You can plan your projects exceptionally well, but things may not always happen as planned and that can cause your projects to derail. This is where project tracking and monitoring proves invaluable in overall project management. Time tracking in Project Management provides the project team and stakeholders an understanding about the project health and highlights the areas of concern on the project.
If you follow these steps on how to track your project, then you'll be able to think proactively and deal with any issue before it becomes a problem.
Fig: Process Flow Of Better Project Tracking
It is very important to plan and prioritize the work effectively in order to make the most of your time and effort. According to Pareto Principle, 80% of the effect of your work will come from 20% of the work you do. As a Project Manager, you need to be smart with your time and focus on important things. You can’t track everything; there simply aren’t enough hours in a day; so decide what element of your project is most important and critical.
Project scope, milestones, budget and resources are the most important components that a PM should focus on while tracking the project. These demand a close scrutiny, since they help you determine the performance of the project. It’s very crucial to keep tabs on your upcoming milestones and monitor them since these are the deliverables which your project stakeholders will keep asking you about. Then there’s budget, of course for you to ensure that you aren’t spending more than what’s initially allocated. And scope to avoid any scope creep and manage changes effectively.
2. Set measurable targets
Now that you have prioritized, what do you expect your project performance should be?
Performance measurement starts with setting targets or goals and assigning KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) which are measurable. While setting KPIs for each target, it is also essential to anticipate how the achievement of the target will be tracked.
The foundation of project tracking is comparing what you planned to how you executed that plan. A baseline turns out to be useful to check the actual versus estimated progress throughout the project. Create a performance measurement baseline (combination of scope, time, and cost baseline) with realistic targets, which will represent a standard to measure project performance.
Changes in any project are inevitable and can drastically impact a project; hence controlling the baseline is very crucial for project success.
3. Report to stakeholders:
Your success as a PM can be determined a lot on the way you deliver your reports. They need to clearly and concisely answer the questions that stakeholders have about the project.The project stakeholders need to know what is working and what is taking the project off-track.The PM should ensure to conduct team meetings on a regular basis.
Regular tracking and monitoring enables to identify potential problems as early as possible so that timely adjustments to project plans can be made before moving forward. For instance, if it looks like the upcoming milestone may be missed;the stakeholders must be immediately alerted.
4. Use dashboards:
The key to any successful project is efficient communication. But communicating with sponsors, stakeholders, team members and other project related parties can take up quite a lot of a Project Manager’s time.
A dashboard always comes handy when it comes to expressing a project’s status in a crisp yet effective manner.A Project Management Dashboard often provides at-a-glance view of project performance KPIs in a format that conveys project’s overall progress and highlight particular problems that require further attention. They can be customized to give you the information you need, when you need it, hence saving your time and effort.
5. Recommend actions for improvement and follow-up:
This is most important activity in project tracking. As a Project Manager, you should think of and recommend actions that will offer the greatest dividend in terms of keeping the project running smoothly, efficiently, and on-time, after taking feedback from the management. Recommendations could be corrective actions, preventive actions, or changes in the plan or the project execution.
Ensure that you provide specific guidance, assign a responsible team member and direct him to perform a specific action by a specific date, and make sure they are slated to report back on the results of their action. Also confirm that the recommendations are being followed, expected outputs are being created and the project as a whole is on track.