Project Management Institute

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We Asked the Project Management Community: How Do You Monitor Progress in a Way that Can Identify and Mitigate Portential Problems?

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We asked the project management community: How do you monitor progress in a way that can identify and mitigate potential problems?

START TO FINISH

“I take a very structured approach throughout the project. For starters, you really need to have a weekly meeting for the high-level project management team to identify and resolve any major problems. Then, I conduct two separate meetings every two weeks: One is a project control meeting where we share project schedule and budget issues; the other is a system engineering meeting where we share the technical aspects. Another biweekly must is making sure the person responsible for each task sends a brief status update. I have around 30 task managers who very briefly report only on aspects that could affect performances, schedule and budget. Finally, I do a monthly overall status meeting and a quarterly risk session with each task manager.”

—Roberto Tamai, extremely large telescope program manager, European Southern Observatory, Munich, Germany

TOP PRIORITY

“The best way to achieve outstanding project progress tracking is by prioritizing the main deliverables, then developing a successful communication plan for each deliverable to ensure that everything will be met on time. I usually prioritize deliverables by their level of impact on the project's main scope and track their progress individually based on the amount of resources or work hours assigned to each. If you maintain constant and consistent communication, you reduce the risk of tasks falling behind schedule.”

—Edgar Bonilla Torres, PMP, energy and hydrocarbons project adviser, Latin American region, LG International Corp., Bogota, Colombia

Risk Anticipation

Tracking project progress is one way to identify risks that can wreak havoc on projects. But many organizations need to take a closer look at how they anticipate knowns and unknowns. Here's how often organizations use risk management practices:

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Numbers don't sum to 100 percent because of rounding.

Source: Pulse of the Profession®, PMI, 2018

AGILE TRACKING

“We use two methods to monitor progress on agile projects with autonomous teams. At Ericsson R&D, the teams will raise impediments in their daily scrum meetings. Leaders can participate in this meeting to stay up to date on the progress and the impediments. Another way to monitor is to ensure the sprints are short enough to give frequent information about the status—for instance, at the sprint demo at the end of each three-week sprint. Regardless of whether it's scrum meetings or sprint demos, the key is to make the follow-up part of the structure, not an add-on, like requesting additional reports or meetings for reporting purposes only.”

—Annika Rosendahl, PMP, project office manager, Ericsson, Gothenburg, Sweden

PROGRESS VISUALIZATION

“Digital and physical visual display boards that include a timeline are a great way to keep track of project progress on agile projects. For the digital boards, my teams create a column for tasks that are blocked, and we always discuss these tasks in a team meeting. For the physical boards, I use bright pink notes for items that are blocked. We update these continuously, including at our standup meetings twice weekly. These clear visualizations enable the whole team to easily prioritize resources to maintain progress—and proactively manage any problems.”

—Colleen White, PMP, senior project manager, OhioHealth, Columbus, Ohio, USA

ENCOURAGING HONESTY

“The first step is to create a project environment and atmosphere that encourages open, honest, timely communication. All the daily standups and status meetings in the world won't help uncover potential problems if no one is willing to speak about them.”

—Jan Schiller, PMP, partner and chief project officer, Berkshire Consulting LLC, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA

DAILY DILIGENCE

“Effective use of daily standups is a good way to identify realized and potential risks. When team members not only share what's blocking them but also take the time to envision what might stand in their way in the near future, the standup is adding real value. It is also useful to measure progress using a set of objective measures—whether that's burndown/burnup charts or using earned value management is less important than tracking consistently and accurately.”

—Kiron D. Bondale, PMI-ACP, PMI-RMP, PMP, senior consultant, World Class Productivity Inc., Toronto, Ontario, Canada

BUFFER ZONE

“When I assign team members specific deadlines for their project tasks, I always set them earlier than I actually need. That way, if something needs to be fixed, there is sufficient time to make changes. Meeting deadlines is part of the larger need for team members to clearly understand what their responsibilities are. This can be achieved by having project managers who foster strong communication and limit hostility among team members.”

—Andrea Paparello, PMP, project manager, Modis at Gucci SpA, Florence, Italy

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How do you reward team members for managing difficult tasks or completing projects—and how does that help sustain performance? Email responses to [email protected] for possible publication in a future issue.

This material has been reproduced with the permission of the copyright owner. Unauthorized reproduction of this material is strictly prohibited. For permission to reproduce this material, please contact PMI.

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