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What to track in project management
Monitoring scope risk and project performance is core to effective budget management. The goal is usually to complete a project on time and under budget, but even the best-laid plans can be met with unexpected setbacks and delays, which can drive up costs for labor, materials, and other resources.
Project management and bookkeeping software centralize cost information to understand how a project’s progress will impact the budget. Some of these tools provide financial forecasting features, which give project managers early indicators of budget usage so they can adjust resource allocations accordingly.
Defining and tracking project milestones creates a work cadence that is actionable and easy to measure as a project progresses. Project managers will also find project milestones useful in industries like construction that require rigid task dependencies.
For example, laying foundation and framing establishes a starting point for any construction project. If we understand each phase of building as a project milestone rather than an independent task among a pool of tasks, the project can take on a broader view that is easier to manage.
Each milestone is a sequential phase that must be completed before the next one can begin. Using construction as an example once more, these are primary project milestones to expect:
Each milestone can then be decomposed into more granular tasks to provide better visibility and control. A detailed work breakdown structure (WBS) provides a clear roadmap for each milestone and the tasks that must be completed before moving on.
Tracking work hours is not simply a matter of monitoring labor costs or ensuring contractors are paid on time. Time-related metrics like on-time deliveries and cycle time add context to a project’s progress and help proactively avoid scope creep. PM software can alert project managers about overdue tasks and bottlenecks that threaten the project timeline overall.
Project managers can also leverage historical time-tracking data to make smarter scheduling decisions and prevent unforeseen delays. If a particular type of task routinely takes longer than expected to complete, project managers can adjust future plans to account for the extra time upfront.
Why is tracking important in project management?
There are several reasons data tracking is important for project managers, but three stand out above the rest: data-informed decision-making, quality management, and process development.
The planning phase can’t account for every variable. Using data to inform decision-making will save project managers from wasting time and resources. For example, tracking time spent on each project task will give project managers a more accurate portrait of a team’s ability to hit deadlines on schedule and under budget.
It is impossible to track the quality of a product without monitoring data. Project managers have a unique position as the nerve center of every project, and tracking data across the lifetime of the project gives them an immense library of information to pull from—ensuring a product meets quality standards.
Project managers must always work to improve their processes to stay competitive. Reviewing project portfolios after a job has been completed or abandoned will give project managers the perspective that they would not have been able to. With proper KPI tracking and data management, any project can become an opportunity to improve workflow and knowledge.
Improve your project tracking with the right software
Tracking essential KPIs can ensure a high-quality final product and make it easy to spot small issues before they become big problems. You can also use those metricsto plan future projects better and propose process improvements.
The right project management software can help you track the metrics that drive success, but it can be challenging to know which solution is best. To help you narrow your choices, browse our top picks in the Project Management Software Guide.
Featured project management partners
Wrike’s top-notch workflow management software allows you to easily visualize priorities, boost collaboration, and maintain control of your projects. Bonus: you can move seamlessly between apps, without logging in or out. Wrike has more than 400+ integrations with popular platforms such as Google, Dropbox, Microsoft Office, and many more. Automation and AI features strip away time-consuming admin tasks so you can do the best work of your life.
monday.com Work OS is the project management software that helps you and your team plan, execute, and track projects and workflows in one collaborative space. Manage everything from simple to complex projects more efficiently with the help of visual boards, 200+ ready-made templates, clever no-code automations, and easy integrations. In addition, custom dashboards simplify reporting, so you can evaluate your progress and make data-driven decisions.
3 Quickbase, Inc.
Big ideas aren’t simple to execute. So we’re here to help you tackle any project, no matter how complex. We’re Quickbase.
Quickbase helps customers see, connect and control complex projects that reshape our world. Whether it’s raising a skyscraper or coordinating vaccine rollouts, the no-code software platform allows business users to custom fit solutions to the way they work – using information from across the systems they already have.