Measurable Outcomes in Project Management: What To Consider

StephaniFitzsimmons
By Stephani Fitzsimmons
Director of Content and Communications
Dec 28 2022 read
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You just finished another project — how did it go? Did you deliver successful outcomes? How satisfied was the client?

Your professional services business depends on project outcomes and client satisfaction, so it's important to evaluate all project performance in concrete ways. The success of individual client projects can heavily impact your bottom line, and every project in some way contributes to your success or failure. 

So, what’s your process for measuring project outcomes? 

If you have one in place, great! It’s worth reviewing, though, to identify room for improvement. If you don’t have a system in place, you should. Here’s your guide to getting started. 

Determine Project Objectives and Goals

The first step is to understand project goals and objectives. This may seem obvious. Where a lot of people fall short is in not making goals and objectives measurable

Here is how to assess a goal or objective using the SMART method:

Specific: Does it specify who, what, when, where, why and which?

Measurable: Are there metrics and milestones?

Achievable: Do you have the skills, resources and tools needed?

Relevant: Does it fit within overall company goals and business objectives?

Time-bound: Are there imminent and final deadlines?

Also, it’s important to be clear on the difference between goals and objectives. A goal is the high-level, long-term accomplishment you want to achieve with the project. Project goals may be influenced by business goals.

Objectives give the more specific and detailed desired outcomes of the project. So, objectives contribute to goals. 

Whether you're setting up SMART goals or objectives, you need to consider how they impact your client's project and long-term outcomes.

READ NEXT: Project Management KPI Examples for Client Work

Examples of Project Goals and Objectives

Example #1:

Scenario: You run an ad agency working with a long-standing CPG client. Their best-selling product continues to perform well but they would like to increase sales of their latest ancillary product.

Goal: Increase ad conversion rate by 10% in Q4.

Objective: Implement a new ad strategy promoting the new product to existing customers at a 10% discount throughout the quarter.

Example #2:

Scenario: Your SEO agency is working with a new client who hired you to help drive more organic web traffic.

Goal: Increase website traffic by 15% in six months.

Objective: Release 50 strategic SEO-focused content pages within the first three months of the project that use the right keywords, relevant terms and headings to organically drive more traffic to your client’s site.

Create Project Plans and Processes

Once you have established project goals and objectives, you need to create a plan to support and measure your project success. For the sake of time and consistency, your team should have a standard framework for project plan creation and well-established project management practices

Project plans typically include the following:

  • Project objectives
  • Detailed scope of work
  • Team members and responsibilities
  • Project outputs and estimated due dates
  • Resource allocations
  • Progress tracking and performance metrics
  • Communication plan

Project planning is significantly easier when you use software designed to not only help you plan and manage work but measure outcomes as well. Ideally, you'll implement a platform that integrates automated project management with complete client work functionality.

Identify Your Project Team and Responsibilities

Project managers and contributors should be clearly outlined within any project plan. It’s important to be thorough to make sure you've allocated adequate team members and resources. 

Knowing key project stakeholders, their needs and expectations helps establish realistic project plans, timelines and budgets. You'll have a greater likelihood of being on time and within scope and keeping clients happy when you clearly delineate who is responsible and accountable for what. When team members know what they own, it’s easier for them to measure and track their individual contributions. 

Another factor is having the right team in place and choosing people who are the best fit for the project. People can make all the difference. Some important traits to look for when selecting project team members include:

  • Openness: Sharing fresh ideas and communicate issues
  • Dependability: Owning tasks and completing work on time
  • Understanding: Being aware of project scope, goals, plans and strategy
  • Commitment: Turning out valuable and impactful work

Track Time and Monitor Progress

Whether you bill clients by project or by hour, diligently tracking time is key for assessing project outcomes and success. You want to ensure your team and clients are making the best use of each billable hour. 

Accurate time data will tell you exactly how much total time went into a project, along with more granular time measurements like total time by task, employee time by project, employee time by task, etc. Monitor time throughout the course of the project to ensure outcomes are developing on time and as intended. If your team is unsatisfied with progress or concerned about outcomes, they may have the option to shift how they’re using their time to produce stronger results. 

Keep in mind, though, that project outcomes represent the larger impact the project had on the client and may require time beyond the date of project delivery. Take that into account to set realistic time periods and track the time your team spends following up. 

Tip: Use Accelo to track progress, sync communications, send automated reports and display project KPIs via dashboards. 

Assess Customer Satisfaction

It’s important that, at the beginning of any project, you set realistic expectations and then reiterate or modify these expectations throughout the process. This helps ensure that you and the client are aligned and supports greater client satisfaction in the end.

What outcome does the client want to see? What is realistic for you to deliver? Do you have the necessary data to determine project outcomes?

To properly assess client satisfaction, you need to have a plan in place for that as well. It’s best to establish the ideal times within a project to do check-ins — say, after a milestone. Or, decide on set time periods after which your team will do short assessments during standing project calls with the client. You could also send automated weekly surveys.  

➡️ Keep an eye on all client email correspondence and feedback automatically in Accelo's Activity Stream.

Review Project Outcomes

Once a project is complete, you need to review outcomes. How did your work affect the client? It’s important here that you're honest and realistic about how your outputs contributed to outcomes. That’s the only way to be more effective going forward. 

Aim to understand how your chosen metrics from the beginning of the project stack up against your SMART goals and objectives. Use this list of project management KPIs to inspire your review and your goals moving forward. 

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About the Author

StephaniFitzsimmons

Stephani is Director of Content and Communications at Accelo where she oversees content ideation and development. She has worked in and around B2B technology for most of her career and loves helping businesses be more productive, connected and efficient through new technologies. A veteran writer and content creator, Stephani's work has appeared in InformationWeek, Security Magazine, TechRadar and The Fast Mode.

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