Performance Assessment of Multi-Objective Projects


and Programs



By Dr. Kenneth Smith, PMP

Honolulu, Hawaii
& Manila, The Philippines

In last month’s “On the Average” article[1] I presented a better indicator – IMO — for assessing the performance of projects[2] having a single Objective (i.e. Purpose or Outcome[3]) as well as a ‘quick & easy’ template to facilitate computation of their outcome. This month my assessment scope is broadened to assessing the performance of projects as well as programs with multiple Objectives.

Despite frequent admonitions by managers to focus on a specific objective, invariably corporate and government officials try to cram multiple objectives into their ventures in order to make them more ‘robust’ and appealing to potential stakeholders.  Given a lack of resources, ambitious private sector undertakings are often delimited to ‘priority needs;’ but government projects and programs are less constrained.  Indeed, in the public sector almost everything is deemed a high priority by one or more special interest groups. Constituent stakeholder desires are then spurred by politicians who promise to fulfill their ‘wants;’ either through regular appropriations or ‘pork barrel’ funding, replete with quid pro quo negotiations for votes &/or other favors. As a consequence, many necessary or highly desirable public programs & projects are encumbered; adorned like Christmas trees, with collateral –sometimes even conflicting — objectives for various target beneficiaries; leaving hapless project managers to ‘Carry On’ with all their complexities, and deal with the dilemma as best they can.

Like it or not, this is the reality.  Thus, assessing whether ‘agreed-to quality’ products were delivered “on time” and “on budget,” as well as achieving a pre-determined single sector target is inadequate.  Evaluation of the extent to which the plethora of program or project objectives – each with differing priorities &/or target levels — were attained, is also necessary.  Ideally, those objectives, with their respective indicators and target levels should have been identified at the outset in a logical framework[4] – i.e. during the planning stage.  If not, it behooves the project manager to identify them as soon as possible during implementation – in addition to the means for capturing the relevant data — because even though accomplishment may lay beyond his/her managerial interest, control, and tenure, the project manager will be held accountable for achieving them by the court of public opinion!

A Contemporary Case in Point: In the Philippines, rice is the staple food and nation-wide food crop, so its ready-availability and at reasonable prices are prime social, economic and political benchmarks.  Shortcoming in either indicator is a potentially volatile political flashpoint.  Thus, just recently — during July 2023 — in conjunction with back-to-back typhoons Egay & Falcon, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.[5] ordered officials in all adversely-affected local government units to submit detailed reports on the damage to agriculture, so the national government could address the needs in their jurisdictions — particularly of rice farmers.[6]  Concurrently, despite evident widespread devastation, a ranking Department of Agriculture (DA) official assured the public that sufficient national government rice stock was on hand to weather the storms; and averred the government was still targeting to bring down the prevailing inflationary rice market price — currently fluctuating between 44 and 60 pesos/kilo – although the 20 pesos promised by President Marcos during his 2022 election campaign was not likely.  Faced with impending curtailments of both locally-produced and imported rice[7] — with concomitant price increases to consumers — the Agriculture Department is now gearing up to take mitigating action; and possibly even a national ‘masagana’ rice production program for the ensuing season; somewhat reminiscent of the highly successful Masagana 99 Program[8] launched by the President’s father 50 years ago.


To read entire article, click here

Editor’s note: This advisory article and the example used by Dr. Smith is directly related to an emerging and potentially serious public crisis in The Philippines, exactly as described in the article. Most public programs necessarily must address the needs and priorities of multiple stakeholders.  For example, the availability and price of rice in The Philippines and many other Asian countries affect farmers, distributors, traders, markets, consumers, economies, politics and even national security. Ken describes a tool to help manage such programs.

How to cite this article: Smith, K. F. (2023).  Performance Assessment of Multi-Objective Projects and Programs, PM World Journal, Vol. XII, Issue IX, September. Available online at https://pmworldlibrary.net/wp-content/uploads/2023/09/pmwj133-Sep2023-Smith-performance-assessment-of-multi-objective-projects-and-programs-2.pdf

About the Author

Dr. Kenneth Smith

Honolulu, Hawaii
& Manila, The Philippines


Initially a US Civil Service Management Intern, then a management analyst & systems specialist with the US Defense Department, Ken subsequently had a career as a senior foreign service officer — management & evaluation specialist, project manager, and in-house facilitator/trainer — with the US Agency for International Development (USAID).  Ken assisted host country governments in many countries to plan, monitor and evaluate projects in various technical sectors; working ‘hands-on’ with their officers as well as other USAID personnel, contractors and NGOs.  Intermittently, he was also a team leader &/or team member to conduct project, program & and country-level portfolio analyses and evaluations.

