Top 13 Project Management KPI Examples You Can Use Right Now

Get excellent, repeatable results when you measure project management key performance indicators (KPIs). Use these top 13 project management KPI examples.

Top 13 Project Management KPI Examples You Can Use Right Now

Those papercuts you got there look nasty. Hope you took out a good life insurance policy!

When you don’t measure your project management, it’s death by 1000 papercuts.

Not fun.

What you need are KPI (key performance indicators) project management systems to set you or your project manager up for success.

ScaleTime to the rescue. These are our top 13 project management KPI examples to get you out of the what-to-measure fog and into the light of scalable systems running on autopilot.

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What are KPIs in project management?

Project management KPIs are formulas that measure and track project performance.

KPIs for project management ensure projects meet deadlines, and team members are on the same page about the work process and how to reach long-term objectives.

KPIs can measure a boatload of things, from ROI, schedule variance, resource utilization, and more.

The best part is that these project management KPIs examples can be used for projects of all sizes and types.

No matter which specific KPIs you use, they will help you build replicable, scalable systems that keep your team on track and on the same page.

We’re all creatures of habit, and no one appreciates last-minute, unpleasant surprises. Referrals incoming! Your clients will also love the consistency and predictability they get with your agency.

Why do you need project management KPIs?

Your agency probably has a project management platform. If not, check out this KPI resource and then get back here.

Here’s the thing — if you don’t accurately measure and track your projects, you’ll never reach project management freedom.

And if you don’t have a project management system in place, you can’t scale or replicate it.

And this sh$t happens:

  • Quality varies, is unpredictable, and the anticipation gives you a case of heartburn.
  • Team members aren’t communicating, and the crickets are deafening.
  • You keep having to proof deliverables on your days off.
  • Hear that whistling sound? It’s those deadlines whizzing by and getting missed. Again and again.
  • You’re having more angry conversations with clients instead of happy ones.
  • Projects keep going over budget, and it’s crimping your revenue style.

You’ve got to keep a tight leash on your project timelines and deliverables. Otherwise, it’s a circus. And clowns are scary.

KPIs for project management help you tighten up and streamline your projects and processes. Those bullet points above? Gone when you start consistently using a project KPI.

Instead, this will happen when you get your PM ducks in a row:

  • Schedules that make sense are predictable, repeatable, and consistently kept
  • High-quality, airtight, consistent deliverables. That you don’t have to proof. Yay!
  • Deadlines? Like hitting a bullseye every time.
  • Budgets are protected, and you be ballin’
  • Clients? Happy and sending you referrals and repeat business.

So, let’s get your project team there. But before you begin with these top 9 project management KPIs, remember the golden rule:

Any KPI you use, whether it’s for project management or another system, must be measurable and actionable.

Put on your blue light glasses, and let’s get started!

Project management KPI #1: ROI

Is what you’re doing going to make money? Sounds simple, but it’s kind of important. Measuring your ROI (return on investment) will tell you if a given project will result in a positive ROI or if costs exceed the benefit.

Remember, though, not every project will give you a positive ROI in the short term. In some instances, you’ll have to consider the long-term profitability. Some projects grow like weeds, and others more like trees.

For ROI:

ROI = [(Financial Value – Project Cost) / Project Cost] x 100

Project management KPI #2: Cost Variance (CV)

Are you getting nickel and dimed? Knowing if your planned budget vs. actual budget is in the same galaxy is critical for protecting your bottom line. Use this KPI to measure project expense variances.

Through the project lifecycle, add up your expenses and compare that to the planned budget. You’ll know if you’re working within, above, or below your means.

KPI for Project Management #3: CPI

The cost performance index, or CPI, helps you determine if you’re ahead or behind your project schedule and what impact that’s having on your budget. Essentially, CPI enables you to measure project cost efficiency.

To calculate:

Earned value divided by Actual Costs = CPI

If your CPI is more than one, then congrats. You’ve got a cost-efficient project.

But if it’s less than one, you’ve got a problem. If you achieve a favorable CPI at one point during the project, don’t get too complacent. CPI can change over the lifecycle of a project. So, keep an eye on it to ensure efficiency.

KPI #4: Cost of Managing Processes

Time is money. How much does it cost you to supervise and manage a project? Cost of managing processes KPI will give you a clear picture of time and resources spent.

If the number is too high, something’s gumming up the works, and your PM needs to tighten up their processes. Too low, and you’ve got an unorganized team. Some tips for balancing out this project KPI:

  • Ease up the PM’s workload with automated invoicing and time billing software
  • Organize your client folders so your team knows where everything is and can quickly find those mission-critical docs asap

PM KPI #5: Earned Value

Earned value KPI for project management will give you the approved budget for all activities performed by a specific date. This KPI will show you how much planned work you’ve done and the budget for these accomplishments.

It’s also referred to as the budget cost of work performed, or BCWP for short. Take the percentage of your completed work, and multiply it by the project budget to determine this KPI.

KPI for project management #6: Planned Value

AKA budgeted cost of work scheduled (BCWS), planned value is the estimated cost of the work you have planned for a specified reporting date.

