Any business, regardless of its size, needs an efficient project management strategy to organize labor. As most of the work is performed in teams, there is a need to manage and harmonize their activities to achieve optimal results.
Having a comprehensive and functional project management plan can save a lot of money, time, and nerves. Contrary to popular opinion, the purpose of the project plan is not mere fulfillment of the tasks.
People aren’t machines, and the reality in which we live and work is often unpredictable. The true art of project management is following the procedure and staying flexible while monitoring the project progress at every step of the way.
Tracking the performance of your team is the second most important thing after resume review to understand your coworkers’ tempo and workflow. In this article, the essential principles of tracking your project’s progress are explored and explained.
In every airplane, there is a flight recorder or the so-called black box. The only purpose of this sturdy device is to record cockpit voices and operations. In case of a crash, the company knows what caused the accident.
Project management needs project performance tracking for the same reason airline companies need the black box. The keyword here is learning. We must learn about our performance to do be able to do better in the future.
Unlike the black box, a project manager can also prevent accidents from happening.
Each project management plan seeks to organize the existing resources (people, money, time), mitigate risks and achieve a certain goal. A manager should do it in a way that maximizes the gains and minimizes the costs. A company can seek to improve safety and implement the best firewall management practicies or develop a new product line. Whichever it is, almost every process and activity depend on project managers. Their competence and ability to translate ideas into action are crucial for business conduct.
Businesses are very well aware of how costly project failure can be. Therefore, they expect their project managers to plan and be as efficient as possible.
The secret of best project managers is in thorough project performance tracking, from beginning to end. You probably heard the famous saying: “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it”.
The next question is: how do you do that? How do you track the project status to make sure all project team members are on the same track while staying on schedule and budget?
Including all of the team members at this stage is crucial if you want to successfully track the progress of your project later on. Everyone needs to know the general structure of the plan in order to understand their individual responsibilities.
Thus, include any relevant departments. For example, a discussion on best strategies to monetize an app the company just made is of direct interest to the higher management and sales and marketing departments. However, managers can also include other departments representatives. Managers can do this if they think that the knowledge and expertise of these people are relevant to the matter.
The goals and milestones are desired achievements that are cornerstones of your plan. They should be defined in such a way that it is possible to measure them. You measure the level of goal achievement through KPIs (Key Performance Indicators).
Each target should have appropriate KPIs assigned, whether qualitative or quantitative. For example, if we want to completely avoid delays (a goal), then we want our milestones reached on time value (KPI) to be no less than 100%.
As you can see, apart from deciding which KPIs are indicative of which goals, it is important to determine their desired values. In such a way, a comprehensive measurement system will be established and enable you and your team to track the progress. Furthermore, make sure to include only those KPIs that require data you have access to.
If a project plan is chopped into smaller segments, it
seems much less overwhelming to the employees
much easier to keep track of
It goes without saying that every project management plan has deadlines for each and every process it foresees. Deadlines are important for project tracking because if they are met or not tell a lot about the project status to the project manager. If there are delays, it is a clear sign something is wrong.
The more deadlines there are, the sooner and easier a manager can notice the problem.
A project manager’s position in a company is one of great responsibility, and the workload can be overwhelming. As a result, many managers use new technologies to improve business processes and make their lives easier. They enable you to send digital invoices and invoice reminders to your clients, provide cloud-based solutions, digital credit card readers, etc.
Project planning gains a new dimension as remote work gains popularity. Managers that have to conduct remote teams encounter a number of difficulties. It is harder to motivate employees, communicate in real-time, make accurate estimations and decisions, etc. Technological solutions are, therefore, particularly relevant here. There are many project management tools for remote teams as well.
One of the most important roles of a team manager is to coordinate people. They are the harmonization factor between the small and the big picture. Therefore, it is their duty to regularly inform team members and stakeholders about the overall process of the project in order to avoid any misunderstandings, delays, and conflicts.
Although these meet-ups can be intense when things aren’t going well, it is still very important to organize them. Furthermore, a project manager has a duty to regularly submit status reports about the project to the stakeholders involved. Not only does this improve the information flow, but it also boosts the flow of creative ideas.
Moreover, occasional individual check-ins with an employee is another good practice example. A semi-formal or even informal chat is an opportunity to build trust. It is also good to foresee any arising conflicts, but it also gives space for unmotivated employees to communicate any arising problem.
If your team works remotely, a friendly follow-up email is another way to show some appreciation.
You can see the pattern here: you should do everything you can to make sure you notice problems and risks on time. A project manager should make sure team members and stakeholders communicate well and help everyone keep pace. At the same time, using technology and creative management platforms helps managers organize teams and track project progress more quickly and efficiently.
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Mike Lata (aka Maciej Duraj)
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