Project Monitoring Guide: Process, Types, Tools & Techniques

Project management involves more than just assigning and reviewing assigned tasks. It also includes workload management, risk management, resource allocation, project reporting, and more.

Project monitoring is another essential project management phase, helping to measure project performance at each stage of a project’s life cycle.

In this article, we’ll explore the role of project monitoring and explain how it aids project managers and key stakeholders in tracking project milestones.

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What is project monitoring?

Project monitoring is an ongoing process that helps track progress, control processes, observe, and measure the project’s performance and progress against its previously defined objectives and plans.

For project monitoring and control (aka project controlling) purposes, project managers must collect and analyze data and project-related details to ensure that the project stays on course, follows timelines, and meets its goals.

The real-time insights project monitoring tools provide are crucial for project stakeholders and managers to make proper decisions during the entire project’s life cycle.

project monitoring

Importance and benefits of project monitoring

Efficient resource optimization

By continuously monitoring and controlling how resources are allocated and used, a project monitoring process helps optimize the allocation of manpower, finances, and materials.

It helps a project manager to assign tasks and align the project schedule according to the workload and timelines.

Identification of issues

Project monitoring helps detect potential issues, risks, or deviations from the project plan, sometimes very early in the game, helping avoid more significant problems. 

By continuously monitoring the project’s progress, a project manager can avoid scope creep and going over budget.

Efficient communication

Regular project monitoring and control, as well as project reports at different stages of a project’s execution phase, promote effective communication with team members and stakeholders involved in the project. It provides up-to-date information, building trust and promoting confidence in the project’s progress.

Quality control

Proper project monitoring techniques ensure that project deliverables meet quality standards and help project managers address quality issues as soon as they arise.

More flexibility and adaptability

Projects are dynamic, and external factors may impact multiple projects along their journey. Project monitoring streamlines project planning and allows teams to adapt to scope or market conditions changes, ensuring that the project aligns with evolving circumstances.

Performance evaluation at every step

Project monitoring facilitates the evaluation of team and individual performance.

Types of project monitoring

1. Process monitoring

Process monitoring, or activity monitoring, mainly aims to track resource utilization and inputs while understanding how outputs and results are delivered.

2. Beneficiary monitoring

Focused on tracking the beneficiaries related to the project. It may also include complaints and satisfaction related to this project.

3. Compliance monitoring

Compliance monitoring checks if the project complies with the grants, local laws, contracts, ethical standards, and overall compliance with the entire project plan.

4. Financial monitoring 

As its name suggests, this monitoring tool is used to track the financial efficiency of the project. Additionally, it analyzes the expenditure of the allocated project budget.

5. Result monitoring

It helps to determine and evaluate whether the project is on the right path to achieving the expected result. It also helps collect data regarding the project’s overall impact and effects.

What is the role of project monitoring in project management? 

Project monitoring plays a pivotal role in the broader context of project management, especially by helping identify and mitigate risks since it provides insights into potential challenges.

The data gathered from monitoring supports project managers in decision-making processes and identifying areas requiring improvement.

Project monitoring and control also serve as a tool for measuring project performance against key performance indicators (KPIs), ensuring alignment with organizational goals, and maintaining adaptability and good communication.

Read also: How to do a project profitability analysis

What are the key components of an effective project monitoring process?

Establishing project milestones and objectives

  • Defining SMART goals – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. These goals provide a clear roadmap for the project team and measure success.
  • Aligning project goals with the organization – establish a strong connection between project goals and broader organizational objectives to ensure the successful execution of the project. This alignment ensures that the project contributes meaningfully to the organization.

Developing a project monitoring plan

  • Comprehensive monitoring plan – Start the planning phase by outlining a detailed project monitoring plan with specific steps, activities, and timelines. This plan serves as a roadmap for project monitoring and aids project managers with the controlling process.
  • Identifying KPIs – Select relevant KPIs for the project objectives. These measurable indicators help evaluate the actual progress and the project’s success.

Read also: How to create a project timeline

Data collection and analysis

  • Methods and tools – Implement methods and project monitoring tools to review project status. This may include, for example, regular status meetings, purchasing project management software, and running surveys to capture data.
  • Analyzing data – Employ the necessary analytical processes to interpret collected data. This analysis not only evaluates performance against KPIs but also identifies trends, potential risks, and areas for improvement.

Reporting and communication

  • Clear and concise project management reports – Develop project monitoring reports that are clear, concise, and tailored to the needs of the stakeholders.
  • Robust communication – Maintain effective communication channels for sharing project performance information with stakeholders. Open communication fosters transparency and trust among stakeholders and team members.

