Step 1: Use real-time information
Project team members will be reporting project progress to you so make it easy for them by using real-time information. Choose a project tool that can capture real-time task information. This will give them everything they need to prepare their status updates quickly so you can consolidate the data for your overall tracking.
Step 2: Use dashboards
Real-time data can also be used to populate a project dashboard. This is a graphical representation of project progress made up of charts. It’s the quickest way to see whether your project is on track as it can show you at a glance whether or not your project is behind schedule or over budget.
Dashboards are simple ways of checking project progress and they make it much easier to track where you are and what still needs to be done.
Step 3: Use change management
The change management process on a project is a way to make sure that all changes are assessed and recorded appropriately. If you don’t use a change management process, you won’t be able to tell what is different on your project. As a result, it’s hard to track progress, because some project tasks will be different, deleted or added. If your project plans aren’t up to date with all the new changes, it’s impossible to tell if you are on track or not!
Make sure that you use change management on your project so that you update your plans and schedule with new tasks as required.
Step 4: Update your plans regularly
Even if there are no changes on your project you should still go back to your original plans and update them regularly. It’s normal for tasks on a project to start on slightly different dates, take a bit more time or a bit less time or be completed by someone different to the person who was originally allocated to the work. Those kind of day-to-day changes are commonplace, but you should update your plan to reflect the reality of your project.
If your plan is not up-to-date, tracking status becomes even harder and real-time information won’t help because you won’t be reporting the real situation! It doesn’t take long to review and amend your plans, so put time in your diary each week to go through the project tasks and make sure that they are correct.
Step 5: Use timesheets
Finally, timesheets can be a huge help in tracking progress. A timesheet will let you see exactly who has worked on what this week and how much progress they have made. You can then use the data to amend your project plan or to simply report on status.
Timesheets are not difficult to set up or to complete, especially when they are built-in to your project management software. Ask your team to fill in their timesheets regularly and you’ll always know the latest status of project tasks.