Without realistic plans and estimates, successful project execution is unlikely. The project planning process needs to accurately scope the project and develop sound estimates of the work levels required so that realistic budgets can be set.
Without these, the expectations set for project costs and delivery dates could be unattainable, and project performance is likely to disappoint. This is why project metrics are so important; they are the essential source for developing sound estimates.
Tracking project progress
This is one of the main benefits of time recording in a project environment. It can be a simple comparison of expected with achieved dates, or used to measure project performance. The key data items are:
- The man hours budget for the task.
- Actual effort spent to date.
- Estimate of effort required to complete the task.
Comparing the budget with the ‘Actuals + Estimate to completion’ highlights the difference between actual performance and that expected from the plan. This is often stated as a cost variance percentage to highlight those tasks and projects that are under performing.
Schedule variance compares the percentage progress achieved with that expected from the plan, to show the likely impact on key delivery dates.
Early warning of such variances can give sufficient time for corrective action to be taken. This is a major benefit of project tracking.
Project Baselines – see the impact of scope change
As soon as the project starts, pressure to increase its scope is likely to emerge. No matter how carefully the project has been scoped out, as the client understands the implications of what’s been agreed change requests can arise.
For project tracking to remain meaningful, the effects of each change in scope need to be reflected in the project budget – otherwise the calculated variances will lose their credibility.
To show the impact of agreed changes, snapshots of the project plans (baselines) can to be stored, as each change is agreed. Comparison reports will help to justify delays to key delivery dates, and to show the effects on other projects as resources get transferred.
As project tasks and phases are completed, the cost variance calculations can be gathered as project metrics, to show quite clearly how good the estimates and budgets really were. Where each type of project has a consistent structure, this feedback enables future estimates to be refined with confidence.
The collection and analysis of project metrics in this way enables the organization to learn from its collective experience and potentially gain real competitive advantage in future projects.
Timesheets for Project Tracking and Metrics
Innate Timesheets are easily configured to collect actual hours and estimates at the appropriate level of detail. Simple projects can be planned using Innate’s web based spreadsheet, whilst more complex ones can use Microsoft Project.
Innate Timesheets has sophisticated two way integration with Microsoft Project that enables changes in plans to be reflected in the timesheet, with the hours booked and estimates of remaining work being copied back. Reports show both Cost and Schedule variances at the required level of detail. The use of project templates ensures the consistency required for credible project metrics.
Project tracking measures project performance and produces project metrics that improve future estimates. Consider Innate Timesheets for effective project tracking.