Project tracking: Staying on top of activities, team members and partners
In this article, we've compiled expert advice on monitoring project progress, ensuring team member accountability and performance, as well as handling external stakeholders. Additionally, you'll find here a list of best practices for effective project tracking.
In the dynamic and often volatile realm of project management, one attribute distinguishes successful project managers from the rest – effective project tracking. To navigate the complex landscape of single and multiple projects, it is crucial to have a comprehensive, real-time view of all activities, team members, and partners. Such an overview not only illuminates the path to project completion but also reveals potential pitfalls along the way, enabling managers to make proactive decisions that align with strategic objectives.
Acting as the command centre from where project managers monitor and control every aspect of a project's life cycle, project tracking lies at the core of project management. It involves overseeing tasks, ensuring deadlines are met, tracking progress against the plan, and promptly addressing issues. Generally, it is about maintaining an accurate and updated picture of your project status, including the roles of various stakeholders such as team members and partners.
To achieve these goals, project managers need to track three primary aspects: activities, team members, and project partners. By staying on top of these elements, managers can ensure the project stays on schedule and deliverables are achieved within the specified timeframe.
Tracking activities: A bird’s-eye view over your project progress
Every project, regardless of its size or complexity, should be broken down into deliverables and a series of activities or tasks leading to the achievement of the deliverables. These interdependent tasks usually form work packages and ultimately build the work breakdown structure. It’s recommended to break down the project into smaller, manageable pieces with attached due dates and assignors to make them more feasible, promote productivity and ease project tracking.
Efficient project tracking involves keeping a close watch on these activities: their status, who is responsible for them, their deadlines, and any associated risks or issues. Modern project management tools enable project managers to track task progress and identify any bottlenecks or delays promptly. These tools provide various ways to visualise these activities, such as Kanban boards or Gantt charts. Kanban boards are good for project participants to see their tasks and deliverables grouped by status to quickly check which items are waiting or already done. A Gantt chart is important for overviewing timing of work items in the bigger picture, seeing deadlines past and ahead, dependencies between work items, and checking schedule while planning new projects to avoid overload.
EMDESK takes it a step further and offers not only Kanban and Gantt chart views, but also a Table view allowing for an encompassing dashboard overview of the entire project structure with various metrics and KPIs like progress, completion or delay. Here, one can choose to either obtain a general view of the project or use a filter to delve deeper into specific aspects like work packages (WPs), tasks, deliverables, and milestones.
You can create your own dashboards and tailor your table view by customising column headers, setting filters and specifying the data you want to monitor. Some may be more interested in the progress of Project A or WP A.1, others may be interested in finances over all projects, while others – in the effort spent against the plan of their activities for their own organisation. Thus, these views are not only for project coordinators, but also for financial or any other representatives from project partners. Whether you wish to review a specific staff member's task status or assess the advancement of deliverables, completion percentage, and cost consumption, EMDESK makes it possible in just a couple of clicks.
Expert tip: A project must aim for ambitious goals while setting achievable and realistic timelines and schedules to ensure that the team remains excited and continues generating innovative ideas.
Tracking team members: Ensuring accountability and performance
Project teams often comprise diverse individuals with unique skills and responsibilities. Effective project tracking requires project managers to be aware of what each team member is working on, their progress, and any challenges they may be facing to take when needed preemptive action.
Active tracking ensures accountability, promotes transparency, and maintains performance levels. It involves regular check-ins with team members, providing constructive feedback, and offering assistance when necessary. If someone is overloaded and struggling, maybe redistribution of tasks or additional support is needed.
One more advantage of the EMDESK project and financial management tool is that it allows you to open discussions on each and every project task. Conversations for problem-solving and brainstorming are just a tab away. By detecting early warning signs of potential issues, simply open the discussion on the relevant task and ask task leaders about the challenges and problems they are facing. This level of oversight can significantly enhance team performance and productivity.
Expert tip: Ensure team members understand schedules and deadlines before the project is launched. Involving team members early in the planning process ensures a shared responsibility and accountability once the final project schedule is set.
