How To Monitor a Project (With Tips)

Updated March 10, 2023

During a project, it's important for a project manager to evaluate progress, measure results and track milestones to ensure the project remains within its estimated scope. Monitoring a project can help you and your team complete projects within the expected budget and timeline, ultimately maximizing your profit. Creating a clear strategy for monitoring projects can help your project stay on track. In this article, we define project monitoring, explain how to implement an effective monitoring strategy and provide some helpful tips for monitoring a project.

Related: What Is Project Coordination and How Does It Work?

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What is project monitoring?

Project monitoring is the process of overseeing and tracking a project to ensure it's completed on time and within budget. It provides project managers a comprehensive way to define the project structure by comparing the actual results of a project with its expected progress, identifying any concerns and taking necessary steps to correct those areas. Project monitoring also helps companies track priorities, quantify costs and allocate necessary resources to keep projects running smoothly.

Through monitoring, companies can stay within the scope of the project, maximizing their return on investment and delivering quality results to stakeholders. Project monitoring should be at the forefront of any planning process because it allows companies to evaluate factors that determine overall success, such as performance, duration and cost, as the project is happening. It also helps to establish accountability for all members of the team and gives project managers the opportunity to make changes to maintain the efficiency of the project.

Related: 10 Essential Components of Project Management

How to implement project monitoring

Here is a list of steps to take in order to implement an effective project monitoring strategy:

1. Create a plan or outline

It's important to begin with a plan or outline for how you can monitor the project. Identify who is responsible for monitoring the project, conducting evaluations and reporting significant findings to management and the stakeholders. Ask questions to establish how the project is successful and the best ways to reach that success. Decide on the optimal workflows and discuss the benchmarks for evaluating a team and the status of a project.

2. Set goals and expectations

For any project, it's necessary to have realistic goals in place. Clearly outline these goals to everyone on the team and make sure they understand terms for success in the project. It can benefit you to have regular check-ins or meetings with the project team to provide feedback and help them understand the long-term goals.

During this step, you should also identify the project's key performance indicators, or KPIs, which are measurable values that help a company determine how well the team is meeting the project goals. Examples of these KPIs could include net profit, overall cost or efficiency.

Read more: A Complete Guide to Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

3. Decide how to monitor project

Once you decide on the goals of a project, it's beneficial to consider its parameters, including cost, timeline and any areas that stakeholders have identified as important. Use these factors to outline project risks that may occur and develop a plan for how to manage those efficiently. During this part of the process, decide how to share progress with all the parties involved. Many project managers use status reports to summarize a project and its progress. Share these reports with management and key stakeholders on the project to keep everyone informed throughout the monitoring process.

4. Evaluate reports

Once you've compiled the status reports, it's crucial to evaluate this data in the context of the larger project. Use the data provided in the reports to measure against the KPIs set earlier in the process. This evaluation can give you a strong idea of where the project is meeting expectations, along with areas that need improvement. Then you can determine the actions needed to refine those parts of the project.

5. Make necessary improvements

Now that you've evaluated the data, it's time to make any necessary improvements to keep the project running smoothly and within budget. Decide on any appropriate steps to make sure the project stays within its expected scope. By implementing effective project monitoring, you can continue to work toward improvements well before the completion of a project. You can also use project monitoring to develop continuous goals for future projects, providing opportunities to be more productive in the future.

Related: The Importance of Project Management

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Tips for monitoring a project

Here are some helpful tips to keep in mind when monitoring a project:

Collect and track data

Decide how you're going to acquire information from your team. You can use a self-reporting system, and by setting up reminders, you can request weekly reports, similar to an assignment due date. Or, you could set up a weekly team meeting in which all team members report on their progress. Either way, be sure to have an established method of tracking data, whether it's a color-coded spreadsheet or project management software. After choosing your collection and tracking methods, use them consistently so they're a reliable resource for the duration of the project.

Provide progress updates

Make sure that team members, management and stakeholders all know the current status of the project and the work completed. If necessary, hold additional meetings to set expectations, milestones and deadlines for each part of a project. Provide regular updates so that everyone understands the current scope, budget and timeline of the project.

Manage expectations

There are many variables that can affect the outcome or direction of a project. It's important to keep these realities in mind throughout the various phases of a project and build these uncertainties into any monitoring strategy. Having a plan ready to handle issues as they arise can significantly streamline a project and keep it on track.

Maintain flexibility

Throughout the course of a project, plans may change, and that's okay. Be ready to make any necessary changes to maintain the budget and timeline of a project. Communicate new expectations to the team and reassign work as needed. Also, keep the project monitoring documents updated and inform stakeholders about any significant changes.

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