Why is continuous monitoring of project progress essential during its execution
Understanding project monitoring
You define the project requirements.
You develop a project plan.
You decide the deadlines and budget.
You have all your resources ready.
Now, you are ready to execute the project.
But, don’t you think you need to check during the execution whether you are moving as per the plan or not? Whether you are on track or running off-track? Whether you will be able to achieve the requirements on time within the decided budget or not?
How would you know all of these when the project execution is on?
The simple answer to it is that you engage in project monitoring. With project monitoring, you can keep a tab on what is happening in the project. If anything goes wrong, you can rectify it then and there to ensure the project resumes before further delays.
So, project monitoring is important to keep the project running according to the plan. Project monitoring is a parallel process of project execution. You monitor all the metrics of the project and oversee the execution of activities as planned.
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Importance of project monitoring
Project monitoring helps you in:
Ensuring achievement of project requirements
You define the project requirements and you aim to achieve those by the end of its execution. Project monitoring helps you in making sure that you meet these requirements. It checks your current status and whether you will be able to achieve the requirements or not going by the current status.
While monitoring the project execution, you come across data and information. These serve as evidence of either something going wrong or something making good progress. Whatever the case be, based on this, you can take decisions.
If something is going wrong, you may decide to take some corrective actions and improve upon it. If something is going right, you may let it go as it is or expedite it to finish that task faster.
Making necessary changes
When you monitor the project, you can gauge whether you are going in the right direction or not. If not, you can think about the source of the issue and resolve it. You can take necessary actions to bring changes in the process or the project environment, whatever seems feasible.
Gauging team performance
While monitoring the project execution, you keep track of every task. You know who is performing what and what right or wrong they are doing. This facilitates you to monitor the performance of every individual.
You can know whether every individual is performing his or her duties. You will know where they are stuck and what obstacles they are facing. Thus, you can gauge the team performance and individual contribution to project success.
Looking for any uncertainty or risks
While monitoring the project, you come across every element of the project. You can also sense the rise of any unforeseen circumstances that may change the project dynamics. You become aware of potential risks that may affect the project outcomes.
Updating the stakeholders
With an eye on the project execution, you have all the updates on what is happening. You can update all the project stakeholders regarding project happenings. This will develop their confidence in the project team and the success of the project.
Managing project outcomes
When you monitor the project execution, you get to know where you are going wrong. Either you are taking too much time, or costs are going higher, or quality is being compromised, or resources are overburdened.
With continuous monitoring, you can avoid such negative situations. You can make improvements in the situation and balance the aspects of time, cost, quality, and resources. With the right balance, you can achieve the project outcomes within the project restrictions.
Key aspects to monitoring and control of project
There will be many things to monitor in a project. Monitoring of these aspects will help you keep the project on track and deliver the expected outcomes. The key aspects are:
While defining the project plan, you decide the timelines for the project. You mention the start and end date and thus, the duration of each task. So, whenever you are monitoring it, you have to check whether the project is running on time or not.
With monitoring, you will know what every team member is working on, was the task started on time or not, will it end at the stated time or not, why is there a delay, and many more. Thus, you can track the timelines of every task and the overall project status.
You define the project budget while preparing the project plan. While monitoring, you have to ensure that the project costs remain within this budget. So, you must monitor the cost for every small activity, resource, or any other aspect of the project.
At every instance of a cost being incurred, you must check whether this is within limits or not. Also, if your demand from suppliers increases or the project needs more resources, then it means a rise in costs. So, keep a check on all these costs to ensure you do not incur any losses by the end of the project.
The most important element that you have to monitor is requirements. You need to check whether your project execution is leading to the achievement of requirements. These are the key milestones of the project that you aimed to achieve from the very beginning.
You must monitor whether your project process is generating these outcomes or not. By tracking daily tasks, you can keep a better eye on these requirements. You will know whether your project is moving in the right or wrong direction.
Realization of these requirements means meeting the client’s expectations. It is not only about the features of the system, but you also need to check the functionality of the system. So, testing the product is essential to check for its quality. Ensure quality checks at frequent intervals to avoid delays at the last minute.