Concurrently, Ken had an active dual career as Air Force ready-reservist in Asia (Japan, Korea, Vietnam, Indonesia, Philippines) as well as the Washington D.C. area; was Chairman of a Congressional Services Academy Advisory Board (SAAB); and had additional duties as an Air Force Academy Liaison Officer.  He retired as a ‘bird’ colonel.

After retirement from USAID, Ken was a project management consultant for ADB, the World Bank, UNDP and USAID.

He earned his DPA (Doctor of Public Administration) from the George Mason University (GMU) in Virginia, his MS from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT Systems Analysis Fellow, Center for Advanced Engineering Study), and BA & MA degrees in Government & International Relations from the University of Connecticut (UCONN).  A long-time member of the Project Management Institute (PMI) and IPMA-USA, Ken is a Certified Project Management Professional (PMP®) and a member of the PMI®-Honolulu and Philippines Chapters.

Ken’s book — Project Management PRAXIS (available from Amazon) — includes many innovative project management tools & techniques; and describes a “Toolkit” of related templates available directly from him at kenfsmith@aol.com on proof of purchase of PRAXIS.

To view other works by Ken Smith, visit his author showcase in the PM World Library at https://pmworldlibrary.net/authors/dr-kenneth-smith/

[1] Smith, K.F. (2023).  A Better Indicator for Targeting & Measuring Performance “ON THE AVERAGE”, PM World Journal, Vol. XII, Issue VIII, August

[2] Better, compared to the usual utilization of averages and percentages.

[3] Generically, “In business, an objective refers to the specific steps a company will take to achieve a desired result.” Source: Market Business News.]  AKA the Logical Framework “Purpose in project management terminology; or an “Outcome” in the Asian Development Bank’s Design & Monitoring Framework (DMF).

[4] Smith, K. F. (2021).  Managing Project & Strategic Objectives with Logframe Analysis and the Logical Framework, PM World Journal, Vol. X, Issue IV, April

[5] Colloquially known as BBM — Bong-Bong Marcos

[6] Fortunately, the typhoons hit right after the rice harvest, and standing crops were still in the early stages, for harvesting late September through December.  Nevertheless, immediate — and continuing — reports were that damage was extensive and crop losses were severe.

[7] India recently announced a ban on white rice exports, while the Thai government is encouraging their farmers to plant less rice in the future in order to save water; both former sources of imports.  This leaves Vietnam as the Philippines remaining major source for limited importations, but at the risk of surging global prices.

[8] The Masagana 99 – bountiful harvest – rice production program was launched in 1973 to avert a national crisis when a series of typhoons battered Central Luzon (the nation’s “Rice Bowl”) in July & August 1972; followed by drought and tungro disease which destroyed almost all subsequently-replanted rice crops.  At an average of 84 cavans/hectare, Masagana fell 15% short of its 99 ca/ha target during its first year.  Nevertheless, that was a significant 133% improvement over the baseline of only 36 ca/ha, and staved off nationwide starvation; a feat acknowledged as an unprecedented success for a government-managed program.  [By 1976 — when I completed my tour of duty with USAID in the Philippines — the country even emerged from being a deficit rice-producing nation, to actually exporting its surplus rice crop to other countries in Asia; and continued doing so on a sustained basis for almost a decade thereafter.]  But nothing lasts forever!  Moreover, although both national production and individual farm rice productivity were significantly increased, other desirable collateral objectives – such as increased small farm incomes — were not attained. 

Moreover, the supporting bank loan project — to assist farmers procure inputs such as fertilizer and pesticides — was an epic failure with widespread defaults; resulting in individual bankruptcies, as well as collapse of the rural banking business sector!   [For more information and detail on the Masagana program, see my doctoral dissertation “Determinants of Success in the Design & Institutionalization of Management Information Systems for Development Administration (DMIS): Lessons from the Philippine “Masagana 99” Experience.” [An empirical direct participatory four-year involvement, and follow-up field case study] George Mason University (GMU), Fairfax, Virginia. 1988.]