Project Tracker 101: How to Skyrocket your Project Success by Proper Project Tracking

Project Tracker guide

Many long-term and complex projects fail to live up to their expectation causing severe waste of time, money and resources, and often end up delivering low-quality products.

Take for example the project of the London Olympics of 2012, whose budget of 9.2 billion euro is triple the original estimates and crossed the consistency budget of 3 billion euro two years before the deadline in 2010. (Source)

Not all projects will be such high profile ones, but there are many projects which exceed both deadline and budgets. The projects in technology fields have the worst records of project failures which exceed above 50%.

This study shows that a staggeringly low amount of IT and tech projects get completed successfully every year. By low we mean 2.5%, yes you read that correctly.

Benoit Hardy-Vallee, a former Project Manager, in a recent study, says that companies follow the rational rules for project management while the emotional ones are often ignored. While rationality is critical as the organization cannot just go with the flow, hoping for the best, the ignorance of the emotional factors involved in the project can often cause members of the team to follow the compliance, and ignore the outcome of the job done.

As per Benoit, when the projects fail, one or more reason traces to the following factors

Technical - (Technology developed)
Individual- (Project leadership, scope management, communication)
Stakeholders- (User investment, goal specificity)

Project failures can be avoided by proper project planning and tracking.

A project tracking system helps you achieve milestones. You cannot just plan the project and sit and watch, while simultaneously expecting your team to complete it successfully. That’s not just insane but completely impractical.

Projects are complex, and people make mistakes, the budget gets bloated, you run the risk of running out of resources and deliver low quality. Avoid this by tracking the progress in real-time and set realistic expectations. You, as a project manager, must be active on the project site and handle important things personally.

Everybody is concerned with how to do the job and not the outcome of the job. (Source)

What is the Project Tracker?

A project tracker can be any software or paper sheet which helps you record the progress of the project effectively.

What is Project Tracker Software?

Project tracking software helps you track progress efficiently and achieve the desired product quality before the deadline. It may come alone or is integrated with project management software as an all-in-one platform.

Project tracking helping in making project estimations as accurate as possible. It enables you to identify various loopholes in the project which you can address and improve in a future project.

For example, you may have come across a task which was not only draining your time but also drained the budget by a significant rate. You can address a particular job and improve the process in the future.

Why use a Project Tracker?

As the world develops at an increasingly fast pace, the projects are getting complicated day by day. The field of project management is changing, and it is changing fast!

We all are afraid of failures. Every project manager goes into a project with the mentality of completing it successfully before the deadline. But we know it rarely happens. The project involves many variables such as budget, resources, labour cost and comes with unknown risk which if not handled properly is a sure-fire way of adding a heap of problems to the project.

In the United States alone, almost every year failed IT project cost around $50-$150 billion. (Source)

Below are the benefits of using the project tracking software:

› Track your milestones easily:

Project tracking software has become advanced within the last decade. You no more have to manage the sheet where you have to record every milestone. It is done quickly with the help of software. Project tracking software also allows you to notify your team members every time you achieve a milestone. You feel a surge of relief that the project is going on the correct path.

› Prioritize the important tasks:

‘Prioritization of tasks is easy said no manager ever.’

Prioritizing tasks in the project is often the challenging part for many. Prioritizing can shift due to various reasons, but not prioritizing at all can put your project and team members in danger. Every project will have several tasks, but not all of them are important to do first. Some tasks will always be your priority.

For instance, in Mega construction projects, the safety of the workers and yourself involved should be your priority.

Here are some tips on how you can effectively prioritize your project tasks:

› Have a backlog:

The backlog is a concept extracted from agile software development. It captures all the tasks of projects. You can then assign these tasks to the team members accordingly. Many Project Tracking software helps you create a backlog folder that everyone can access.

› Understand the ins and out of your project:

If you know your business thoroughly in-depth, it is easier to understand which task to prioritize first. Some points which can help you in giving an in-depth view of the project are:

1. Read thoroughly about the industry of the project
2. Know what the stakeholders and managers want.
3. Continue learning every day as the concepts and ideas get outdated quickly. Hence keep yourself up to date with industry standards.

› Weekly Status Updates:

Getting a progress update is critical. Nobody likes being in the dark. Project tracking software helps you document changes in real-time (What’s the use of the update if they are outdated). It also allows you to send a notification to the upper management and team members about the changes and the updates member.

Weekly status update keeps the project on the correct path and ensures that the tasks are being completed in a timely and consistent manner. Weekly status updates are the best ways to avoid any challenging surprises later as the small risk which may have arisen get resolved promptly.

