Evaluating the relative performance of engineering design projects: A case study using data envelopment analysis

Jennifer A. Farris, Richard L. Groesbeck, Eileen M. Van Aken, Geert Letens

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

73 Scopus citations


This paper presents a case study of how Data Envelopment Analysis (DEA) was applied to generate objective cross-project comparisons of project duration within an engineering department of the Belgian Armed Forces. To date, DEA has been applied to study projects within certain domains (e.g., software and R&D); however, DEA has not been proposed as a general project evaluation tool within the project management literature. In this case study, we demonstrate how DEA fills a gap not addressed by commonly applied project evaluation methods (such as earned value management) by allowing the objective comparison of projects on actual measures, such as duration and cost, by explicitly considering differences in key input characteristics across these projects. Thus, DEA can overcome the paradigm of project uniqueness and facilitate cross-project learning. We describe how DEA allowed the department to gain new insight about the impact of changes to its engineering design process (redesigned based on ISO 15288), creating a performance index that simultaneously considers project duration and key input variables that determine project duration. We conclude with directions for future research on the application of DEA as a project evaluation tool for project managers, program office managers, and other decision-makers in project-based organizations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)471-482
Number of pages12
JournalIEEE Transactions on Engineering Management
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 2006


  • Concurrent engineering
  • ISO 15288
  • Military organizations
  • Performance measurement
  • Project management


Dive into the research topics of 'Evaluating the relative performance of engineering design projects: A case study using data envelopment analysis'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this