You must monitor the resources’ performance as well during the project execution. It is not only about human resources, but the space, environment for the project, materials, or any other resources necessary for the project.
You must monitor how they performed to their best and contributed to the project’s success. In the case of human resources, you can define some key metrics for gauging their performance. And, you can appraise them based on their contribution to the project.
Tips for effective project progress monitoring
Make it a collaborative effort
Team collaboration for project monitoring will add value to the process. One individual is not responsible for monitoring all aspects of the project. When everyone involved wants a successful project, why not include all of them in project monitoring?
This will allow you to have parallel monitoring in place for different aspects. The team can have discussions, share their thoughts, and get inputs from others. In the end, you can track all project elements and get a 360-degree view of the project status.
Do it consistently
Do not set the project monitoring schedule and then forget about it. Make it a consistent exercise. Only then you will know the actual status and what factors are creating obstacles in the project execution.
Sometimes, the manager monitors only a few aspects of the project and does not focus on the overall part. Instead, you must allocate people for monitoring different aspects so that you get the entire picture of the project. Be proactive and identify any problems before they affect the project negatively.
Not all elements of the project require the same amount of monitoring. Some require a more focused approach, while, for some, intermittent monitoring is enough. Identify all the project elements that need to be monitored and prioritize them.
For example, it is important to focus on time, costs, scope, and resources in project monitoring. These factors affect the project performance the most, and so, they need closer scrutiny.
You need to track whether your project deadlines are met and costs remain within the budget. You need to check if you are aligning with the scope defined in the project plan or you are moving out of scope. You must monitor resources’ performance as well to assess their contribution to the project.
Use dashboards to depict project status
When you monitor the project status, you do it to report to the senior management or stakeholders of the project. The report must be in such a format that everyone understands it easily and clearly. This is where the importance of visual format plays a role.
The best way to report a project’s status is through dashboards. Dashboards help you to show your project performance in various effective, clear, and crisp ways. You can highlight the good aspects of the project and the points where improvement is needed.
Recommend action points for the aspects where you are going wrong
Monitoring a project’s progress is not only about knowing what is going wrong. You must also suggest the improvements you can make to correct it. Suggest the actions that will lead to smooth, efficient, and timely running of the project.
Some action points may mean a change in the project plan or execution. Do that. But, before making changes, allocate a team member to manage it before deadlines and with minimum costs. Once the changes are done, monitor them as well for quality and alignment with project goals.
Use project monitoring tools
Project monitoring is not an easy task. You have to keep a track of a lot of project aspects. It is better to use the right tools that will make the process easier and better.
There are many tools available in the market. Use the ones which allow you to have a look at the project elements in different visual formats for better understanding. Use tools that you can customize based on your project type and requirements.
Tools such as Gantt charts, PERT (Project Evaluation and Review Technique), and many more are available in the market. Such monitoring tools help you to keep all stakeholders on the same page. They are aware of what is going on and you do not have to report them separately on each aspect.
Since, now you understand why project monitoring is important, make it an important part of your project execution. Understand what aspects you have to monitor and start tracking them as soon as you start the execution. Follow the best practices of project monitoring to ensure maximum success.
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FAQs About project monitoring
You can allocate team members for reporting different aspects of the project. Or, you can implement such tools of project management that generate results from data inputted by participants. You can also conduct meetings between these reporting individuals to get a summary of the status of each aspect of the project.
Do not report to stakeholders the daily project status report. But, maybe weekly or fortnightly report helps. You must keep them informed about any point that needs immediate help or decision from them. They must know what is possible to achieve in the project and what is not possible. If a big milestone is expected to be missed or delayed, stakeholders must know about it.
About the Author
(CISA, FCA, CS, DISA (ICAI), FAFP (ICAI))
Pathik is a multi-disciplinary professional with more than 22 years of experience in compliance, risk management, accounting, system audits, IT consultancy, and digital marketing. He has extensive knowledge of Anti-Money Laundering rules and regulations, and he helps companies comply with legal requirements. Pathik also helps companies generate value from their IT investments.