How to Monitor Project Progress

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Even if a team executes project activities smoothly, the need exists for the project manager to monitor the project’s progress in terms of time, costs, resources and performance. You accomplish this goal by comparing the project’s status to the approved work plan and budget. You also compare the project’s actual planning parameters to those defined in the project plan. Next, you compare project commitments, such as finances and other resources, to those referenced in the project plan. You then check the project’s actual progress over time relative to that which is expected and documented in the project plan.

Monitor the Project Budget

A project’s budget may be stated as resources, such as dollars, resource weeks, hours expended or another measure. You compare your actual use of project resources to that anticipated in the project plan. Tracking the budget is essential because before the project begins, the project manager and stakeholders agree to the dedication of particular resources to the project. Consequently, if project costs begin to exceed the budget, it may mean that without an adjustment of project scope or resources that all the project requirements won’t be achieved.

Track the Project Scope

A project scope consists of project requirements, also known as objectives. Monitoring project scope is critical because it influences all other aspects of the project including project costs, schedule and resources. For example, if you have too many resources assigned to the project, your costs will be too high. Monitoring the project’s scope will stop scope creep, which is the addition of new requirements after the project plan is approved. Scope creep means that budget, time and resources allocated to the project will be inadequate.

Watch the Project Schedule

A project manager compares a project’s work status reported in the project schedule to the planned schedule to ensure the project is progressing as expected. The project schedule may be represented as a work breakdown structure that both identifies the activities performed according to daily reports, milestone recognition and materials and other feedback, and the resources required for each project phase of a project life cycle. Using the schedule, it’s also possible to identify what milestones have been met and which activities may require additional resources if they are to be completed on time and according to budget.

Oversee the Project Resources

A project’s resources include people, work facilities, equipment, software and other project tools. The commitment of resources to a project is not just reflected in dollars and cents, but also in opportunity costs in terms of the decreased availability of resources for another project. It’s important to monitor the project’s progress in part by the availability of particular resources when needed because the lack of available resources will affect the project schedule, its scope and the quality of the project’s end product.