D) Perfecting the Details: “Project Monitoring”

“You can’t manage what you don’t measure.”

In 1996, McDonald’s spent a staggering $150 million (more than it had spent on any one product in the history of its operations) for advertising their new “grown-up and sophisticated” burger – Arch Deluxen. It was an epic failure.

The challenges: To begin with, the brand did not align its market offering with the customer’s expectations due to the lack of research and consumer-centric data points. Secondly, the brand continued to pour money and resources into  a failing project due to the lack of real-time project monitoring.

The learnings: In order to meet the business goals, manage project performance, and extract the maximum value from the data at hand, project managers need to monitor and control Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) such as:

  • Productivity = Units of Input/Units of Output
  • Cost Performance Index (CPI) = Earned Value / Actual Costs
  • Gross Profit Margin = (Total Profit-Total Costs)/100
  • Customer/Employee Satisfaction Score = (Total Survey Point Score / Total Questions) x 100
  • ROI = (Net Benefits/Costs) x 100
  • Earned Value (EV) = % of Completed Work / Budget at Completion (BAC)
  • Actual Cost (AC) = Total Costs per Time Period x Time Period
  • Schedule Variance (SV) = Budgeted Cost of Work Performed – Budgeted Cost of Work Scheduled

That said, you’ll be surprised to know that 84% of organizations with project management offices don’t have consistent KPIs to demonstrate the value of their PMO (project management offices) -– a big mistake.

In addition to this, project managers at this stage need to ensure that the execution is in direct alignment with the project plan. This can be done by:

Step 1: Monitoring project schedule and budget to see if it meets the organization’s as well as the stakeholder’s expectations:

“Rather than just “completing” the task, the team should also check if that task fulfills the business objective. Usually, teams focus only on completing the task but never analyze if the task achieves the desired business requirement for which it has been defined. Strict time management is another crucial aspect that each team member needs to adhere to, as that sets the discipline of the project.” – Sachin Deshpande, Qualitas IT Private Limited

Step 2: Tracking project progress as well as effort, while managing iterations in real-time:

“Responding to changing conditions and necessities is as important as adhering to a project road map. Being flexible while keeping your eye on the prize is key in order to succeed where standard guidelines break apart. Being empirical as opposed to theoretical in challenging moments takes one far and unleashes creativity, which is key for creative problem-solving during complex projects.” – Gabriel Fairman, Bureau Works

Step 3: Validating project scope via periodic status reports and controlling project costs:

“Scope creep is, without question, the most common reason tech development projects fail. Interestingly, even if a change in scope is properly documented, vetted, approved, and even announced, the stakeholders will often only remember that the project was not delivered on time and/or on budget. Deviations from scope must be resisted at all costs and saved for later iterations of the product(s).” – Todd Rebner, Cyleron

Step 4: Managing the quality of deliverables and streamlining communications between the team and/or stakeholders.

Step 5: Tackling unforeseen challenges and addressing issues as-and-when they arise:

“We build products for our end-users, so it’s important to prioritize the features that are most important to customers. Escalate user feedback into the product road map, even if it means changing timelines. Sometimes, our projects don’t always go as planned, but that’s all part of the process of growth. By prioritizing customer feedback, you can continuously champion the needs of your users.” – Ryan Chan, UpKeep Maintenance Management

Read MoreTop Challenges Faced by Project Managers

Step 6: Controlling procurements as well as stakeholder engagements:

“I keep an integrated project board with all projects, clients, and time frames, so we can identify crossover points where we can accomplish more in less time across projects. It has helped reduce the time we spend on projects and has enabled us to be better at hitting deadlines.” – Yenn Lei, Calendar

Expert tip: One of the best ways to stay ahead of your work in this stage is by reviewing the business case at the end of each phase. This ensures that you can make changes to the project plan and divert disasters that arise due to miscommunication or informational gaps.