Metrics for Project-Based Organizations

Insights from Brad Antle, CEO of Salient Federal Solutions, at the 4th Annual Unanet Customer Meeting in Reston, VA.

For the start up company, the CEOs "on the ground" experience minimizes the need for metrics as a way to monitor projects.  For established companies, the CEO requires metrics from his middle managers in order to monitor the success of key projects.  Also beneficial are daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly and yearly metrics reports to provide insight into the success of projects.

Why do we need metrics?

As Edwards Deming noted, “If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it”.

But there must be relevance to the business. Many customers have abandoned Earned Value Management for a multitude of reasons, including:

  • You no longer have the detailed metrics required to measure performance by task.
  • In some cases, metrics were for metrics sake.
  • Nothing was done with the metrics, improvements were not the goal.

So ask yourself the question … “Should I always use metrics? Well …

  • It depends on your objectives
  • The more important the project, the greater need for metrics (monitoring)
  • You need to know what you are going to do with the results before you start to measure.

Finding the Right Balance of Metrics

The most rudimentary metrics can be pulled from your timesheet software.

Secondly, get a snapshot of resource utilization:

  • How much billable time is being billed?
  • Every organization has the right balance of utilization – what is yours in order to have the right level of profitability while avoiding burn out and supporting ongoing learning?
  • When you find and set your utilization numbers they are easy to monitor

Some common important metrics for measuring the organization are:

  • Trends in direct labor
  • Utilization
  • Total Backlog
  • Funded Backlog
  • Days Sales Outstanding

What monthly metrics might a CEO want to review:

  • Detailed financials for each P&L
  • Overhead rates and trends
  • G&A rates and trends
  • Cash flow projections
  • Work at risk
  • Balance sheet

 

 

"I love Unanet! It is great that you can run a report and easily see who is available, what projects a person is assigned to, and how many hours people are charging."- Michelle Graffin Controller, Orbital Technologies
An invoice that used to take 1 person 2-3 days that is now complete in 30 minutes, and a report that used to take 2 hours that is now produced in 2 minutes! - TJ Guarino, Tessada

 

"I’ve never done a timesheet so fast in my life! What an incredible change. I’m so glad we switched. They’ve really done a lot to polish it up, too."- Paco Hope Managing Consultant Cigital, Inc.
"Unanet billing is so great. I don't know why anyone wouldn't use this!"- Jackie York Controller, Quallion
Being able to see where we are on projects REAL TIME instead of waiting for Monday processing has made it much easier to let clients know exactly where we are with their projects. Unanet has set a higher standard for project reporting and there is more to come!. - Jenny Clark director, solvability