Perhaps more than ever, in these days of tightened budgets and questionable ROI, squeezing every dollar possible out of your IT projects is essential. Business intelligence provides you with some unique helpful techniques to measure your project success and earned value as well as using those metrics to improve your project performance. In this entry, I will talk a little bit about earned value, predictions and overall project portfolio performance. The actual tracking systems that you are using to track schedules, resources, portfolios or budgets do not matter for this chat. They can be Excel, MS-Project or any other project management tool. The idea will be to extract those into a data warehouse or directly into a cube in SSAS so that you can perform mining, create scorecards and predictive models.

Starting with earned value, you will want to extract actuals & plans and let SSAS create forecasts for you. The key metrics here will be cost variance (earned value - actual cost), CPI or cost performance index (EV/AC) and SPI or schedule performance index. Viewing the s-curves in your Excel spreadsheet or SSRS report when monitoring your project performance against these KPIs is crucial. History shows that once your project goes over budget, it is nearly impossible to make that up later. Earned value measures are an ideal way to monitor your project scope and cost performance.

When measuring your project schedule performance, you will first need to set your baseline and continuously measure your performance against that baseline. This is achieved by exporting actual schedules and budgets from your GANTT in Microsoft Project and your costs either from Project or ERP such as SAP, Dynamics, etc. Having a weekly snapshot of this data should be sufficient for most IT projects.

By storing your project data such as schedule variance, cost variance and resource allocation, you begin moving from a reactionary-based project model to a more proactive approach. In PMI terms, project managers that put tools like SSAS, Excel and SSRS as a key part of your project monitoring activities, you will have more opportunities to quickly recognize deficiencies and avoid falling behind to that point of no return. Additionally, using your data mining tools from SSAS to perform resource leveling and constant continuous improvement by always ensure that you capture your project activities in a retrospective step of your project closure, you will quickly become the true organizational project manager hero!

(Below are some sample KPI reports to help you during project monitoring to move to a more reactive project PERFORMANCE management styled project manager)