You’ve planned the project. You’ve assembled an able team. You’ve implemented. Now you can sit back and watch the process unfold like a time-lapsed film of a flower in bloom. Beautiful.
Yeah, maybe, if you’re lucky. But what about insects? How about watering and weeding? Is there enough sunlight?
Okay, enough with the analogies. You understand. Planning is only the beginning. Things go wrong. Things change. If you’re not able to respond quickly and adapt, then the plant dies.
Managing a project is not an abstract concept. It’s the application of careful planning and processes with an emphasis on practicality. The pragmatist isn’t going to role the dice and hope their number comes up. They’re engaged and will measure the progress of the project. It’s the only way to make sure you execute the plan effectively, meeting the objectives and goals of the project.
That’s all well and good, but how does one measure project progress? Glad you asked! No matter what industry you’re in, whatever project you’re leading, these tips on measuring your progress are sure to help your project bloom (sorry).
Get the Team Involved
Collaboration isn’t just a buzzword, it’s a proven method for innovation and, more importantly in our context, for staying on track. Your team is your most valuable resource, but they’re more than just a group of people who take orders.
Get the team involved from the get-go. There are many reasons why it’s good to plan with your team. For one, there’s the obvious buy-in it brings to the team, which is important, as an engaged team is going to help you stay on track.
Start with the planning process, but don’t taper off on seeking your team’s advice. Remember, they’re on the project’s front lines and will be privy to information first. Set up regular check-ins with team members throughout the life cycle of the project.
Begin with the End in Mind
To measure progress, you must know where you’re going. When you use your imagination to visualize your goal, you have a better chance of making it a reality. This will also help you determine what steps are necessary to reach that endpoint.
The worst thing you can do as a project progresses is to drift away from your goal as issues arise. By having the end in sight from the start you have a benchmark to measure your actions and decisions. This will keep you on track and allow you to measure progress more accurately.
No matter where you are in the project, you can apply the concept of Begin with the End in Mind. It’s a great way to reset your priorities, but it can also provide a measure each day to track the distance from where you are to where you want to go.
Tools have been helping people for millennia, and they can assist in measuring the progress of your project, especially since there are tools that have been designed to help manage projects. They’re easy to use and should be in the arsenal of anyone who is in charge of driving a project to a successful end.
For example, there’s something called a Gantt chart, which is just a fancy way of saying a timeline in which tasks are indicated as points that connect the start of the project to the end. This visual map makes it easy to see where you are in a project at a glance. Use the Gantt chart to assign tasks, determine a deadline and even link tasks that are dependent on another, so you can’t start “task B” until you finish “task A.”
That keeps teams working. You avoid having someone blocked and idle as they wait for another person to finish their dependent task. And if your tool is online, you can track the progress of the team and note as their tasks move towards completion.
Another handy tool to look for is a project dashboard. A well-made dashboard should collect all the metrics of your project in simple graphs and charts, so you can see at a glance where you are in the project. Plus, if it’s online, then it’s updating with real-time data, so you’re not stuck looking at past progress, but where the project presently stands.
Milestones are a way to indicate the beginning and the end of major phases in the project. They’re a helpful tool for scheduling a project into digestible parts, and they can help you measure the progress of the project.
Each time you achieve a project milestone you can see if you’ve reached it as planned. This is a great way to measure progress on a large scale, but you can also create milestones that work on a more gradual level to track progress.
For example, by creating milestones tailored to the tasks assigned to individuals on your team, you can track the progress of everyone. Team members are instrumental in the overall progress of the project, so by measuring their individual progress, you have a clear view of how the project is progressing.
It seems obvious, but deadlines are what keeps any project taut. Without a due date there is going to be slack. It’s unavoidable. If your team has an open-ended schedule, they’re going to use that time. There’ll be no sense of real urgency.
But deadlines aren’t just a way to keep the project on track. They can also act as a metric to measure the progress of that project. By setting a number of deadlines to meet, you have given yourself markers across the project schedule, which can be used measure whether or not you’re meeting your planned progress.
If you’re looking to find a simple and effective way to measure the progress of your project, see what the cloud-based ProjectManager.com has to offer. Its real-time dashboard gives you a clear picture of the project’s progress across many metrics, and its online Gantt chart is a great way to keep on schedule and monitor the progress of the team as they accomplish their tasks. Try it today with this free 30-day trial.