A good project monitoring strategy is the key to project success. It ensures that the team stays on track and that you follow through with planned activities. To develop this strategy, here are four tips to consider:
Look at the big picture. When looking at a project, it's easy to think that the only thing that matters is whether or not the team has completed assigned tasks. But if you want a successful project that meets its goals and deadlines, is on budget, and within scope—it's essential to look at the big picture.
Metrics alone don't tell much about team accomplishments or what needs to be done for the project. Instead of looking purely at metrics when monitoring projects, try instead focusing on:
- Does everyone understand their assignments?
- Is everyone working towards the goal together?
- Have all the deadlines been met so far?
- Can changes be made without affecting deadlines?
- Is the budget running low in any categories or approved expenditures?
- What resources need replenishing first before others get used up?
Track procrastination. As a project manager, you must track the progress of tasks. A straightforward method for monitoring the progress of individual tasks is using a spreadsheet or other tools to track these metrics. It's vital to quickly get an overview of how much time each task was supposed to take and how much time it actually took.
The problem with this approach is that it's too reactive. Any issues with a team member's work may only be noticed when looking back at the data weeks after completion. By then, it might be too late for any corrective actions. Instead, tackle this challenge head-on before it even happens (or at least soon enough). A straightforward solution is to track procrastination (delays in starting tasks) and task completion times in project management software (e.g., MS Project).
Explore alternative models. To improve project monitoring, look at alternative models or work methods.
To start with, consider the following:
- What works best for the team? A Scrum board or a Kanban board? Are there some other tools that would be more effective?
- Is it possible to use two boards or lists simultaneously—one for tasks and one for issue resolution?
- What other tools, models, or methods would increase success?
Focus on the right things. Project teams have a lot on their plates, especially when they need to deliver critical projects for the business. However, the overload can lead to the project team spending too much time monitoring and controlling trivial tasks, which takes away from more important activities.
Monitoring should focus on those tasks that will have the most impact on the project (e.g., those on the critical path) and its timeline. That way, everyone can move forward quickly with minimal delay. Monitoring should look at every task in context:
- In what stage of development is the task?
- How much effort has been put into it so far?
- Are there any potential roadblocks?
- If it's unclear how a task benefits the project or is a low priority compared to others, consider if it should take up any time right now.
This method allows you to cut through unnecessary monitoring weeds while preserving important ones.
Do you have other tips for project monitoring? Be sure to leave them in the comments below!
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