› Effective communication:

They say communication is the key to a successful relationship, and the same is the thing with project management. Lack of communication is often the number one reason behind failure in projects. Projects are fluid meaning not everything will go smoothly. As a project manager, you must be ready to face challenges and prepare your team members to meet them too.

For instance, in case of any significant problem that may arise, it is natural to avoid communication with the stakeholder regarding the risks. But you must still be courageous enough to pick a call and let stakeholder know about the danger before it snowballs into bundles of threat and wreak havoc in the project.

It is hard, but effective communication will help both the stakeholders and team members know what is expected from them and also make it easy to understand the long term goals of the business.

Avoid frustration by effective communication should be your motto.
Effective communication with your team member will help you in many ways possible.

› Central reporting dashboard:

Project tracking software displays everything at one central place for everyone. It includes the option for tracking milestones, connect with team members and stakeholders, easy file sharing, and sending emails to concerned parties all at one central place.

How to use a Project Tracker?

Here you can find the best information about how to use project tracker for your project. Take a look…

› Create a project outline:

A project outline is a draft or a document wherein all the information regarding the project is summarized. Its purpose is to tell what needs to be done at what time to succeed. The project outline includes a timeline of the tasks and project phases to keep everyone and everything on track.

Time is money!!!

Ensuring the project gets complete at the proper time is crucial for the project’s success. Creating an outline will help you achieve milestones and not get distracted due to external factors.

› Establish clear goals and objectives:

In the above point, you saw that the project outline helps create clear goals and objectives.

A project with vague goals and objectives can often confuse the teams about what they are doing and why.

As a project manager, you must position yourself to prevent such situations and drive the accomplishment of tasks by breaking the task into smaller chunks and assign them to the proper member.

Many times, breaking task into smaller chunks enables teams to focus and great their efforts in achieving the ultimate project goals and quickly manage the risks that may arise and solve it before it gets the vast problems.

However, it would be best if you kept yourself open to any changes in the goals and objectives as they may change due to many external factors involves. The inherent quality which separates a good manager from the bad one is dedicated oversight and management without which a project can falter swiftly. A good project manager will enable the team to focus on objectives and accomplish the milestones.

› Weekly project meetings:

As a Project manager, you might find your schedule to be jam-packed. Many times daily management of projects and asking every member about progress will be near to impossible task to achieve. That is where weekly meetings will help you.

Weekly meetings are critical for every project. Why so? This meeting helps you know the problems and risks which may have arisen during the week. It will help you in giving a clear idea about what is working and what should be improved.

Weekly meetings help track progress effectively. And simultaneously helps in managing the productivity of human resources. You can find out which team member is not following the deadline or which one is producing the lower quality.

› Regular Check-ins:

Check-in at regular intervals helps know the health of the project. This check-in helps in understanding the small problems and taking proper preventive measures before they become a considerable threat. As a project manager, it is your responsibility to invest time for regular checks up to avoid miscalculations in the future.

Regular check also helps in tracking the productivity of team members and lets you know which ones are not delivering the required service quality.

› Asking for feedback and opinion on the project:

As a project manager, it is your job to take feedbacks from your team members without getting defensive. Often lack of feedbacks results in lesser employee satisfaction and lower productivity. As a project manager, your feedback should come from your team members, clients, your managers, and colleagues.

Feedbacks are an essential part of a project and provide insights which many times hides behind the surface from project managers.

You can ask questions like:

Do you think the project is progressing at too fast a pace to handle?
Is there a specific problem you are facing while doing your tasks?
Do you think the quality is excellent, or does it need any changes?

› Set realistic expectations:

Being unrealistic in approach will lead to the over-ambitiousness or lacks the estimating insights of the project. Too often, project managers can stress the urgency in the completion of a task which compromises the delivery steps and ultimately results in low quality.

Know that your team members are human too. Unrealistic expectations or too much urgency in doing the job can make them overstressed and many can leave the project in between.

A good manager can create a straightforward process that everyone can follow to achieve the deadline and enable the project team to work within reasonable limits and not unrealistic expectations.

Conclusion

More and more companies are taking project management and tracking seriously. Project failures are expensive matters and can seriously damage your reputation as a project manager.

Hence project managers need to learn lessons from past project failures and avoid making such mistakes in the future.

A good project tracker will help you complete the project before the deadline and also ensure the highest product quality possible.

Project tracking will help you increase the chances of success by setting a clear objective, weekly updates, and effective collaboration.

Happy tracking!!

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