5 Phases of a Project: Monitoring
Projects are susceptible to failure for any number of reasons – poor visibility, an unrealistic schedule, stretched resources, an absent project sponsor and so on. Sometimes, the cause of failure is beyond the control of the team, for example, an unexpected departure within the team. However, by monitoring project progress consistently and adjusting the plan as needed, teams can address risks quickly and keep the project on track.
Keep your project on track with reports and metrics in the free SharePoint Project Management Template
Monitoring is the fourth phase of the PMBOK’s five phases of project management – Initiating, Planning, Executing, Monitoring, and Closing. The monitoring phase should run concurrently with project execution, providing visibility and actionable insight into the project.
In this article, I’ll explore the importance of Monitoring and common techniques used in this project phase. I’ll also use tips included in the Collaborative Project Management Handbook to help you track and re-plan your project in SharePoint.
Project Phase Four: Monitoring
Project monitoring helps to track project performance and progression 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 prevent scope creep or the impact of small changes to the original project plan.
As the project manager, you must ensure the project includes the work required, and only the work required, to deliver the project successfully.
Techniques and tools for project monitoring include status reports, real-time dashboards, scoreboards, Earned Value Management, and milestone tracking.
Project Monitoring Methods and Techniques
Project monitoring begins during the planning phase of your project. During this phase, you should decide what project success will look like and how to measure this goal using key performance indicators (KPIs).
Consult with your team and the project sponsor on your definition of success. This can refer to delivering the project on time, within budget, or at an agreed standard. Document your definition in the project charter, and make sure your team understands the purpose of the project before any work starts.
Next, define two to five KPIs to track and measure your success. 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 customer satisfaction, planned hours of work v actual hours, and overdue tasks.
Picking the KPIs is the first part of the puzzle; you also need to decide how to track the KPIs in a transparent, actionable way.
BrightWork, a project management solution on SharePoint, provides multiple project and portfolio reports, metric tiles, and real-time dashboards that are easy to configure to your requirements.
Below are some examples to help you get started.
Metrics tiles in a project site
Scorecards in a project site
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 Track and Re-Plan Your Project
As explained in Collaborative Project Management: A Handbook, projects never go to plan so you must be ready to adjust as needed. Try this simple three-step approach:
1. Check and Understand Project Progress
Before you can re-plan the project, you must ascertain the current status of the work. If you are using a project management site, check the various reports, task trackers, and scorecards outlined above.
It’s also helpful to get the team together for a ‘project health-check’ meeting to drill into current work, upcoming tasks, and issues. Use this meeting to recognize the delivery of important milestones and celebrate success.
2. Find and Manage Exceptions
Next, look for exceptions such as issues, risks, and change requests. You need to resolve open issues to remove roadblocks and develop a risk mitigation plan. You may find taking these steps requires a change to the project.
Spend some time reviewing change requests before proceeding. Remember – changes can lead to scope creep so approach with caution!
3. Re-Plan the Project
At this point, you have identified if and how to re-plan the project. Roll-out the new plan using the following steps:
- Update relevant project documentation, including the project charter.
- Share the new plan with stakeholders.
- Re-assign work as needed. Communicate new assignments to the relevant team members using automated reminders and the ‘My Work’ report.
- Tailor your project site with updated reports and dashboards as required.
This guidance, and content relating to the five phases of project management, is included in the Task List and wiki of the latest release of our free SharePoint Project Template – making project management even easier!