Staying on Track- 5 Steps for Better Project Tracking
Posted: Sep 25, 2020
Successful completion of projects typically requires a lot of work. You can plan it exceptionally well, but many times things do not happen as expected, which can even derail the project. This is the reason why project tracking serves as a crucial element of project management. Essentially, tracking is all about keeping an eye on the deliverables and timelines through the phases of completion. It enables the team, managers and stakeholders to assess the project health and highlight the challenges that need to be addressed at any stage for its successful completion. Project tracking involves careful and consistent monitoring, so it is crucial to adhere to the best practices for ensuring that you get the desired benefits. Here are the steps for better project tracking.
Step #1: Prioritise smartly
Project managers need to plan and prioritise tasks effectively to make the most of the invested time and efforts. You cannot track everything; so decide the elements of the project that are the most important and critical. Ideally, these should include the project scope, budget, resources and milestones.
Each of these components requires close and consistent scrutiny as they enable you to assess the project's performance. Tracking the scope helps you avoid scope creep and deal with changes effectively. Similarly, keeping an eye on the budget and resources keeps costs and wastage in check. It is also crucial to track the upcoming milestones.
Step #2: Set measurable targets
Once you are through with identifying your priorities for project tracking, the next step would be to set up measurable targets so that you have a clear idea about your expectations. This is best done by assigning KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) for performance measurement for each target area. Even as you set KPIs, you need to have a system in place for tracking the achievement of individual targets.
Project tracking is basically about comparing what you planned with what is executed. A baseline would help check the actual versus estimated progress through the project. So you will need to have a performance measurement baseline that combines the elements like scope, cost and time. Also, ensure that the baseline represents realistic targets which you can use as a standard to measure the project performance.
Step #3: Report to stakeholders
The reports should clearly and concisely address the concerns and answer the questions which the stakeholders are likely to have about the project. For example, they would want to know what is working and what is taking things off-track for the project.
When it comes staying ahead on the reporting front, conducting team meetings regularly would help you to get a clearer picture that would reflect in the reports. Being in touch with the team members on the ground would help in identifying the potential problems at the initial stages so that you can work on timely adjustments before moving forward.
Step #4: Use dashboards for data visualisation
While you should pay extra attention to effective reporting, the way you communicate data and statistics to the stakeholders can make all the difference. Efficient communication is the mainstay of successful project management, and dashboards make it possible. They are useful data visualisation tools that can be used for expressing the project status in a crisp yet comprehensive manner.
Typically, a project management dashboard offers an at-a-glance view of the essential performance KPIs. These are presented in a format which conveys the overall progress and highlights specific problems that require attention at any point in time. Further, you can even customise the dashboards to provide the information you need, which makes tracking and reporting more result-focused and saves time and effort of the stakeholders.
Step #5: Recommend improvement strategies and follow up
This final step in project tracking is recommending corrective action and following it up as well. Your focus should be to keep the project running smoothly and on-time while addressing the main challenges and pain points. Recommendations can include corrective and preventive actions, while you could also suggest changes in the project plan or execution.
As you offer recommendations for improvements, there is a need to provide specific guidance, assign the action to a reliable team member and ensure that they implement the requisite action by a specific date. Ask them to report back on the outcome of their action as a part of the follow-up plan. This step is vital to ensure that you get tangible benefits from project tracking.
Following this series of steps with project tracking can make the entire process more fruitful and effective. Proper tracking is vital to your project's success, so the effort you invest in these steps is entirely worthwhile. Apart from following these steps, the implementation of a smart project management solution is a great idea. Opt for one that has reporting and dashboarding features so that you can avail the benefits of effective tracking with it.
The author is a construction project manager with Zepth and has a flair for writing as well. Since She has a rich experience in working on construction projects of diverse sizes and scales, she likes sharing them as articles on leading blogs.