best forProjects that have limited budgets and high-impact timelines
FormulaPV = (Remaining scheduled hours) × (Team member’s hourly rate)
or
PV = (Percentage of remaining tasks) × (Project budget)

6. Earned value (EV)

Earned value (EV) represents the worth of work done to date. To compute earned value, you must multiply the percentage of completed work by the original budget allocated to the project.

Best forHigh-risk projects that have multiple dependencies
FormulaEV = Percentage of work completed × Total budget allocated for the project

7. Cost performance index (CPI)

Cost performance index, or CPI, defines the ratio of completed work to the amount of money it took to get it done. It’s an ideal way to decide whether you’re using your financial resources strategically.

To compute, divide the earned value (EV) by the actual cost (AC) or the real money spent on the task. A CPI greater than one indicates a project is under budget, equal to 1 signifies on budget, and less than one means over budget.

Best forProjects at risk of budget overrun
FormulaCPI = Earned value (EV) / Actual cost (EV)​

8. Schedule performance index (SPI)

Schedule performance index (SPI) measures time management efficiency and represents the earned versus planned value ratio. Comparable to CPI, an SPI greater than 1 indicates the project is ahead of schedule, while an SPI less than 1 suggests the project is behind schedule. 

This KPI provides a straightforward way to gauge how closely the project’s actual progress matches its planned progress.

Best forProjects that have time-sensitive milestones
FormulaSPI = Earned value (EV) / Planned value (PV)

Project management KPI FAQs

KPIs or key performance indicators are essential parameters project managers use to measure a project’s impact and progress. Stakeholders use KPIs to gauge whether or not their projects are on track and headed in the right direction. By setting clear, measurable KPIs, project managers can make informed decisions and make necessary adjustments during the execution and monitoring phases of project management.

Aside from making informed decisions and adjustments whenever necessary, you should track project management KPIs for the following reasons: 

  • Manage risks: KPIs serve as an early warning system for potential risks and issues. By identifying off-track KPIs early, you can mitigate risks before they become significant problems.
  • Increase in stakeholder satisfaction: KPIs provide transparent and quantifiable progress measures to increase stakeholder trust and satisfaction.
  • Continuous improvement: Tracking and analyzing KPIs across multiple projects lets you gather insights and lessons learned. This knowledge can be applied to future projects, which you can use to foster a culture of continuous improvement within your organization.

To create the most effective set of KPIs for your project, you should first understand your project goals. Ask yourself what you want to achieve in this project and the key factors you need to keep in check to get there. Identify your short-term and long-term goals; your KPIs should align with them. Also, consider the frequency or how often you should check them.  

In setting up your KPIs, the key is quality, not quantity. Being strategic when selecting your KPIs will give your project a better fighting chance of achieving its goals. It will also help the project sail through execution and monitoring successfully.


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