Successful project management has never relied on a “set it and forget it” mentality. In order to run efficient projects, PMs need to not only launch said projects, but monitor and track their progress. While project monitoring is regularly overlooked or viewed as just another box to check off on the PM’s task list, it’s a vital part of the project lifespan.
In this post, we’ll cover:
- What project monitoring is, and why it’s important
- How to monitor projects easily and effectively
- Project monitoring tips and best practices you can implement today
Let’s get started.
What is project monitoring?
When considering the project management process, project monitoring (also referred to as “project monitoring and control”) comes as step four — following initiation, planning, and the beginning of execution. Once the project execution begins, project monitoring also commences. But, what exactly is project monitoring?
Project monitoring involves tracking a project’s metrics, progress, and associated tasks to ensure everything is completed on time, on budget, and according to project requirements and standards. Project monitoring also includes recognizing and identifying roadblocks or issues that might arise during the project’s execution, and taking action to rectify these problems.
Why is project monitoring important?
To put it simply, the success of a project relies on complete and dynamic project monitoring. Careful project monitoring empowers PMs to gather valuable data regarding how a project is going — and to use this data to make intelligent decisions.
Some other key benefits of the project monitoring phase include:
- Ensuring that tasks are being carried out according to project requirements (quality control)
- Letting the PM make sure important deadlines are met
- Providing a thorough perspective on employee workload and capacity
- Allowing for project changes or remedies in case of problems
- Offering clear budget tracking and adherence
- Encouraging accountability from both team members and stakeholders
Now that you understand what project monitoring is and why it’s beneficial, it’s time for a high-level overview of the project monitoring process.
How to monitor projects
In order to implement the project monitoring and control process effectively and efficiently, there are a number of commonly accepted elements involved.
Project baseline confirmation
Before you actually get started with any active monitoring, the PM will want to understand the project’s scope, budget, and timeline. This helps provide a benchmark for success throughout the completion of the project.
Work monitoring and control
This involves keeping stakeholders up to date as well as regularly assessing the status of the project, the quality of the deliverables, and measuring these against baseline goals and metrics.
Change control integration
As you know by now, even the most organized projects can require changes now and then. You must be keeping track of resource considerations (budget, timeline, etc.) throughout the monitoring process. Ensure you’re creating and recording ongoing documentation and any required follow-ups regarding project changes.
In order to keep a record and ensure stakeholders and your team are on the same page, it’s important to secure documentation related to each phase of the project’s completion. This shows that the project is accepted at each stage of execution.
Schedule and cost control
This is where schedules and costs are monitored closely. When you think of project monitoring, this is most likely what you think of first. Deadlines are tracked and followed-up on if necessary, and budgets are consistently watched. Updates to cost and timeline estimates are made here.
A project can be done on-time and on-budget, but if it’s not what the stakeholder wants or the quality of the work is poor, it’s of little value to anyone. Quality control is an essential part of the project monitoring process. This is where specific project results and deliverables are looked at in comparison to established quality standards. If issues are found, changes are requested and made.
This is like a report card for the project. Performance reporting consists of collecting and sharing any data related to project performance in relation to baseline goals and standards. Here you’ll create and find status reports, progress notes, and future forecasts (using collected data).
Tips and best practices for project monitoring
Upon understanding what the project monitoring and control process generally includes, you’ll want to know how to best implement your new knowledge. Here are some tips and best practices for the project monitoring process.
Use the right tools
While the monitoring process can feel overwhelming, the right tools can definitely help. Whether you want to use Trello, which lets you view and combine timelines along with a Gantt Chart all in one place, or something like Wrike which offers multiple, customizable Dashboards to track processes, there are many options when it comes to monitoring your projects with a dynamic tool.
If you know you’ll want to use more than one tool, Unito offers a streamlined solution. When projects span multiple tools, it can be tough to track performance and ensure everything’s going the way it should. With deep integrations for the market’s top work management tools, Unito ensures you can monitor projects no matter what tool they’re in.
Effectively track KPIs
Monitoring a project without knowing what you’re monitoring for can be a fruitless task. To ensure the success of a project, you’ll need to track some key performance indicators or KPIs. These act like milestones along the course of the project and help make sure everything is on track.
Recognized KPIs include your project objectives (ie. a project that is on-time and on-budget), quality deliverables (if the quality standards are being met), effort and cost tracking (resourcing and budget), and project performance (changes in the project and number and importance of issues that arose).
Encourage effective communication
Trying to determine a project’s status without proper communication methods is a challenge. All of your team members and stakeholders need to understand the procedures, goals, and expectations prior to the project starting — and how to communicate these to you.
Whether it’s through marking a Wrike task complete or participating in weekly check-ins, it’s always a good idea to have a communications plan in place throughout your projects.
Conduct a retrospective
Not only does a project post-mortem let your team members air any grievances, but it provides you with valuable information you can use to fine-tune future projects. Once the project is complete, take time to schedule an hour or so to run through the project.
This is where you’ll reflect on any issues that arose, any deadlines that were missed, or anything else worth mentioning that came up as you monitored the project.
Keep your projects going strong
No project can run effectively without the help of careful project monitoring. Keeping track of timelines, goals, quality of work, and budget are all key responsibilities of any successful project manager. And, with the right tools and some best practices, you can rest assured that your project will be met with satisfied stakeholders — and happy team members.