As a manager, tracking the progress of your project teams is critical to ensuring that tasks are completed on time and within budget. However, it can be time-consuming to keep track of everything manually — not to mention error-prone.
While there are many methods of tracking project progress, using a project tracker is one of the most efficient ways to keep your teams on track. Project tracking software can help you manage your projects by tracking tasks, deadlines, budget and resources.
In this article, we will discuss the benefits of using a project tracker and provide tips on how to get the most out of your software.
Let’s dive in!
Project tracker: what is it?
Where once projects had to be tracked in convoluted documents and notes, there are now project trackers to do the job for you. A project tracker is a piece of software that helps you keep tabs on all the tasks related to a project, as well as the progress of each task and who is responsible for it.
This can be an incredibly helpful tool when it comes to managing a project. By having all of the information related to a project in one place, you can avoid overlap and confusion, as well as make sure that everything is on track.
Project tracking software includes the following useful features:
- Task management: track, assign, and update tasks
- Gantt charts: visualize the project timeline and dependencies
- Reporting: get real-time updates on project progress
In addition to these features, many project trackers also offer integrations with other software, such as accounting or communication tools, so that you can have a more streamlined workflow.
Benefits of using a project tracker
Before we look at how you can use a project tracker to stay on top of your tasks, let’s first look at the benefits of using one.
A project tracker:
- Can help you visualize your work. When all of your tasks are listed in front of you, it can be easier to see how everything connects and how much work you have left to do.
- Provides estimates of how long tasks will take. This can be helpful in planning your work and figuring out how much time you have to complete a project.
- Can help you stay organized. By listing all of your tasks and their associated deadlines, a project tracker can help keep you on track and avoid overlap or missed deadlines.
- Assists in tracking progress. Project trackers record when tasks are started and completed, making it easy to see which tasks have been completed and which still need to be done.
- Helps with estimating future work. If you have a history of your past projects in your project tracker, you can use that data to estimate how long new projects will take.
What project tracker should you use?
There are hundreds of options available when it comes to project tracking software, and this makes it tricky to decide which one is right for you. There are a few things you should consider when making your decision:
- The features offered by the software. Make sure the tracker has all the features you need to manage your projects.
- The price. Some trackers are free, while others have a cost associated with them.
- The user interface. Make sure the tracker is easy to use, so you can spend more time managing your projects and less time trying to learn how to use the software.
In addition to these factors, you should ask yourself the following questions before choosing a software for your business:
- How many people will need access to the tracker?
- What do you need to track?
- How complex are your projects?
- What is your budget?
- How tech-savvy are you?
Once you’ve answered these questions, you can begin to narrow down your options. Here are a few popular project trackers to get you started:
- Pivotal Tracker
Using your project tracker to stay on top of tasks
Once you’ve found a software solution, there’s more to project tracking than simply inputting tasks and hitting “start.” You need to use your tracker to its fullest potential in order to stay on top of your work. So, how should you do that?
Review your project plan regularly
A project plan is only useful if it’s kept up-to-date. Reviewing it regularly will help you identify changes that need to be made to your tasks and ensure that you’re still on track.
To review your plan, take a look at your project’s:
- Task list
Check to see if any of your tasks need to be updated based on the changes you’ve made to your project.
Assign deadlines to tasks
One of the best ways to stay on top of your work is by assigning deadlines to your tasks. This will help you keep track of how much time you have left to complete a task and ensure that it’s completed on time.
Most project tracking tools allow you to add deadlines to your tasks. If yours doesn’t, you can use a separate tool, like a calendar or spreadsheet, to track them.
Take advantage of task dependencies
Task dependencies are another great way to stay on top of your work. A task dependency is when one task can’t be started until another task is completed. For example, if you’re working on a project for your company, the task of ordering supplies can’t be started until the task of creating a budget is completed.
You can use this information to your advantage in your project tracker. When you create tasks, be sure to add dependencies as needed. This will help you to see which tasks need to be completed first in order for others to be started.
Always provide more detail rather than less
It can be tempting to minimize the amount of information you put into your task tracker, especially when you’re feeling overwhelmed. However, taking a few extra minutes to provide more detail will save you time and hassle in the long run.
For example, if you just write “Write report” as your task, you may forget what the report is about, when it’s due, or even what software you’re going to use to write it. However, if you specify “Write report on the impact of the new tax law on small businesses for John Smith” then you’ll know all of that information and won’t have to worry about it later.
Break down tasks into smaller chunks
Another way to make sure you’re not overwhelmed by your task list is to break down large tasks into smaller, more manageable chunks. This will help ensure that you’re not only completing your tasks on time, but that you’re also completing them in a timely and organized manner.
For example, if you have a task to write a report, break that down into smaller tasks such as:
- Researching your topic
- Drafting an outline
- Writing the introduction
- Writing the body of the report
- Writing the conclusion
- Proofreading and editing your work.
Assign priorities to tasks
This is key. You need to know what’s the most important and needs to be done first, so you can focus on those items and not get bogged down in less-important tasks. Generally, you’ll want to use a priority system that goes from 1 (highest) to 5 or 6 (lowest).
High priority tasks might be things that are time-sensitive or critical to the success of your project. Low priority tasks, on the other hand, are things that won’t be due for a while or that can be easily delegated to someone else.
Always stay a day or two ahead
Your project tracker should help you stay ahead of your work, not behind it. That means always having tomorrow’s tasks ready to go today. This way, if something unexpected comes up, you’re still able to stay on top of things without falling too far behind.
You don’t need to be drastic with this — stay a day or two ahead, but not much more. If you try to stay too far ahead, you’ll just end up wasting time on unnecessary tasks and losing touch with what you’re currently working on.
Make sure everyone using the software is competent in its use
This means everyone in your organization who will be inputting tasks or viewing the project tracker needs to be well-versed in how it works. Conducting training sessions and/or providing written documentation can help ensure everyone is up to speed.
Alternatively, you can write up simple, step-by-step guides for each common task (e.g., creating a new task, editing a task, viewing the tracker). Tools like Loom allow you to make instructional videos with in-built screen recording, which can be helpful for taking employees through the project tracking system.
With these simple tips, you can stay on top of your tasks and truly make the most of your project tracking software.
When completing projects, it’s important to keep track of your tasks and progress in order to stay on top of things. A project tracker can help with this by allowing you to track deadlines, assigned tasks, and progress. There are a variety of different project trackers available, so find one that works best for you and start using it today!