This blog looks at project progress monitoring. Many people spend time creating a project plan, and then never refer back to is. It is, of course, beneficial to have the project baselined before starting the monitoring process.
Why Monitoring Progress is Important
Projects need to be monitored to ensure satisfactory progress is made. That progress should be against the baselined plan.
A plan of a project is like a map of a journey, the map tells you where you are, and how much progress you have made. Decisions can then be made to either speed up, or slow-down, or add an interesting diversion, in order to reach the destination on time.
Monitoring Agile Projects
AGILE projects have a regular ‘Showcase’ or ‘Sprint Review’ where the working product is demonstrated. These will occur at regular pre-agreed intervals, usually every 2, 3, or 4 weeks. This provides a regular rhythm to the monitoring process. Progress towards these reviews are measured by a ‘Burndown’ chart of ‘Features’ achieved.
Visual Project Monitoring
A visual method for displaying progress of tasks in a project is a Kanban board. These can be used as a team focal point for discussion on upcoming tasks and progress made.
Regular Things to Monitor
Regular projects often have three objectives, Time, Cost, and Quality, and each of these must be monitored.
However, to get a true indication of the facts, several measurements each are required. After all, one reading may be wrong (and you wouldn’t know), two readings may be different (and you have no idea which is right, and which is wrong), so three or four readings are required. Below are some suggestions for how to measure several items in each category:
Items to measure for Time:
- Number of tasks not started, in progress, and completed
- Number of tasks started early, on-time, late
- Number of tasks finished early, on-time, late
- Number of on-time deliveries
Items to measure for Cost:
- Budget spent to date
- Budget against plan
- Earned Value
- Number/Value of Invoices issued/received
Items to measure for Quality:
- Features delivered
- Tasks completed without re-work
- Amount of re-work / overtime
- Returned goods value
- Number of bug fixes required
- Revision numbers on documents/drawings
Every project is different, and each will have essential items that need to be tracked.
How to Track Project Progress Effectively
When you have decided what to track, that is not the end of it:
- How are you going to track it?
- Is it easy to track?
- What information do senior management require?
- How frequently will it be tracked?
- Who is to provide the information?
- What format is the information required in?
All of these things need agreeing for each item tracked.
Extra Things to Monitor
However, there are three other factors that need careful examination, and these can be an early indicator of time, cost, and quality progress issues:
- RISK – new risks, risks that have been triggered, changes to risks
- CHANGE – new scope, new tasks, fewer tasks
- RESOURCES – sickness levels, resource availability against plan. resource turnover resource skills
These three items can give an indication of future cost, quality, and schedule issues in the project. But again, several items in each category need to be monitored.
Lots of Items to Monitor in Projects!
There are therefore many things to monitor in projects, and a lot of work required to collect, analyse, format, and communicate the results.
Do you monitor your projects closely enough?