Measuring the achievements made against the planned objectives is the method by which progress can be determined. So for this sixth in our series of Project Management Themes we’re going to look at how the good Project Manager will assess the progress they are making with regards to the project objectives they are managing.
Who measures the progress?
It would not be a good idea for the Project Manager were to be the sole arbiter as to what progress was being made in the project. In such an instance there is the risk that an important aspect could be overlooked or even unappreciated as a significant mark of progress, due to the inevitable wider overview of the project that the Project Management has to take. Therefore, progress management needs to be seen as more of a team effort involving the various team leaders/managers. They should be responsible for the objectives relating to their spheres of work/influence – and so are best placed to make the judgements, which they then report to you for your approval. As such the procedure for measuring progress should run accordingly: First there is a constant monitoring of progress compared to the project plan. Then, in the event of progress not being apparent, the plan can then be reviewed and revised accordingly to accommodate any problems or risks, with you being the person to authorize any recommended course of action to make sure that the project continues to progress. However, don’t forget that you may well have to explain any lack of progress to the project owner(s) – so it is in your own interest to regularly check with your under managers as to what progress is being made.
Fail to plan – Plan to fail.
OK, so we all know that old adage when it comes to Project Management. But failing to add tolerances to your plan could potentially set you up to fail when it comes to ensuring progress. A tolerance is a permissible variation around a desired value that can be acceptable without reference to the project owner(s). So the project objectives should have degrees of tolerance allowing you some scope in determining if progress is being made. Furthermore, some objectives can have exceptions – meaning that the measure of progress on an objective could deviate beyond even an agreed level of tolerance.