Project management contains a whole world of responsibilities. From initiation to closeout, there are a ton of different components to balance and adjust. But with solid project monitoring, managing all of your project variables gets a lot easier. Here’s everything you need to know about project monitoring – from what it is, to how to do it well.
Project monitoring is a crucial element of all project management plans. Without it, you can’t see where or why projects fail. It essentially comes down to keeping tabs on all project-related measurements, proactively recognizing possible problems and taking the necessary steps to guarantee the project is completed on budget, on time and in scope.
But it’s also crucial for maximizing project ROI. Since project monitoring involves supervising all tasks and activities, failing to do it properly can limit the impact of successful projects. All-too-often project monitoring is glossed over – maybe reviewed just enough to meet the obligations of a project management plan, or worse, discounted altogether. But project managers do so at their peril.
Project monitoring exists to make sure you’re implementing a project as competently as possible. It should always be a cohesive and constant part of project management, and vital decisions should never be made without it. With that in mind, here’s how to actually go about it.
While an important part of project planning, project monitoring doesn’t really kick off until the implementation phase. This is the most exciting stage of the game, but also one of the most frustrating.
Your team needs to stay focused on your priorities, intelligently sharing the workload and spending the right amount of effort on different tasks. And you need to be able to identify drains on time and budget, recognize problems with quality, and manage your resources effectively.
You’ll want to pay special attention to these variables:
By staying on top of factors like these you’ll be able to identify issues as soon as they arise – whether that’s overworked employees, too much time spent on a small task, or a depleted budget. But what’s the best way to actually keep track of these things?
Task tracking is the single best way of monitoring all project work. Investing in a robust task tracker will allow your team to accurately record the effort they put into different deliverables, so you can stay on top of deadlines, team capacity and priorities in real-time.
Task trackers effectively break down how your team spends time across your project. This enables you to:
Effective communication is another essential tool for successful project monitoring. Every member of your team should have clearly outlined procedures and goals that determine when and what they’ll be working on—and be able to share their progress seamlessly.
Aim to have frequent check-ins with team members—at least once a week—and think carefully about what communication tools to use. Your tools should make it easier and quicker to stay updated and share information, without interrupting workflows. A communications framework can help protect against this.
Project monitoring doesn’t end once you’ve shipped your project. To mean anything at all, you need to actually reflect on what happened and what actions you took to keep your project on course.
Consider whether tasks were carried out as planned: what areas dominated your team’s focus? Which tasks didn’t require much attention? What went well? What ate up your budget? How did your changes affect your project’s course? How did this performance compare to that of similar previous projects?
It’s all about seeing what effective change actually looks like. With these learnings, you can hopefully build more robust project plans for similar work in future. You should never monitor projects in a vacuum—every project should be informed by past experience and fully dissected once finished to truly understand what "success" looks like.