You can’t argue with the fact that work control is necessary. While we are all strong in theory, in practice tasks are more difficult. They surround us everywhere: big and small, important and unimportant, urgent and not so urgent. The success of a project or a company depends on the outcome of the tasks. Hence the first big problem of any business – unfulfilled tasks.
Sometimes the task seems to be done, and even at first glance everyone does everything right, but the result is poor. In today’s day and age, it has become vital to strive and avoid any imperfections, especially since most businesses now present themselves online for the public to interact with.
Even executors or entrepreneurs aiming to create a website for their business may end up missing important details or failing to meet deadlines if they don’t plan their time wisely. The fact is that setting and accepting a task is only half the battle. The other half is to schedule and check execution times and accept the result.
In today’s article, we’ll talk about techniques and tools that will help project managers effectively track the progress of work projects without sacrificing their own responsibilities and working time.
Project management and tracking – how difficult is it?
Project management is the process of performing the actions described in the project plan to achieve the project goals. Project management and tracking are very complicated processes. Project implementation includes:
- Performing operations to achieve the project goals (outlined in the project plan).
- Creating project deliverables.
- Selection, training, and management of the project team.
- Acquisition and use of resources (software, equipment, servers, etc.).
- Implementation of planned methods and standards.
- Risk management and implementation of risk response measures.
- Adapting approved changes to the content, plan, and environment of the project.
- Creating and managing communications (external and internal).
- Maintaining project reporting (implementation, status, progress).
- Maintaining project documentation.
Project development management and tracking is the main process of project implementation, which involves a significant amount of resources. The project needs to have a project manager appointed before the start of the project, i.e. at the project initiation stage. The main responsibilities of a project manager during the project implementation phase are:
- Integrating and coordinating activities to meet project requirements and create deliverables.
- Selecting and managing the project team (very often also training).
- Managing the resources allocated to the project.
- Comparison and analysis of variances between the current project state and the planned state.
- Dealing with risks.
Also, when managing project execution it is necessary to remember to monitor and control the work on the project. Project monitoring and control is a continuous process of observing, regulating, and analyzing the project progress, which is necessary to achieve the project goal in the terms specified in the plan. The process of monitoring and controlling project work includes:
- Comparing the current status of project work to the planned status.
- Identifying areas that require preventive action (and recording these necessary additional actions in the plan).
- Working with risks and control of risk response measures.
- Keeping the project databases – updating them for all project products.
- Providing information for reporting purposes.
- Update cost and schedule information.
- Working with changes – reviewing, approving, and incorporating additional activities into the project plan.
If the status of the project works does not correspond to the plan, there is a deviation from the plan. In this case, it is necessary to analyze what is the reason and take corrective measures. Even content marketing projects are held by project managers because there is needed control over all processes.
As you can see, project management work isn’t easy. It requires a lot of energy to do all responsibilities. Due to the fact that the manager’s work is multi-faceted, for many of them, it is very difficult to track the progress of the project. So, how to effectively track the progress of work projects?
Work progress control begins with fixing – an automated task manager will help you
The most common reason why a manager gets frustrated with employees is that he or she does not understand which tasks have been completed and which have not. Therefore, the most important thing after you have talked through the task with the performer (in person, at a meeting, a planner, on the phone), fix it in writing. If you have done everything according to the rules, but only verbally, and the employee took dictation and wrote it down in a notebook, something is bound to get lost.
It is not enough to set a task and a deadline (although this is also important), you have to control it, and therefore regularly devote enough time and attention. This is impossible without automation. You have enough time for a week or two. Then urgent tasks will appear and you will stop tracking your progress.
When there are few tasks, it’s not a problem. But what if there are more than ten employees and everyone has at least five tasks? You risk either completely letting control out of your hands or turning into a manager who does nothing but control everyone.
Forgetting his or her own duties, he or she drowns in routine. In the first situation the employees will be only happy and, most likely, will become more negligent towards their duties. In the second, excessive pressure on people will only reduce their productivity. Tasks will accumulate like a snowball, and working from under a stick will demotivate the whole team.
You need seriously think about an automated task manager if:
- Tasks take longer to complete.
- Some of the tasks get lost.
- Employees complain about the heavy workload.
- A lot of time is spent on control.
- You work remotely.
- You have employees working remotely.
Control is all about commitment
Working on a task is always a team effort. The result depends on the common efforts of all participants: the project manager, the employee as well as the assistants. It seldom happens when the project manager has correctly formulated the task, and the employee immediately accomplishes it without any questions. If the employee asks questions and the project manager brushes them off, nothing good will come of it.
Let’s imagine the situation: you clearly formulate the task, set an adequate deadline, describe the goals and the desired result. The task is set and fixed. The employee accepts it and disappears. You do not know how the task is progressing and whether it is being accomplished at all. This makes it impossible to keep track of the project’s progress.
What to do? The easiest thing is to ask how things are going. Moreover, if there are a lot of “silent” tasks, you must ask your employee. You should not wait until the subordinate reminds you of himself. If any questions arise, it is necessary to ask them right away. If the subordinate talks about any difficulties, discuss them with him, it will be good for the project.
Order in tasks – order in heads
A common situation: a person gets three or four tasks from his colleagues at the same time. If he or she concentrates on one of them, he or she risks disrupting the deadlines for the others or forgetting about them altogether. You can prioritize tasks so that the performer has a better understanding of what to do first, and what can wait. You can use the Eisenhower matrix to determine the order of execution. Strive to have more important and non-urgent tasks. Then you can work well and without rushing.
In task managers, tasks with deadlines don’t get lost in a pile of messages like in messengers. Any files and documents in the course of the task are recorded and stored in one place, so they are easy to find and use. The performer understands what and when he or she is needed, and the project manager knows how busy the performer is, and whether it makes sense to assign the task to him or her right now.
This seems obvious, but problems with the task misunderstanding arise because the performer asks few or no questions. If this is the case, ask the performer to formulate the task as he or she understands it. It is better to solve all doubts at the input, so you can control the intermediate results later.
If the task is long or extensive, it is better to use milestones. These are points where the team “checks the clock” and understands whether they are moving in the right direction. Very often during the task new ideas emerge that require the approval of the task manager. They entail adjustments to deadlines or points of effort.
Summarize the results
Controlling the work is as important as doing it. And here the main thing is to stick to the rules. Automated systems are good because they discipline employees and allow you to implement the consistency that any manager dreams of. Controls can be put on an assembly line, freeing time for strategic tasks and the head for new ideas. However, there are some things that require a willful effort before they become a habit.
- Record in writing the tasks talked about. Tasks in your head are tasks not completed in perspective.
- Make sure the employee has accepted and correctly understood the task: ask clarifying questions and answer yourself.
- Monitor intermediate outcomes to see if the task is moving in the right direction.
- Monitor the work on a regular basis. Automate workflow and reporting.