These components collectively form the foundation of an effective project monitoring system.

How to create a project monitoring plan

Creating a project management monitoring and control plan is essential. It guarantees your project stays on track and meets its objectives.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you develop an effective project monitoring plan:

  1. Define the project’s goals

How are you defining the project’s success? Clearly articulate the project’s goals and deliverables. Picture what success looks like for your project so that you can establish a baseline for the monitoring and control process.

  1. Identify the key performance indicators (KPIs)

Determine the KPIs that align with the project’s goals. These could include time, cost, quality, scope creep, and other relevant factors.

  1. Establish metrics

After identifying all the tasks and KPIs, set metrics for each point. This serves as a reference point for measuring progress and variations in general throughout the project life cycle.

  1. Define monitoring methods and tools

Choose the methods and tools for monitoring the project’s progress. This may include methods like regular status meetings and progress project reports, and tools, including a time tracking app or your project management software.

  1. Determine the frequency of monitoring and control

Usually, project managers monitor their projects on a daily basis. However, a standardised control phase will may vary based on project timelines, complexity, and the criticality of certain tasks. Regular, monitoring and control phase ensures that issues are identified promptly.

  1. Distribute responsibilities

A project manager would usually assign roles and responsibilities for the entire project monitoring process. Designate individuals or teams responsible for tracking specific KPIs and reporting on progress.

  1. Integrate risk management

When you implement a project monitoring process, integrate risk management into the monitoring plan. Identify potential risks, develop mitigation strategies, and establish a process for monitoring and addressing risks as they arise.

  1. Define a process to handle changes 

Define a project controlling process for managing changes to the project scope, schedule, or budget. Effective change control is crucial for minimizing project risks.

  1. Implement space for continuous improvement

Create mechanisms for capturing lessons learned throughout the project. Regularly review monitoring and controlling data to identify areas for improvement.

  1. Review and update the plan as needed

A project monitoring plan is a dynamic document. Regularly review and update the plan as the project progresses. 

project monitoring process

Best practices for project monitoring and controlling

Regular monitoring and evaluation

  •  Importance of continuous monitoring throughout the project lifecycle

It’s crucial to highlight the significance of ongoing monitoring throughout the project lifecycle. Regular oversight ensures the identification of problems and facilitates proactive decision-making.

  • Conducting periodic evaluations for corrective actions

Periodic evaluations help to assess project performance. Use evaluation findings to optimize the project’s trajectory. Periodically review and update the monitoring plan based on project progress and changes in scope. 

Real-time tracking and reporting

  • Utilizing project management software for real-time tracking

Take preference for a tool with real-time tracking features and implement project management tools that offer these capabilities. These tools provide instant visibility into project status, enabling proactive decision-making.

  • Automated reporting for efficient communication

Define clear reporting protocols, including the frequency and format of project monitoring reports. Reports should be concise, highlighting key metrics and explaining any deviations from the original plan.

  • Implementing risk management strategies

Integrate risk management into the monitoring process. Identify potential risks, and develop mitigation plans.

Stakeholder engagement

  • Involving stakeholders in project monitoring activities

Engage stakeholders actively in project monitoring activities. Their involvement ensures alignment with the project’s goals.

  • Addressing concerns and feedback from stakeholders

Foster transparent communication within the project team and with stakeholders. Regularly share project status updates, challenges, and successes to maintain a collaborative environment.

project monitoring techniques

Project monitoring techniques

Monitoring a project involves employing various techniques. These are the most commonly used.

Gantt Charts

Charts that visually depict project schedules, all the tasks, and dependencies. They serve as effective tools for tracking project tasks and progress, identifying blockages, and managing timelines.

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

Measurable metrics are utilized to gauge project performance objectively. They offer quantitative data for evaluating progress and pinpointing areas that require improvement.

Earned Value Management (EVM)

Integrates project costs, project schedule,, and performance data to assess project progress in one place. By comparing planned and actual performance, it identifies forecasts for project outcomes.

Risk Assessment Matrix

Risk Assessment Matrix aids in the identification, prioritization, and ongoing monitoring of project risks. These matrices assign probabilities and impacts to risks, enabling proactive risk management.

Milestone Tracking

Enables project managers to monitor progress and ensure completion in time of key deliverables. This technique ensures that the project stays on its pre-defined path.

Read also: Examples of milestones in project management

Critical Path Method (CPM)

It breaks down the project into different progress phases using charts. The critical path is the longest sequence of tasks that need to be completed before the project concludes.

