3 Leading Indicators That Your Project is in Trouble

By: Steve McBroom, CEO,  Traxidy

By: Steve McBroom, CEO, Traxidy

(Click to follow on LinkedIn)

Monitoring key project metrics and trends can provide you with a clear view of the project road ahead and whether your project is under control, and continuing on the expected road, or is heading off a cliff.

Each of the following are leading indicators and project performance metrics. They provide an opportunity to react before a major correction to the plan is needed. Each of these, when available in real-time, can provide the Project Manager (PM) and the Sponsor or Project Management Office (PMO) with an early warning of potential project failure.

The ability to monitor these aspects of project delivery and project control enables a more refined view of the project status.

Three examples of leading indicators to predict project success and spot trouble ahead:

  1. The number of open and highly ranked Risks, over time
  2. The number of Actions that have become overdue, as the project progresses
  3. The number of Changes in process, and completed

Ensure you have the ability to monitor these aspects of project delivery and project control. This enables a more refined view of the project status. Seeing any of these key metrics going in the wrong direction should lead the PM or Sponsor to want to investigate further, before the approved plan and schedule or budget needs to change.

Get to the Point, in this Blog Post

1. Number of Risks Developing Over the Project Timeframe

Any project starts with a number of known project Risks. Good project risk management includes a meeting and facilitation and review of potential risks to the project, recorded in the project risk register through discussions with all stakeholders. This provides the opportunity to listen to the experience of team members and assess each risk. The top ranked risks, the ones with the highest potential impact, and probability of happening, will require mitigation and contingency planning.

Generally, it is expected that the number of ranked risks should decline over time.

The project is expected to start with a number of known risks as it gets underway. A smaller number of new Risks and potential challenges to the project plan will arise as the project executes. Generally, it is expected that the number of ranked risks should decline over time, as the risk triggers happen to pass or the risk has hit the project already. Either way these risks can be closed and reduce the number of open risks at any one time.

A large number of risks being brought into a project as it executes, is a potential indication of trouble in the project.

2. Tasks and Actions Not Completing on Time

The number of project tasks and actions not being completed on or before their approved due dates during the project execution, is another leading indicator of potential trouble. There are many reasons for Action Owners to take longer than planned to complete their Action. The resources and team members may be more constrained than planned. Interactions and communication between inter-dependant team members may not be working as expected. The process of project planning may need to be reviewed.

Project teams will start to burn-out if they are constantly cramming to ensure the delivery of their work is finished after a due date is missed.

The more times individual due dates for the tasks and actions are being missed, the greater the probability that the next phase of work will be delayed or constrained and the greater the probability of the potential for project failure.

At a minimum, project teams will start to burn-out if they are constantly cramming to ensure the delivery of their work is finished after a due date is missed.

3. Number of Changes in Process

Good Project Managers know there are times when they need to proactively start to investigate the changes to the plan, as they face issues completing any of the approved tasks and actions. Constant communication with Stakeholders (no surprises), mentor guidance and experience, along with the numbers and metrics, enables a PM to predict the potential of a task or work item not completing as planned and having enough impact on the project, to cause the need for a change to the project end date or scope or budget.

The number of changes in the project, starting from the execution, can be indicative of a project destined for trouble.

Project change management includes managing potential changes through effective procedure and control, like proactively investigating the project work issue and helping to understand the cause and effect. This can provide a future explanation to your Sponsor or Steering Committee if an official change is needed, and can potentially help to resolve the issue before an official change is required.

From monitoring the number of changes being investigated to being approved and declined, the number of changes in the project starting from the execution, can be indicative of a project destined for trouble. Some projects may be deemed a ‘failure’ simply for a single change in the planned end date.

Other Leading Indicators You Should Monitor

Other examples of leading indicators for project control includes the overall Green Yellow Red (GYR) status of the project trending across the project timeframe, the number of recorded project issues and related actions, the historic GYR of any of the main project constraints (Time, Scope and Cost), and missing or troubled milestones. Ideally, all of these indicators and project metrics should be in real-time and available in your project status reports for your Team, your Sponsor and key stakeholders.

Conclusion

Having visibility to real-time and up-to-date key project metrics provides an opportunity to review and understand the project status and potential for project trouble. Monitor key project metrics and view trends in real-time like:

  1. The number of open and highly ranked Risks, over time
  2. The number of Actions that have become overdue, as the project progresses
  3. The number of Changes in process and completed

Effectively monitor and control projects with consistent, up-to-date and real-time project metrics, trends, performance and status to ensure project success. Keep your team engaged with clear visibility to key metrics and the transparency to provide the Project Manager and the sponsor or Project Management Office with an opportunity to dig into the current situation with time to course correct and successfully deliver the project.

Traxidy provides all of these key project metrics and leading indicators in project management, and more, automatically and in real-time for each project and allows Project Managers to collaborate by project, with Sponsors and other team members to ensure improved project control and project success.

Learn more about Traxidy Project Management Tracking Software, features and capabilities here.

Similar Content

Sign up for our Project Manager Insights

Be the first to receive our Traxidy Blog and Project Manager Insights right to your in-box.

4 ways for project managers to be more successful in 2023

2023 Trends: 4 Ways for Project Managers to be More Successful

Organizations increasingly continue to rely on project-based work to drive innovation and achieve strategic objectives. As businesses and Project Managers rely on technology to manage their projects, automated project management tools will become increasingly important in

Go Solo Magazine Interviews Traxidy CEO

Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in business development but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Steve McBroom, Founder and CEO of Traxidy. What’s your business, and who are your customers? Traxidy

Automated RAID logs & Action logs versus Spreadsheets

Automated RAID logs & Action logs versus Spreadsheets (Part 1)

Project RAID logs and Action logs are critical tools to help any Project Manager effectively manage the smaller but critical and often daily Actions supporting project work and schedule. Multiple forms, lists or spreadsheets used as a RAID log to track key information involving your project, does not measure up when automated project work tracking software is available.

Project change management, project change communication, project changes

Your Project Change Management Should Never be a Surprise

The best time to confirm and/or challenge your assumptions is before the project gets underway. Project Managers need to take the time before any real project activity begins to clarify assumptions. You need to fully understand the way in which project changes will be handled for a specific project and for a specific Sponsor.

Critical Steps to Handling Project Progress Reporting

How Project Managers handle the progress reporting of project work items from the team members, is crucial to project success and the relationships with the team members. To ensure the Project Manager is successful, we have some tips for managing and assessing the work item progress as reported from team members.

Traxidy time stress

Project Status Reports: Time Wasted or Time Well Spent?

You may have to use the same template you’ve always used, or you may have started to deliver a new report based on a new template for a new audience or client. Either way, the project status report should always be judged by the value of the information versus the amount of time you may have spent to produce the report.

5 Tips to Simplify Project Risk Management

When you think about project risk management, there can be a seemingly endless number of possible risks to any project. From the small and minor to the large and scary. From the potential asteroid hitting to the people from a specific department being too busy doing their real job there is the possibility of a very long list. Here’s five tips to simplify project risk management for greater project success.

Traxidy Project Status Meetings

How to Get the Best Results from Project Team Meetings

The Project Manager doesn’t work alone. One way you can be more successful working with your team, is to make the best use of everyone’s time when you are together as a group. These facilitation tips will make your project team meetings more successful.