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How to Monitor Project Progress

 

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Projects can become disorganized without tracking progress upon their tasks and objectives. Project progress monitoring is based on defining percentage of project components completed on time and on quality. The percentage of work completed is derived from particular values assigned to different tasks or deliverables included into the scope of project work. There are two basics for monitoring:

  • Frequency – a time pattern used for monitoring: how often you need to update your knowledge on what and how is going on at the project, hence the project participants are informed to create and send their progress reports with certain frequency.
  • Reporting – actually the main source of the information for project monitoring. These reports usually are based upon templates (forms) which represent the scope of all information necessary to have an objective picture of progress made. Reports usually pass through a multilevel system of managerial verification prior they contribute into progress update.

2) Traditional Conception of Project Progress Monitoring:
The basic approach applied to monitoring progress on the projects is focused on dealing with the classic triangle of project management: Time-Costs-Quality. These three fundamental constraints are being continually reported and measured throughout the entire project execution, making sure that the project is being effectively performed in terms of meeting target dates, matching budgetary plans and delivering project results complying with the specified quality standards.

These fundamental matters are monitored through a system of qualitative and quantitative indicators which can be summarized as the following:

  • Costs – they are controlled to check whether a budget is correctly fulfilled on every step, so no excessive costs and budget overrun are possible. Cost control is based on comparing preliminary estimates given to every activity in the project plan against the actual expenses;
  • Timeliness – it is controlled with a help of comparing amount of time utilized on every project step or task against the estimated time given to them in the project schedule to know how their durations comply with the plan. This process is based on checking work timing and milestones – dates when delivering of certain results is due;
  • Outcomes – they are controlled in order to define if deliverables produced by the project meet their specifications in terms of quality. Tangible or intangible project results are qualitatively planned and continually controlled both at the level of processes producing them and at the level of outputs to be quality approved;

3) Advanced Conception of Project Progress Monitoring:
While Time-Costs-Quality monitoring is suitable for a great number of small and medium projects, this conception may appear rigid or unproductive when used at larger and more complex projects. This can be rectified by extending the basic conception by adding more areas to be monitored:

  • The Team Factor: it embraces a scope of indicators which project managers can monitor to stay in contact with the situation in their teams, ensuring their ability to deliver results of proper quality. This factor includes matters of accountability, competency, unity and leadership. This may include the following things to monitor (examples):
    • How well people resolve and prevent interpersonal conflicts in the team;
    • How well team members make decisions and resolve problems;
    • How well they communicate and support each other;
    • How effectively competence of team members suits their tasks;
  • The Customer Factor: this refers to management of relationships with the project customers, controlling their satisfaction, project engagement, intentions and understanding of project scope. If properly monitored, this will allow the project managers to leverage relationships with their customers in a more accurate way, foreseeing and preventing customer dissatisfactions, scope changes and other possible troubles. You may need to monitor:
    • How effectively customer representatives carry out their functions;
    • How clear and definite agreements with the customer are;
    • How correctly customer requirements and suggestions are interpreted by the team;
    • How satisfied the customer is with intermediary deliverables;
  • The Risk Factor: once every project is connected with a bunch of different risks endangering success of its execution, it is necessary to keep these risks under control to know whether the risk profile of the project is stable, increasing or decreasing. This also refers to monitoring how well risks mitigation methods are implemented and how effective they are. This includes:
    • How well risk mitigation methods are implemented;
    • How the factors increasing or decreasing risks are respected;
    • How the probability and influence of certain risks fluctuate;
    • How safe the customers and team members feel about the risks;

4) Action Plan to Monitor Project Progress:

  1. Create project WBS, estimates, schedule, budget and quality specifications;
  2. Make sure each task in the plan has objectives (timing, budgeting and quality requirements);
  3. Make sure the risks on the project are assessed and you have methods to mitigate them;
  4. Conceptualize performance indicators to be tracked to capture time, costs and quality;
  5. Create forms (templates) for the following:
    • Task completion report;
    • Task progress report (a status report);
    • Task issues report;
  6. Have monitoring tools ready: blank report forms or project reporting software of your choice;
  7. Regulate frequency and rules of reporting;
  8. Establish a set of necessary documentation to be attached to the report for approving its results, some data you may need (optional):
    • Date of completion;
    • Completion review;
    • Verification from the supervisor;
    • Costs report;
    • Quality assurance conclusion;
    • Issues report;
    • Explanatory notes;
  9. Capture the fact of a task progress or completion, once reported, consider attached information;
  10. Compare obtained information against the plan, standards or other success criteria;
  11. Mark off the completed task from the plan, if it satisfies the success criteria;
  12. Give the acceptance certificate to close this work;
  13. If the task is performed improperly in some terms, then calculate loss and impact on the project;
  14. Use input of team leaders and supervisors to control and leverage the Team Factors;
  15. Monitor project work with the project customers to control their requirements, expectations and engagement;

5) Project Progress Monitoring with a help of VIP Task Manager:

VIP Task Manager is a product that stands for collaboration between managers and employees, so it allows managers to monitor projects being explained in terms of particular tasks and assigned to employees. Let’s consider simple step-by-step instruction to manage work in this product:

Instruments to be used:

  • Task Tree mode;
  • Task List mode;

Task Tree mode actions (for planning and monitoring):

  1. Plan the project and specify its tasks in terms of their attributes;
  2. Assign tasks to perfromers;
  3. Use “Status” and “Complete” to monitor the current status of your tasks;
  4. Use “Notes” and “Attachments” to obtain links to additional documents;
  5. Observe progress on the tasks being associated with certain project stages;

Task List mode actions:

  1. Group tasks to categorize them visually (by any attribute);
  2. Use Filters to display tasks according to certain performer or time;
  3. Check “Status” of every task to see what step it is currently on;
  4. Check “Complete” field to control grade of completeness;

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