There are a number of project elements you should monitor to help inform your decision making. We’ve compiled such a list for you.
Regardless of which project management methodology you decide to apply for your endeavour, each one will require a degree of monitoring on behalf of the project management team.
While there is a broad agreement across different approaches in relation to monitoring of what constitutes the project management triangle – the cost, scope, schedule and quality – there is a selection of various other elements that these approaches recommend needs to be taken care of.
We have put together a list of 10 project elements that we believe should be monitored regularly in order to help you make informed decisions about your project.
Monitoring your project in terms of its progress against a plan provides a number of benefits. As well as delivering an overview of progress, progress monitoring can pick up early warning signs of task coordination issues. It also gives an indication of whether the project is likely to meet the deadlines or not. There are a variety of methods for the management of project schedules; whichever one you go with, ensure the plan is monitored habitually by you and your team in order to help them stay focused and to minimise the possibility of problems escalating.
Project management methodologies and approaches provide a range of tools and techniques which can help with budget forecasting, planning, tracking and analysis of direct and indirect costs of projects. Regular cost management is a must in terms of ensuring that required project value is gained within the budget available. If using outsourcing, for fixed price projects in particular, cost or budget monitoring will usually be conducted by your outsourcing partner.
Uncontrolled growth in the project scope is referred to as scope creep. Monitoring and controlling the boundaries of a project throughout its life cycle ensures that it is carried out in a controlled way and in accordance to the plan. If the scope of the project is changing, it will have an impact over at least one other variable, such as time or quality.
In order to monitor quality, it is recommended to not only to look at the output, but also at the factors that can influence and affect deliverables along the way. That’s why, throughout a project, quality assurance and quality control should be performed.
Monitoring and managing risks helps ensure that the project in question is delivered smoothly. Our goal is to eliminate risks completely, or to at least reduce their impact to an acceptable level. A record of risks, often referred to as a risk register, typically contains information as: the risk list, risk root causes, mitigation actions and contingency plans.
Opportunities are often overlooked in projects, however, proactively looking for ways of achieving project objectives through innovation or working in a smarter, cheaper and faster way can expose means to making our projects more successful. Opportunities can be found both within the organisation and beyond it and they can be viewed as related to mitigation of threat, or entirely independent and unrelated to risk. Opportunity analysis is performed together with risk analysis.
7. Human Resources
The availability of your project team is a rather straightforward element of a project that needs to be continually monitored. There can be nothing more disruptive to your project than the lack of hands to work, resulting from planned or unplanned absences. Headcount is one thing: beyond that, it is important to also monitor availability of your people in terms of their skills and capabilities.
8. Asset Version
Management and monitoring of various versions of project deliverables, or assets, (be it products or project documents) is necessary to avoiding mistakes and misunderstandings along the way. Version control – the simplest form configuration management can be shrunk to – is an integral part of project quality management.
Measuring productivity provides useful information about how the project team, and thus the project, is performing. There are various approaches and methods for monitoring productivity. For a software development project team, for example, productivity may be the amount of work or software features they are able to deliver in a certain amount of time.
10. Additional Measures
There are other elements of projects that you may want to monitor depending on the individual needs of your project. If you are working with an outsourced team, your outsourcing partner will most likely measure and monitor additional factors, such as team focus, time spent on tasks, time left to finish a task or the amounts of additional work. While you may not need access to these details on a daily basis, conclusions taken from such measurements may prove very useful for making crucial decisions regarding your project. You may consider to monitor communication or procurement matters, which are additional crucial aspects in PM life.
Each IT project is unique, as are the individuals working on them. What is certain, however, is that each of these projects will need a good degree of control of its aspects to ensure it’s delivered on time, on budget, to agreed scope and to agreed quality.
What does help, is having a trusted software development partner who can support you with all aspects of IT project management, from consultancy and software product design, through development to post release support and maintenance.