Bring Me A Measure:


How to Fulfill Leadership’s Request

for Performance Measures [1]



By Susan Hostetter and John Walsh

U.S. Census Bureau

Washington, DC, USA

Executive Summary                                                                                                             

This paper will explore performance measurement and present a process for how to go from vague dashboard requests to meaningful measures. They will include tools that the U.S. Census Bureau’s Demographic Statistical Methods Division (DSMD) PMO has developed to evaluate strategic outcomes, collect ideas for measures, evaluate measure ideas against need and feasibility, organize measure ideas for discussion with leadership, develop measure prototypes and maintain and evolve final measures. Additionally, the paper will cover the benefits of the process and the time and resources required to implement.


In our title “Bring me a measure” we are acknowledging that a request from leadership for measures can come with very little information. At times it can feel that you are bringing a series of rocks to leadership to have them tell you “Not that rock.” We have been there and can help. We have, through our work developing program performance measures, a process that will help you identify the right measures to produce and get leadership and stakeholder input along the way. Hopefully, in the future you can bring the right measure to your leaders when they don’t know how to communicate what they want up front.

Program Management

Before the work begins, the process assumes that there is some level of program management at your organization. Measure development is one piece of program management and relies on all phases of program management to be effective. The descriptions below describe how each area of program management contributes value to the identification, development and use of performance measures.

Strategic Planning

This process is where the organization leadership develops vision and priorities for the future of the organization. The strategic plan will document the vision and strategic priorities for the organization.

Portfolio Management

This process is where the organization selects and funds projects that will move the organization to its future state. When done right, the projects within the portfolio will be aligned to the strategic goals and objectives.

Project Management

This process manages the work of a project. A well-run project will produce data that can be used to create measures to demonstrate progress towards the future state.

Performance Management

This process is where metrics are identified and produced. The metrics will inform leadership if they are moving their organization towards its future state.


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Editor’s note: Second Editions are previously published papers that have continued relevance in today’s project management world, or which were originally published in conference proceedings or in a language other than English.  Original publication acknowledged; authors retain copyright.  This paper was originally presented at the 14th UT Dallas PM Symposium in May 2022.  It is republished here with the permission of the author and conference organizers.

How to cite this paper: Hostetter, S., Walsh, J. (2022). Bring Me A Measure: How to Fulfill Leadership’s Request for Performance Measures; presented at the 14th University of Texas at Dallas Project Management Symposium in Richardson, TX, USA in May 2022; republished in the PM World Journal, Vol. XI, Issue VI, June.  Available online at https://pmworldlibrary.net/wp-content/uploads/2022/05/pmwj118-Jun2022-Hostetter-Walsh-Bring-Me-a-Measure.pdf

About the Authors

Susan Hostetter

U.S. Census Bureau
Texas and Washington, DC, USA


Susan Hostetter, PMP, is a Project Manager at the U.S. Census Bureau in Washington, DC, USA. As a data analyst and project management professional, she has been instrumental in standing up and improving PMO processes for risk management, project management, portfolio management, schedule management, cost management, performance management and strategic planning. Her papers have been published in the PM World Journal and she has presented project management topics at PMI chapter events and at the University of Maryland’s and University of Texas at Dallas’ PM Symposiums. She has a Master’s Certificate in Project Management from George Washington University, a Master’s Degree in Management with Project Management emphasis from University of Maryland’s University College and a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration, with a minor in Economics, from Mary Baldwin College. Susan can be contacted at susan.lynn.hostetter@census.gov


John Walsh

U.S. Census Bureau
Washington, DC, USA


John Walsh, PMP, is Chief of the Management Operations Office in the Demographic Statistical Methods Division (DSMD) at the U.S. Census Bureau in Washington, DC, USA. As a project management professional over the last 12 years, he has been instrumental in implementing project management processes for large-scale programs across the Census Bureau, including the Economic Census, as well as the Current Demographic and Current Economic survey programs.  He received an undergraduate degree in Economics from the University of Maryland at College Park.  John can be contacted at john.c.walsh@census.gov

[1] Any opinions and conclusions expressed herein are those of the author(s) and do not reflect the views of the U.S. Census Bureau.