In the federal and government contracting space, it’s common for teams to monitor the progress of their projects closely – but not always so common for them to monitor projects optimally.
An organization may hold a lot of meetings to keep track of their progression, but all too often teams are watching the wrong signs and metrics. Instead of leading indicators, which might warn of problems before they happen, these teams may focus on lagging indicators, only flagging issues when it’s too late. Plus, all this monitoring is frequently aimed at ensuring that people perform tasks rather than measuring the impact of those actions.
You could say it’s the worst of two worlds: putting in a lot of effort, and seeing minimal impact in return. As a result, teams waste time, effort, and money.
Ideally, you want to have as few meetings as possible so your team can accomplish tasks without disruption. By pairing this less distracting environment with smarter and more forward-looking monitoring, you can make sure your project stays on track. But how do you achieve this?
Choosing and tracking metrics
First, it’s critical to set up a metrics-tracking framework so you can measure what you’re accomplishing. From there, not only are you able to measure performance, but also supply data to your leadership to help track progress and inform decisions.
One of the most important jobs of this data is to clearly demonstrate your project’s success. If you’re doing well but don’t have the data – the empirical evidence – to show it, then you’ve got a problem. But if, for example, you’re able to save a significant amount of money in a process improvement project, and you can show that you improved the efficiency of that process by thirty percent, your organization will improve your standing in future projects. You’ll also have valuable data on what worked for this project, so you can apply those lessons to future efforts.
But how precisely should you track progress and success? Key metrics include:
- Milestone tracking. At what pace do you reach pre-identified project milestones?
- Spending. Does project spending remain on track?
- Project delivery. Are outcomes as anticipated? Was your project on time or early, at or under budget?
- Compliance. Are any compliance issues dealt with appropriately?
Such metrics are always important, but particularly on large-scale projects with a high degree of interdependency. So how should you manage these issues and measures?
One of the most important tools for effective project monitoring is simple communication. Team members should have clearly defined protocols and objectives, defining when, where, and how they will be working. (This can be particularly critical with remote teams). Make sure to have regular, five-minute checks at least weekly, and perhaps more frequently depending on the project.
To facilitate this clear communication without getting mired in meetings, consider making use of technological tools like a shared online portal and virtual communication. This can allow you to convey and gather the information you need quickly and easily, without disrupting workflows.
As the project proceeds and completes, make sure you’re prepared to ensure that you maintain whatever successes you gain. Just because a project is over doesn’t mean you’re done monitoring. Keep an eye on your metrics, and you can drive success not only for your current projects, but for past and future efforts as well.