How to Monitor Daily Progress as a Project Manager

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People love to monitor everything, from their weight to their finances, so it’s only natural that managers want to monitor daily progress on their projects. Jennifer Bridges, PMP, shows you how.

Related: How Project Managers Use Real-Time Dashboards to Monitor Progress

tips for daily monitoring of projects

In Review – How to Monitor Daily Progress as a Project Manager

Jennifer said she’s surprised how upset some people get when they’re asked how their project plan is progressing. Everyone is always monitoring everything, so why not a project?

But what is progress, really? It’s moving towards a destination. There’s a beginning, a middle and an end. In project terms, there’s yesterday, or the historical. There’s today, which is the now in real-time. Then there’s tomorrow, or the future, what we call projections.

When we monitor progress what we’re doing is asking, “Where are we now and where should we be?” In other words, what’s our actual progress compared to the project objectives we had stated in our plans?

Looking at these two points, we’re dealing with a few variances:

  • Time, which refers to the schedule
  • Cost, which refers to the budget
  • Scope, which refers to deliverables, products and services
  • Resources, which refers to the people, tools and materials used in the project

Knowing where the project stands in terms of these metrics is key for monitoring progress, and whether you’re on time, behind or ahead of schedule.

How to Monitor Your Project Daily

Jennifer suggested this three-step course of action:

  1. Set Your Intervals: This means having a time each day in which you go over the reports. Pick a time that works best for you. Morning might be best, but noon or even at night after the work day is done could work. The one prerequisite is that the data is in real time, so it’s accurate and current.
  2. Collect Your Data: To feed your reports, you need data. The reports will only be as good as the data you collect. Luckily, there are many methods to get good data, from software tools to more visual means, such as maps, monitors, tractors, scales, etc. You can conduct surveys, polls or interviews, too. Learn how to use data to be a better manager.
  3. Evaluate & Adjust: You have a time and you have data, but what do you do with it? You evaluate it against the variances and determine where you are in the project. Then you adjust, renegotiate or rebaseline to get yourself where you want to be, if you’re not there.

Pro-Tip: Another thing you can use as a metric to monitor you project’s daily progress is its critical path. That is the longest duration path through a network diagram to figure out what the shortest time to complete the project is. It can help you prioritize, where to focus your efforts and where you can cut the schedule.

Thanks for watching!

Transcription

Today, we’re talking about how to monitor daily progress as a project manager. Well, I find it interesting that sometimes people can almost get offended or become defensive if you ask, “Where are you on the project?”

In truth, in life, we’re always monitoring everything. We monitor our weight. We monitor our diet. We monitor our finances. Nowadays people can monitor their children. Well, so let’s look at why it’s so important to monitor on your projects.

Well, first of all, when we talk about progress, we’re talking about forward movement towards a destination. And on a project we have a start date and an end date. So we want to know when we started and when we stop.

So there are always people asking on the team, you know, “Are we progressing? Are we there yet?” And sometimes people like to have an indication, “Yes we are advancing.” So that’s good news.

So when we talk about progress, we’re looking at different time intervals. Sometimes we look at what did we do yesterday? So we’re looking at the past.

Sometimes we want to know, what are we doing today? Like right now? And then sometimes we’re concerned about tomorrow, we want to know about future projections.

And when we look at this, all of this is some form of data. It could be historical, it could be real time, or it could again be projections.

So now let’s look at…again, when we’re looking at progress, we’re looking at where are we now and where should we be?

So if we look at where are we now, we’re looking at the actual progress versus the expected progress, our goals, and many times our contractual expectations.

So when we look at the difference between these two, we’re talking about some form of variance.

And here are the things that we want to monitor on a project. So we want to look at time. Where are we in relation to the schedule? Are we ahead of schedule? Are we behind schedule?

We also want to look at the cost, specifically our budget. Are we meeting our budget? Are we exceeding our budget? We want to know about the money.

So we also want to look at scope because scope begins to be the deliverables we’re producing, the products or maybe the services.

And then we also want to look at people, do we have enough people? Do we have too many people? How do we need to compensate?

So let’s look at how we monitor and specifically we want to look at daily. So first of all, you set your intervals of when you want to monitor.

For instance, if you’re monitoring daily, you may want to look at specific reports or projections in the morning, maybe at noon or even at night. And ideally, on a project you’re looking at things real time.

So then you want to collect your data. So when we talk about collecting data, we want to look at what methods are we collecting that data.

So today the great thing is you have all kinds of project management software or tools we can look at, which makes it super simple. Then we can also look at different visuals.

Today we have all kinds of interactive methods like interactive maps, maybe interactive monitors or trackers or scales. We can also survey people on the team. We can also conduct polls and we can also pull different reports.

And once we collect our data, now what do we do with it? We can use that data to evaluate, again, where we are. And based upon the variance of where we are, we can look to adjust.

Again, looking at are we ahead of schedule, are we behind schedule and then knowing how to adjust to get back on track. And depending upon where we are we might need to renegotiate something on the project. And if so, we can also rebaseline.

So with that, if you need a tool that can help you with your daily progress, then sign up for our software now at ProjectManager.com.

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