Project monitoring tools

Project monitoring software and tools are crucial in keeping projects on track and ensuring efficient collaboration. Here’s an overview of some popular options, comparing their features.

Timeular: Track time in the most effortless, smart and secure way

Timeular is a project time tracker that allows you to easily monitor project progress, identify bottlenecks, allocate resources efficiently, and ensure your projects stay on schedule and within budget.

  • Automatic time tracking: Fill in your time sheets automatically based on app usage, visited websites and scheduled calendar events.
  • Billable hours tracking: Automatically calculate billable hours based on hourly rates and hours worked.
  • Productivity tracker: Track the productivity of your team by tracking how much is dedicated to each task. Identify time-wasting activities and move resources to revenue-generating tasks.
  • One-click time reports: Create your timesheets with a single click!
  • Integrations with top project management tools, i.e. Jira, Asana, ClickUp, and more.
  • Optional time tracker hardware to foster a time tracking habit. A physical Tracker is an 8-sided dice. You can assign over 1,000 activities to it and flip it to track your activity’s time. Personalize it with stickers and pens and track time with a simple flip.
  • Budget monitoring: Monitor your project budgets automatically and receive alerts when you are approaching a limit.

Track your project’s progress in the most effortless way

“My time spent on revenue-generating projects has increased by ~10% each week and time in meetings decreased by about 1-2 meeting per week.” – Angela Morisette, SVP Business Operations at Scratch Financial

Trello

Trello is a widely used visual collaboration tool that organizes projects into boards. It is one of the best work prioritization tools that uses cards and boards to track project tasks and progress.

  • Intuitive Kanban-style interface
  • Customizable boards and lists
  • Task assignment and due dates
  • Integration with various third-party apps

Asana

Asana is a project management tool that helps teams organize and track work. It offers features for task management, collaboration, and project tracking.

  • Task assignments and due dates
  • Project timelines and calendars
  • Communication and collaboration tools
  • Integration with other productivity apps
  • Suitable for large and small teams

Read also: How to track time in Asana

Jira

Jira is a powerful project management and issue-tracking tool widely used in software development projects.

  • Agile project management
  • Customizable workflows
  • Advanced reporting and analytics
  • Integration with development tools

Related content: Jira time tracking

Monday.com

Monday.com is a platform that powers teams to run projects and workflows with confidence.

  • Customizable boards and views
  • Work automation
  • Collaboration and communication tools
  • Integration with popular apps and services

TIP: Discover the best Monday.com time tracker

ClickUp

ClickUp is a full project management software platform offering a wide range of tasks management, collaboration, and productivity features.

  • Customizable workspaces and views
  • Task management with due dates and priorities
  • Intuitive reporting
  • Integrations with various third-party apps

Read also: Time tracking in ClickUp

Summary

Each project monitoring tool has its unique features or benefits. Choosing the right tool depends on the project’s specific needs, the size of the team, and the preferred project management methodologies.

When selecting the most suitable project monitoring software, it’s essential to consider factors such as ease of use or integration capabilities.

Conclusion

Effective project monitoring, a critical aspect of project execution, is essential for project success. Project managers play a key role in this, especially during the monitoring and control phase, where continuous evaluation is crucial. Project monitoring refers to the ongoing commitment of vigilance, adaptability, and technology utilization to anticipate issues and address problems promptly.

Technology emerges as a vital “ingredient” for successful project management in real-life scenarios. It ensures projects meet goals and adapt to changing conditions, preventing failures, delays, and budget overruns.

To enhance project monitoring, organizations and managers must embrace technology for real-time insights, employing time-tracking tools. Transparent communication among stakeholders and team members fosters active engagement throughout the project.

Project monitoring is not merely a task but a mindset, continually seeking improvement opportunities. This mindset ensures projects navigate challenges, adapt to changes, and ultimately succeed in fulfilling their objectives.

FAQ

How can project monitoring and controlling help in stakeholder engagement?

Project monitoring enhances stakeholder engagement by allowing for transparency and collaboration. It enables real-time communication, addressing stakeholder concerns as quickly as possible and facilitating their active involvement in the project’s dynamics.

How do real-time tracking and reporting benefit project monitoring?

Time tracking in real-time and reporting significantly contribute to successful project execution, monitoring, and controlling by providing immediate insights into the project’s dynamics.

With up-to-the-minute data, decision-makers such as project managers can make informed decisions, assign resources best, and proactively address challenges.

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