How to Monitor Your Project with SharePoint
Projects can fail for any number of reasons – poor visibility, an unrealistic schedule, stretched resources, an absent project sponsor, and so on.
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Sometimes, the cause of failure is beyond the control of the team, for example, an unexpected departure within the team.
However, by monitoring progress and adjusting the plan as needed, teams can react quickly and keep the project on track.
Monitoring is the fourth phase of the PMBOK’s five phases of project management – Initiating, Planning, Executing, Monitoring, and Closing.
The monitoring phase runs concurrently with project execution, providing visibility and actionable insight into the project.
In this article, I’ll explore the importance of Monitoring and how to monitor your project with SharePoint.
We’ll also explore a three-step process to track and re-plan your project.
Project Phase Four: Monitoring
Project monitoring is focused on tracking project performance and progress using key performance indicators (KPIs) agreed during project planning.
Core to this phase is identifying when a change is needed, what the change entails, and how to implement the change with minimum impact on the direction of the project.
This careful, informed consideration will help to prevent scope creep or the impact of small changes to the original project plan.
Project monitoring also includes:
- Managing risks.
- Measuring deliverables against the original requirements.
- Tracking the project budget.
- Assessing progress against key milestones.
Techniques and tools for project monitoring include status reports, real-time dashboards, scoreboards, and Earned Value Management.
Project Monitoring and KPIs
Project monitoring actually begins during the planning phase of your project.
During planning, work with stakeholders and the team to decide what project success will look like. This can refer to delivering the project on time, within budget, or at an agreed standard.
Document this definition in the project charter, and make sure your team understands the objectives of the project before any work starts.
Next, define two to five KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) to track progress to this goal. Suggestions include:
- Cycle time – the time needed to complete a task.
- Number of adjustments to the schedule – how often the project schedule has been modified.
- Budget Variance – how much the actual budget varies from the project budget?
- Number of errors – the number of times you need to redo work.
Additionally, you can track planned hours of work v actual hours, and overdue tasks.
During project execution, actual performance is measured against desired performance (KPIs).
Project monitoring may seem like a time-consuming process, but with the right tool, you can easily track progress without too much administration.
Keep reading to find out more about project monitoring with SharePoint.
Monitoring Project KPIs in SharePoint
BrightWork streamlines project monitoring on SharePoint with reports, timelines, charts, metric tiles, and dashboards.
In a BrightWork project site, real-time dashboards are automatically updated as other reports in the site are updated. If your team are updating their work regularly, monitoring progress is quite straightforward!
These reports also roll-up to portfolio dashboards for cross-project tracking. This increases visibility for senior managers without any additional reporting or effort.
In the below video, BrightWork Customer Success Architect, Scott Footlik explains how to use metric tiles and roll-up reports in BrightWork.
Additional project reports in BrightWork include Status Reports, Work, Tasks, Issues, and Risks.
Senior managers can monitor projects at the portfolio level using two templates: Project Office and Portfolio Reporting.
The Project Office template displays real-time data from all projects in the hierarchy in a single dashboard. As reports are updated in individual project sites, this data roll-ups to the relevant dashboards.
The Portfolio Reporting template allows senior managers to create a personalized reporting dashboard with any combination of projects within the hierarchy.
Reports can be shared via email on a daily, weekly, or monthly scheduled, or as requested.
SharePoint workflows can simplify project monitoring even further. Using SharePoint Designer or Nintex, you can create workflows to send a notification if a key milestone is missed or the number of reported risks is too high.
At this point, you may be wondering how to use this data and information to improve project execution.
Read on to learn more about tracking and re-planning your project.
3 Ways to Track and Re-Plan Your Project
As explained in Collaborative Project Management: A Handbook, projects never go to plan so be ready to adjust as needed.
Try this simple three-step approach.
1. Check and Understand Project Progress
Before re-planning, use the reports above to check the current status of the work.
It’s also helpful to get the team together for a ‘project health-check’ to drill into current work, upcoming tasks, and issues.
2. Find and Manage Exceptions
Next, look for exceptions such as issues, risks, and change requests.
These elements can quickly become roadblocks later on so you’ll need to include a plan to resolve any outstanding items.
You may find this requires a change to the project, for example, moving the deadline by a few days.
3. Re-Plan the Project
At this point, you have identified if and why the project is veering from the original plan.
The next step is to re-plan based on this information. You’ll need to:
- Update current tasks as needed, for example, a new owner or due date.
- Create and assign new tasks.
- Adjust the timeline.
- Update relevant project documentation, including the project charter.
Share the new plan with stakeholders and your team quickly to keep work moving forward.
Remember to provide context for these changes – what, why, and how.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in August 2018 and has been updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.
In her free time, she enjoys a challenging session at the gym, tucking into a good book, and walking the beautiful Galway coastline with her dog.