Tracking project partners: Managing stakeholders
In today's interconnected world, complex projects often involve several external partners such as partners, contractors, suppliers, or consultants. Their performance can significantly impact the project's outcome. Hence, tracking partners is just as important as tracking internal activities and team members.
Project managers need to monitor partners' performance against agreed-upon objectives and key performance indicators (KPIs), ensure their tasks align with the project's timeline, and address any arising issues. This level of tracking maintains a high standard of quality, ensures the delivery of work within agreed deadlines, and fosters stronger, more collaborative relationships with partners.
The EMDESK platform allows you to map out complex project consortia and organise them in teams, departments, organisations, etc. When bringing external partners onboard, you can easily monitor their progress, deliverables, and consumption in terms of budget and resources.
Best practices for efficient project tracking
The success of your project depends heavily on proactive management, efficient communication, thorough preparation, and appropriate project tracking practices. Below are five essential strategies to maintain your project's desired trajectory, ensuring it is completed on time and within schedule.
Leverage collaboration tools
Utilise project management software tools with team collaboration capabilities to centralise communication and serve as a hub for your project. This eliminates the inefficiencies of excessive email communication and ensures smooth task assignment, deadline setting, document sharing, and project timeline compliance.
The Gantt chart is your go-to for monitoring project timelines. Providing a comprehensive visual representation of project schedules in real-time, it allows teams to understand the timeline, dependencies, and critical path of tasks easily.
What is the advantage of using a tool like EMDESK
fostering transparency for everyone - one central hub to inform yourself in real-time
one place to check status and provide and change updates
one place to follow up on activities of other project members
one place to track actions to allow recall how things evolved, when, who did what
allows working within a context, for example, discussing directly on a work item, referencing to other items with @mention, attaching and gathering documents about an work item, basically having everything organised around a work item, and not lost somewhere in folders or emails
it allows security and control over information flow, who can access what, reduces overflow of information not relevant at the same time
Frequent communication is crucial in project management. Foster an environment where team members and partners feel comfortable approaching you with their questions or concerns and dedicate time to address those questions.
Project management tools like EMDESK are designed to facilitate communication. EMDESK takes care of tracking the communication, storing it, allowing others to follow it up, and informing the right people involved. For questions and concerns, people can easily start discussions within the context of work items or even start a video call. No need in figuring out who is in charge of what, finding relevant emails or sending back and forth project files.
Identify red flags and stay vigilant
Be proactive in identifying potential obstacles and adjust accordingly, rather than simply reacting after the fact. Knowing what to look for before it becomes a critical issue is crucial in successful project tracking.
Prepare contingency plans
Despite careful planning, no project is immune to unexpected changes and obstacles. As a project manager, you must be ready to adapt and have contingency plans for each project phase and milestone.
Boosting morale and maintaining focus can be achieved by celebrating milestones and appreciating well-done jobs. Each team member and partner plays a vital role in the project's success, and recognising their contributions can significantly enhance productivity.
The value of effective project tracking
The importance of effective project tracking cannot be overstated. It provides a clear and accurate picture of the project’s progress, acting as an early warning system for potential issues. It facilitates better communication within the project team and with external partners, promotes accountability, and improves efficiency.
Furthermore, it provides project managers with the data needed to make informed decisions and drive the project towards successful completion. By staying on top of activities, team members, and partners, project managers can navigate the complex project landscape with confidence, steering their projects towards timely and successful completion. Remember, a project out of sight is a project out of control. In contrast, a project tracked meticulously is a project primed for success.
In this regard, EMDESK provides a robust platform for project teams to proactively monitor and track their progress, make informed decisions, and adapt to changes promptly. All project members are timely informed, reminded about deadlines, they feel confident as they are always up to date. EMDESK increases transparency, aligns everyone being on the same track towards the project goal. It is a key player in ensuring effective project tracking, allowing projects to stay on track and goals to be achieved efficiently.
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