PM Classes ROI – Executive Summary and Reporting

by Looking Glass via Flickr
by Looking Glass via Flickr

We’re asking that every 6 months (too long/too short?) that the students in the Santa Clara Valley Water District’s (SCVWD) Project and Program Management Certificate program do a short (half-page?) report on lessons learned to date. During that time most of them should have completed 1-3 classes (30-75 hours of training.)  Since the time taken to complete the certificate can vary from 1-5 years, we don’t want to wait until the end of their program to collect data.

Students will also be required to submit an Executive Summary of their journal, which is a 1 to 3 page document with the most important items highlighting their development as a project manager during the program.

I think it might be helpful to have some key points to include in their Executive Summary.  I’m wondering whether to use the same thinking points from their journals, i.e.

Key objectives at start

Important concepts/techniques/tools

i.          Description

ii.          How they applied it at the Water District

iii.          Resulting improvement

Anything else worth capturing?   The SCVWD Training Department will ultimately use this information to justify the ongoing expense of project management training.  UCSC Extension in Silicon Valley will consider adding this data collection requirement to their publicly offered Project and Program Management program.

Sandra Clark

UCSC Extension in Silicon Valley


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3 thoughts on “PM Classes ROI – Executive Summary and Reporting”

  1. Thanks for the clarification, Josh. Maybe ROI provokes too many strong reactions. I’m really looking for something pretty basic. After training – Were you able to complete a project faster? Were you able to save any money? Use limited resources more effectivly? Communicate with your team/management more effectively?

  2. It seems to me that Sandra and Andy may be talking about two separate but related things?

    I think Sandra is talking about ROI for PM training (how to justify the cost of training through a program and classes like UCSC Extension offers) and it seems Andy is talking about ROI of projects themselves.

    Responding to Sandra’s posts, here are my thoughts:

    -Look for metrics already collected regarding the general benefits of PM training to organizations, and leverage that research. The “Value of PM” study recently put out by the PMI could be a good resource.

    -Ask for specific qualitative examples from alumni and their organizations that show the value delivered by UCSC Extension

    -Cite specific benefits above and beyond alternatives. For instance, many organizations may think that simply getting people PMP certified is enough training. I think that is clearly wrong. Highlight the content and training benefits above and beyond a PMP training/certification paradigm.

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    thanks for a series of posts that touch on something near and dear to my heart, ROI on projects. I love the concept and especially the idea of doing an Executive Summary every so often. People talk about doing “Post Mortems” or “Project Reviews”, but in my experience, they rarely ever happen and when they do, they’re not follow up on. Some people try weekly status reports, but these tend to be too granular. An Exec Project Summary, done a quarter of the way into the project, at the half way point, the three-quarters point and at conclusion would provide more meaningful insight and an opportunity for the PM, Sponsor and other meaningful execs to decide if things are on track or if some corrective actions need to be taken. That is such a great idea, I’m incorporating it into my business.

    As for you’re ROI measurements, I love the idea, but hate the metrics you selected. No one introducing projects does ROI calculations. ROI can only be measured in accounting terms. It’s a financial measure. How much money went into the project, has the project paid for itself?

    A bit of personal history. I quite my last corporate job for many reasons, but one of them was that they had embarked on a massive BPR project that initially was supposed to “re-earn” it’s future investments to pay for itself. That was the initial case a colleague and I put forward that was approved. Admittedly we made a lot of mistakes, but the project evolved to a $5M a year, 5 year project; then it mutated to a project that was supposedly going to cost $40M (but consultants from a large unnamed German software company privately admitted it would be $60M+) and the justification was that the company had to have the project.

    What infuriated me, other than the blood sucking ba$tards who ended up running the project, was that there was no way the company could ever recoup their costs. The company didn’t have enough revenues to improve net income to a point where the project financial made sense. And what they were trying to do from a technical sense had become completely detached from reality.

    My purpose for that little rant was to introduce the idea that if any financial ROI metric had been in place, the project couldn’t have spun so far out of control. Finding the right metric in small companies (<$50M) is pretty easy. Effectively implementing ERP SaaS systems can and should meaningfully affect profit margins in under a year. CRM systems can affect Aging Accounts Receivable. In larger companies externally visible accounting metrics may be more difficult to affect, but department level or appropriate metrics should still be definable.

    EVA, Earned Value Analysis touches on some of this, but its complex and outside of large government contracts, I haven’t seen or heard of it being used. Defining an ROI metric is not that difficult.

    Anyways, I’ve babbled on too much.


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