This KPI is helpful for tracking if you’re ahead of schedule or if you’ve already spent a big chunk of your budget before deliverable completion.

There are two ways to calculate planned value KPI:

1. Hours left scheduled on the project multiplied by project worker’s hourly rate

2. Planned percentage of activities left to complete multiplied by the project budget

Let’s say you have a year-long project with a total budget of 12K, and we look at the ninth-month mark as a scheduled reporting date. If you’re on schedule for project completion, then you should have gotten 75% of the project done, with 25% left to go for the remaining three months of this year-long project.

So, 25% of 12K is $3000. That’s your planned value.

But if you’ve spent more to date and the planned value is less than $3000, then your actual cost KPI is higher than the planned value.  

Project management KPI #7: Actual Cost

This KPI is pretty straightforward — it’s how much you’ve spent on a project to date.

Math haters, rejoice. There’s no formula for calculating the KPI.

All you’ve got to do is add up all your costs. Remember things like travel-related expenses, too, and anything related to deliverables and project completion.  

Project KPI #8: Planned hours of work vs. actual situation

The best-laid plans often get derailed. So protect your budgets and your resources when you use this project management KPI.

It measures how many working hours were planned to complete deliverables compared to how much time you’ve actually spent on the project.

Apply it to different periods and project phases to get the most juice out of this KPI orange.

If the hours spent are way more than the time scheduled, then you’ll need to adjust how much time you work on the remaining project phases.

Project KPI #9: Crossed deadlines

Missing a deadline here and there is a normal part of running a digital marketing agency. But if crossed deadlines have become the rule and not the exception, you’ve got a problem. Use this KPI to fix it.

Crossed deadlines KPI takes your total percentage of missed deadlines and compares it to all completed project activities.

If you’ve got a high percentage of overdue deadlines, rethink your project’s schedule. You might also need to bring more people on board.

KPI #10: Missed Milestones

This PM KPI is similar to crossed deadlines. Some of the most successful project managers include this metric in their project dashboards.  

If you keep hearing a giant whooshing sound when the word deliverable hits your inbox, you’re likely underestimating your team capacity, capabilities, and resources.

While it’s perfectly acceptable to miss a couple of milestones during a long-term beast of a project, consistently missing milestones, even simple ones, indicates a bigger problem has been brewing below the surface.

You need to review your entire project process for gaps and cracks in capacity.

Project management KPI #11: Schedule Performance Index

Head off crossed deadlines at the pass. Instead, use this KPI, also known as SPI, to see if you’re ahead or behind your planned schedule.

Divide earned value by planned value. If it’s less than one, you’ll need to make some changes to get back on track.

KPI #12: Resource Utilization

Knowing how well your project is performing is one thing. But how well is your team doing?

The resource utilization KPI gives you an overview of how long people spend on billable work vs. non-billable work.

Tracking your teams’ bandwidth when they’re juggling plates for multiple clients is vital. Meetings and scheduling can suck up people’s time, and it’s typically non-billable work.

Use this KPI to keep tabs on your bandwidth, ensure profitability, and protect productivity.

KPI #13: Cancelled projects percentage

Can your agency consistently plan ahead? This KPI will tell you. Knowing if a project will be profitable and if your team is qualified to hit the job’s goals is essential to running a tight ship.

A cancelled project here and there is one thing. You may close what you think is a dream client, but they turn out to be a nightmare, and the project gets ixnayed. Live and learn.

But if you’ve got a high percentage of canceled projects, then your business decisions aren’t sustainable. Estimate your rate of canceled projects to see if you’re consistently reaching your goals or if you need to get out of your own damn way.

Using project management performance measurement tools: Take these action steps.

These project management KPI examples will help you track and measure your project performance, team bandwidth, project success, and profitability.

We’re not fans of going by the warm and fuzzy feelz. You need real, measurable, actionable data to build and sustain a profitable agency.

Project KPIs will get you there.

Even if you do nothing, do at least a little something— make sure you’re measuring your profitability and how on-time your deliverables are!

  • Track your time spent vs. budget left to determine if the project is profitable and your clients will be happy with the agreed-upon deliverable schedule.
  • Know your baseline. Figure out planned, actual, and earned value vs. ROI at the start of each new project.
  • Track and prioritize your billable work.
  • Running behind schedule? Budget eaten up? Then look at where you can shift things. Start using automated scheduling and invoicing software. Consider bringing more people on board to get a project completed on time.

You can consistently hit your targets and reach your goals. But only if you measure them!

Knowing where you want to go is one thing. You’ve also got to know how to get here. Project management KPIs are your map to a scalable, profitable system. And happy clients.
Let’s Elon Musk this digital agency thing and shoot you to the moon. Get Clone Yourself Project Management. Includes a bonus-free one-on-one discovery call to find and fix those PM gaps.

Business operations consultant Juliana Marulanda
Juliana Marulanda is a business operations expert, speaker, and the founder of ScaleTime. With over 20 years of experience across Wall Street, the non-profit sector, technology startups, and family-owned businesses, she now helps service-based businesses.