What Is Project Tracking?
Project tracking refers to monitoring the progress of all activities and tasks in any project. Project managers use project tracking to analyze whether or not the tasks are progressing as planned with respect to time and budget. Project tracking ensures that no unforeseen bottlenecks derail the project and delay its delivery. Project managers can manage the budget and resources effectively by tracking their team members’ tasks. Plus, tracking helps project managers ascertain the need for additional resources or more time.
Project managers can leverage the project tracking data to update their stakeholders about the quantum of work done and how the resources have been utilized. Organizations can track projects in several ways, ranging from manual Excel sheets and dashboards to project-tracking software. However, most organizations, especially enterprises, are switching to advanced tools to track their projects. They are moving from legacy systems to new-age tools, such as project tracking software packages, as they automatically provide real-time progress data. This instantaneous overview of the project’s progress helps project managers make timely and informed decisions, improving the chances of delivering a successful project.
How to Track Project Progress Effectively
1. Define Clear and Realistic Goals
You can’t correctly evaluate your project’s performance and progress without precise goals. Establishing clear and well-defined goals help teams work in unison, improve focus, and achieve the desired outcome within a stipulated period.
However, you should consider the following while setting up goals:
● Clear and to the Point
You must clearly define the goals, as ambiguous targets can confuse the team and impact project outcomes, also lowering client satisfaction. In addition, every team member must clearly understand their roles and responsibilities.
● Realistic and Attainable
Setting unrealistic goals can overburden the team with work, which may lead to unnecessary stress. Thus, project managers and the management should consider setting realistic and attainable goals that are aligned with the project’s timeline, budget and the availability of adequate human resources.
Any project tasks should have a deadline and a start date. So, you should specify timelines. For instance, rather than saying, “this phase should be completed promptly”, you should say, “this phase needs to be completed by 25th April 2023.” Else, the team may lose the motivation to complete tasks at the earliest. Teams can even deprioritize tasks in the absence of time constraints.
You should set project-relevant goals so that team members are clear about the tasks that they need to accomplish to achieve the target.
2. Effective Communication is the Key
There is no point in sharing incomprehensible reports with the stakeholders. On the other hand, getting precise details about project status is tricky if the project manager does not effectively communicate with their teams.
Once the project manager has defined the goal, regular communication with the stakeholders and the team is imperative to building a positive work relationship. Effective communication enables project managers to regularly review the project’s existing work. In addition, unambiguous communication helps project managers apprise the stakeholders about the project’s tangibles and intangibles. Furthermore, if the project is veering off, you can inform your teams through meetings and address the issues before they acquire more serious character.
3. Conducting Regular Project Meetings
A project manager can meet with their team every week or every month. Such meetings should focus on getting updates about the project work, at what stage it is, and discussing the roadblocks. Besides, a brief meeting to discuss the project status is more convenient than long email trails
Such regular meetings help project managers assess whether or not the team is working on time, being productive or facing any challenges.
The frequency of these meetings can depend on the deadline. For instance, if the project’s deadline is four months, you can schedule such meetings once fortnightly for the first two months. Later, you can increase the frequency to once a week. Project managers can also offer constructive feedback during such meetings to help the team members improve their performance.
4. Setting Stringent Deadlines and Milestones
Some projects take months or even years to complete; hence, project managers can split such a large project into milestones to assess whether or not the project is on time.
For example, if any project has a deadline of four months, teams may feel less motivated to catch up on their work. However, splitting it into small milestones or rewarding deadlines will decrease the likelihood of slacking off work. For instance, project managers can set a two-week deadline for the tasks of any long project that will motivate the team to work at a steady pace. Further, the project manager can also evaluate the project’s progress by examining whether or not the team has achieved the milestones.
5. Measuring Qualitative Progress with Client’s Feedback
Projects that stretch over months and even years can undergo qualitative analysis. The quantitative time-based analysis enables managers to track the speed of the project. However, qualitative analysis helps project managers decipher whether or not it meets the client’s expectations. Project managers can ask the clients to review the completed work. For this, they can schedule a monthly meeting with the client to rate the progress and quality of the work as a short survey.
6. Using the Checklist
Project managers should break down a new project into phases, where each phase has defined tasks. For instance, the project life cycle generally comprises five stages: client onboarding, project planning, project execution, project delivery, and final reviewing. Project managers can further split these phases into respective tasks and create a checklist for every task. This way, they can keep a tab on the project’s progress –like how many tasks are completed and the stage in which the project is.
7. Leveraging Smart Tools to Track Progress
Gantt chart is the most renowned tool with a bar-chart type layout that helps assess a project’s actual status against the initial plan. This tool offers a real-time visual representation of the tasks and subtasks’ progress. Project managers can anticipate their teams’ progress by analyzing the duration bar that connects each task’s start to end date. If the duration bar is more shaded, the task is nearing completion. Some organizations also use Kanban boards as an alternative to the Gantt chart.
Nowadays, project tracking software has become more convenient than other methods, making project tracking more effortless and hassle-free. Such software automates the task of project tracking, giving a bird’s eye view of the overall project’s progress in real time. The project manager can also generate reports using this tool to compare the current progress rate against the expected rate. Some of the most popular software tools are nTask, ProofHub, Backlog, etc.
Project managers can also leverage project plan templates that provide all project-related crucial data at their fingertips. These templates give a brief of all the relevant details that project managers need to possess to know the project’s progress. Plus, these templates are customizable. Hence, a project manager can create a unique project tracking template for each specific project, depending on their need.
Tracking a project helps project managers stay on top of their deliverables. Project tracking also gives them a brief about the resources used and tasks executed. Organizations can leverage project tracking software and project plan templates to streamline their processes, ensuring seamless and fail-safe tracking.