Starting a new role as a manager can be a daunting undertaking. An effective manager of a team must wear several hats: leader, coordinator, team developer, administrator, and motivator. Regardless of your position and scope, you will need to display several key skills, from organization and time management to decisiveness and communication.
Your role as manager will involve not only overseeing your team but also ensuring that the projects under your supervision run smoothly and meet their goals. To this end, your ability to track project progress is paramount. By keeping a close eye on the progress of your projects, you can identify potential bottlenecks, address issues, and make adjustments to keep everything on track.
These six different ways to track project progress will equip you with the necessary tools and knowledge you need to ensure that you steer and deliver projects successfully.
Setting clear goals is the cornerstone of successfully tracking the progress of your project. Utilizing the SMART framework is the most effective way of achieving this. SMART is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound.
Specific goals are well-defined and unambiguous. Measurable goals establish the criteria for assessing progress. Achievable goals are realistic and attainable. Relevant goals are aligned with the project’s objectives. Time-bound goals determine clear timeframes for completion.
By applying the SMART framework when setting goals, you provide your team with a clear roadmap to achieving the successful outcome of a project. This will also enable you to accurately assess the project’s efficacy and progress and make any necessary adjustments to ensure alignment with its ultimate objectives.
One of the enormous benefits of living in the digital age is your access to technology. In this case, project management software. This is invaluable to you as a new manager. There are a variety of options available, from comprehensive platforms such as Asana, Basecamp, Trello, or Microsoft Project to simplified tools like Gantt charts and Kanban boards.
Project management software gives you a bird’s eye view of the overall project’s progress in real time. It enables you to keep tabs on every aspect of your project, from task assignments to timelines and resource allocation. These tools facilitate informed decision-making and enable you to adapt quickly to the project’s ever-evolving requirements.
As the term suggests, milestones are significant events or achievements within a project, such as the completion of a critical phase, delivery of a key component, or a major project review.
Setting and tracking milestones will provide you with a strategic approach to breaking down the project into manageable pieces and assessing progress at pivotal stages.
Milestones will offer your team a clear and actionable path and allow them to see progress and success markers like road signs along the project’s journey, showing the team that they are heading in the right direction.
Milestones will give you the opportunity to celebrate achievements and motivate your team while also enabling you to assess whether the project is on schedule and identify areas where adjustments might be necessary.
Identifying key metrics that are specific to your project provides valuable insights into its progress. They act like a compass, affording you critical insight into how well the project is performing. These metrics might include tasks completed, time spent, resource utilization, and budget spent.
The primary benefit of metrics is that they provide data. Monitoring these metrics periodically will allow you to detect areas that require improvement or attention. You may discover a skills gap in your marketing team and need to hire an SEO expert to address this, or you could determine that you’re fast approaching your budget cap and need to rethink your expenditure.
Having accurate, up-to-date metrics will ensure that you don’t make decisions blindly that could impact the overall outcome. Instead, your decisions will be data-driven and have a solid basis to work from.
Project progress tracking must extend beyond measuring successes. The reality is that risk is commonplace in the complex landscape of project management. You will need to identify and address these potential risks and obstacles if you are to track a project successfully.
By initiating and executing a risk assessment process, you will be able to stay ahead of potential issues and prevent them from derailing your project.
A successful risk assessment undertaking involves three preliminary steps.
Having completed this analysis, prioritize which risks to focus on.
Once you have established the identity, impact, and likelihood of a risk occurring, you will need to create a risk mitigation plan that outlines how you will manage each risk if it materializes. You will also need to continuously monitor and update this plan so that you can take proactive measures to keep your project on track, even in the face of unexpected problems.
As a manager, your ability to communicate effectively with your team will be key to you successfully managing any project, so it is vital to keep the channels of communication open. Holding daily or weekly team meetings is a powerful way for you to track project progress. This ensures that your team stays on the same page and is aligned with the project’s objectives.
Team meetings foster a sense of ownership and accountability. They afford your team the opportunity to provide updates on their assigned tasks, discuss challenges or roadblocks they may be facing, and brainstorm solutions collectively.
These meetings will also facilitate your ability to assess whether the project is adhering to the established milestones, allocate resources as needed, and address potential issues before they escalate.
As a new manager, your ability to successfully track the progress of a project will be a critical skill. By setting clear and measurable goals, leveraging project management software, monitoring key metrics, tracking milestones, addressing risks, and convening regular team meetings, you will go a long way to ensuring that your project remains on course and aligns with its principal objectives.
Effective project progress tracking will enhance your team’s performance and substantially improve the odds of successfully completing any project. By adhering to and mastering these six ways to track project progress, you will boost productivity, meet deadlines, and achieve desired outcomes consistently. This will boost your capabilities and confidence in navigating the world of business project management.