Project monitoring isn't the same thing as project management, though the two should go hand-in-hand. Project monitoring is the stage of development where you gather data after implementing a change or releasing a new product. While monitoring involves less tangible work than other phases of project management, it's one that should never be overlooked. Proper project monitoring will allow you to capitalize on the life of your goods or services and give you quantitative and qualitative results on your campaign or product.
Four Key Stages of Project Monitoring
The stages of monitoring and evaluation include introduction, growth, maturity and decline.
- Introduction: Typically, profits during this phase in project monitoring are low, almost always explainable by development/production costs and marketing before the good or service is released. This should also be the point in the monitoring process where prices are highest. Monitoring allows the newness of the good or service to work in your favor and is an effort to recoup production costs as early as possible.
- Growth: Sales will increase at this point due to demand. For example, once a video game goes through all the expensive pre-release- and release-day offers, the set price of the game will rise or fall relative to the demand for that game. In a perfect world, this new and growing stage is all profit since you've ideally recouped your production losses during the introduction.
- Maturity: This is the plateau of your project. Depending on its success, you should see sales drop, increase or level off. The price of your good or service should adjust during the decline in sales. To use the video game example above, once the game has been out for a few months and all of the new sales and add-ons are on the market, sales will naturally level off or drop, and the price of the game, in turn, drops.
More About the Maturity Stage
At the maturity stage, you should also be conducting market research on competitors to see if there's anything else that can be done to generate more profit from the project. This is what happens, for instance, when video games release DLC (downloadable content) and they see a spike in product value. Your market research should also give you an idea of where to go next once the life cycle of this good or service is at an end.
Ending the Project Monitoring Process
At the end of the project monitoring process is the decline stage.
- Decline: During the decline, your sales will continue to fall. Decline is natural for all goods and services as the market changes, and by this point, the item or service should have generated enough cash flow to make it a success. If it hasn't, you can compare your original plan to the market research and go back to the drawing board. You should be able to access your research to see what your competitors do and look for an in to that market.
Key Elements to Consider
From the above overview, you should be able to tell what the main focus of each stage in the project monitoring process is. Your initial development, production and advertising work isn’t genuinely tested until you get to the maturity stage of the process. While maturity should be the most prolonged period in your good or service’s life, you don’t want to treat the other parts of the process flippantly.
During your production, you should always have an eye to growth and variation. When you focus on competitive analysis, you should treat your product or service in the same way you handle those of your competitors. Many companies will offload this job to another person or firm that can be more objective than the team that developed the idea.
Compare the lifespan of your project to the lifespan of its competition to figure out where you're falling short and where you're succeeding. A life cycle report should be the endgame of your project release. This report gives valuable feedback that you can use to change the way products or services are made, advertised, released and maintained.