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10 Do’s and 10 Don’ts for Using Performance Management Data

October 22, 2013

Performance management systems like Earned Value Management (EVM) can be ripe with data. Data is a tricky thing. It can help paint a valuable picture, full of insight. But it can also provide a false sense of precision and an illusion of control. Here are some considerations which I’ve found helpful to keep in mind when using performance management data.

DO’S
1. Study, analyze and learn what you can from the numbers.

2. Understand what the data mean and explain it to others.

3. Share the data with other people. Listen to people’s feedback.

4. Use the data as one way of understanding project performance and guiding management decisions.

5. Be open to other ways of interpreting the data and the guidance it provides.

6. Remember that the numbers only represent activity on a project; they are not the actual activity on the project.

7. Remember that people drive project performance. Numbers don’t.

8. Know that the data you ask for influences how people set-up their projects and spend their time and resources.

9. Know that what you do with the data affects the people who produce the data and how they feel about their jobs and their role in contributing to project performance.

10. Since the data you ask for and what you do with that data affect people and their decisions, know that the data you ask for and what you do with that data directly impacts project performance.

DON’TS
1. Don’t hide or ignore the data. Ignoring it doesn’t make it go away.

2. Don’t share data without looking at it, analyzing it and making sure it makes sense.

3. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about the data.

4. Don’t pass-up on opportunities to learn about new and different ways to understand and use performance management data.

5. Don’t get stuck thinking that getting more exact numbers improves project performance or your ability to manage a project.

6. Don’t forget that people drive project performance.

7. Don’t forget to actively manage and work with the people on a project.

8. Don’t forget that numbers are an indicator, not a determinant of project performance.

9. Don’t forget that the numbers may be telling you something about the data collection process and not the project’s performance.

10. Don’t forget that the data paint a picture of the choices people make on the project and provide insight into why those choices are made.

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