Tracking a project can be defined as an attempt to monitor the project management process to ensure that the project is delivered according to the preset constraints or limitations, such as schedule, budget, scope, quality, etc. In essence, tracking aims to confirm or reject whether a project is in progress and how well this project accomplishes the business objectives. As a rule, management personnel and executives use a project tracking tool to get a full idea of how their projects are being performed, what achievements are already made, and what troubles need to be resolved.
Tracking in the Project Management Lifecycle
Any project passes through a number of phases in order to be started, executed and closed. Some projects are successful since they reach the final phase in their lifecycle. Other projects that are interrupted for some reason or do not address their business needs are failing. Project management intends to ensure that a project will go through all the phases of its lifecycle - from initial startup and development to successful completion and closure. And tracking helps you ensure that your project will be successful throughout the entre project management lifecycle. By tracking your project you can find out how much value is added and in what time.
Tracking shouldn't be regarded as one of the phases in the project management lifecycle, but an independent, parallel process to monitor all the phases and ensure progress towards desired outcome. This process begins right after your project is initiated. When you start to think about something that will then be a kind of project to solve your business need/goal, the tracking process comes along with you to help plan out and develop your project. When you finish your project the process lets you check whether the business need/goal is addressed by the project and what issues remain unsolved. Project tracking tool helps you monitor and follow the progress of your project throughout its entire lifecycle.
Project Progress in Terms of Tasks and Schedules
A project can be considered a kind of larger work that consists of smaller jobs and tasks. When you begin to track the progress of your project (or how much is done to date), first you need to look at tasks and schedules. Tasks tell you what amount of work has been already done. Schedules show you how much time has been spent on the project and what time remains till completion. Tasks and schedules also help you determine how many monetary resources have been consumed and whether there is a need to allocate additional funds to the project.
By using project tracking tool you can monitor the tasks and schedules of your project. For example, in CentriQS software you can open your project and use the tabs "Tasks" and "Scheduler" to see all of the tasks and schedules relating to the project. The column "Complete" shows % complete per task, and the column "Remain" points out the time remaining till task completion. Other columns (such as "Due Date", "Estimate", "Actual", "Deviation", "On Schedule", and more) will help you gain clear insight into the progress of your project and figure out whether you are on or behind schedule.
Timer for Project Time Tracking
Time is one of the key constraints for any project. Time can't be managed but it can be organized, measured and tracked in an effective manner.
Effective time tracking helps you find out what changes are made to your project and when. By knowing this information you can measure project progress against expectations and figure out whether your project moves towards the right direction.
How to measure time actually spent on a project? The simplest way is to measure time spent on each smallest activity or task and then get total of those tasks. For example, CentriQS lets use Timer to account for actual time spent on each task. When a team member begins a task, Timer can be launched to accurately count and log the minutes and hours spent on the task. Any breaks or interruptions made by the team member while the task is in progress are taken into account by the project tracking tool. The software saves all time logs per task and lets you use the Time Logs view to display time logs per team member on a single screen. You can access the Time Logs tab of your project to view the time actually spent on the project's tasks.
Performance Analytics in Project Tracking Tool
As a measure of success, performance shows the rate of accomplishment of a given project in terms of several standards, including accuracy, completeness, cost, and velocity. By measuring the performance of your project you can find out how accurate the business need/goal is met, what amount of work needs to be done, what resources are consumed, and what time remains till completion. In other words, a throughout analysis of performance data allows you to understand the current progress of your project and make a forecast of how it will be performed till completion.
Perhaps, your project's performance is best to analyze by measuring the smallest tasks that compose the project. Why is this so? Because your tasks decompose the entire work into smaller pieces that are easier to manage, observe and analyze. By measuring task performance you make a detail appraisal of project performance. For example, in CentriQS you can go to the Task Analytics view to analyze task performance in pivot tables. The project tracking tool lets you use graphs to visualize performance data on the Chart panel. The "Grand Total" row in your pivot table shows the total of tasks to measure project performance.