What was once a “nice-to-have” on the team has become a crucial asset. Today, project managers are essential facilitators of teamwork and speed.
PMs are responsible for defining, planning, and executing strategic initiatives while ensuring everything stays within budget, meets deadlines, and satisfies objectives. With dedicated project leaders, initiatives of any size are more likely to succeed.
But why leave all of this responsibility to one person?
The most successful teams have realized the importance of ensuring all team members possess project management skills so everyone has the knowledge and tools to fulfill their responsibilities. With this approach, project management becomes a core team competency.
The key to empowering your team to excel is to equip them with a sophisticated project tracker that will help them stay on track, collaborate with other team members, and increase accountability.
What is a project tracker?
A project tracker is a digital solution that enables clear oversight of team projects. It includes features to plan out initiatives, monitor progress, communicate with team members, track budgets, share documents and resources, and create new charts and reports. Advanced project trackers also allow users to automate tasks to boost speed.
Project trackers are the most essential tool in the project management toolbox. PMs depend on them to streamline information, enhance collaboration, and stay up-to-date on progress, but they aren’t the only ones who use it.
By inviting all project participants to use the project tracker, each person will automatically gain the information and resources required to do their part with optimal efficiency.
For example, if your project is to migrate to a new human resources management software, each person on the project team (including your head of HR, IT specialists, compensation managers, etc.) should actively check and update the project tracker. This ensures that each person always has access to the information they need to fulfill their individual duties and push the project forward. It also enables faster problem resolution by consolidating communication in one place.
5 consequences of not using a project tracker
One of the key benefits of using a project tracker is greater speed. In today’s rapidly evolving business landscape, we all know how quickly things change. Team success hinges on the ability of its members to plan and work fast, respond to unexpected changes with agility, and come up with creative solutions on the fly.
With better organization and communication, project trackers ensure you have the infrastructure in place to increase the pace of work.
On the other flipside, teams that don’t use a project tracker will struggle to stay on track, communicate efficiently, and meet deadlines. They face several major challenges:
1. Disorganized and siloed information
One of the key features of a project tracker is its ability to organize information and resources, regardless of which enterprise system it originates from. Project trackers ensure everyone has access to any information they may need at any time. Without a project tracker, achieving this level of accessibility is extremely difficult.
Employees today use dozens of enterprise apps to do their work, build reports, and extract data. Without a centralized place to consolidate all of this information, ensuring all project participants can view up-to-date information when they need it will be a major challenge.
2. Poor collaboration within and across teams
Effective collaboration, coordination, and communication are crucial to making sure all stakeholders stay in the loop as well as maintaining overall efficiency. Project trackers function as a central forum for all of this communication to take place.
The more people there are in a project, the harder it is to work together without the help of a project tracker. Collaboration will inevitably be stifled by communication gaps, while individual team members will become frustrated with inefficiencies.
3. Too many meetings
Without a project tracker to house information and updates, teams usually resort to in-person or online meetings to sync up. If you’ve ever been in a status update meeting, you’ve probably realized how much time they consume and how little they achieve.
Meetings dedicated to sharing progress, voicing issues, or asking questions drain productivity and disrupt the flow of work, which ultimately slow down your projects.
4. Difficulty meeting deadlines
Creating a timeline and setting milestones is an important aspect of project management. Project trackers make it easy to map out and visually track deadlines to ensure nothing falls through the cracks. Without one, managing all of the moving parts and ensuring each team member meets their respective deadlines is a major challenge.
5. Confusion tracking KPIs
Key performance indicators are metrics that project managers create at the outset of a project to gauge its success. It’s important to continuously monitor your KPIs throughout the duration of the project — not just at the end — to ensure the project is progressing in the right direction and positioned to fulfill its objectives.
Project trackers make it easy to monitor KPIs by allowing users to access data from any enterprise system and build or even automate reports within the solution. Without one, it’s easy to run into confusion or make errors when manually tracking all of this information on disparate systems
How to track projects for higher speed & greater success
Teams that do use project trackers are able to avoid the challenges outlined above while achieving several other advantages.
1. Greater autonomy and personal accountability
By encouraging all of your team members to step up their project management responsibilities and actively using a project tracker, you will begin to cultivate a culture of autonomy and accountability.
Not only does each individual have a specific role in the project, but they are also responsible for keeping the project tracker up-to-date, sharing information and progress, asking and answering questions, and participating in problem solving. That means your dedicated project manager has less to shoulder alone, while all of your team members become more engaged.
Accountability is fundamental to teamwork.
When accountability becomes a core team trait, teamwork becomes easier and faster, and outcomes improve.
2. Faster time-to-execution
As we said, speed is integral to business success. Project trackers help you quickly transform mere ideas to reality by guiding every step of the project, keeping all stakeholders informed, improving collaboration efficiency, and enabling rapid problem solving.
When all participants use the project tracker to stay up-to-date, it becomes much easier to identify bottlenecks or obstacles and leverage the power of the group to come up with the best solution. In these cases, problems are solved early and fast, and don’t cause delays later on.
3. Better project outcomes
The combined effect of better collaboration, accountability, and engagement is better project outcomes. Project trackers guide every facet of an initiative at every step of the way, so everyone involved can focus their time and energy on producing the best quality work.
How to choose the right project tracker software
When evaluating project tracker software options, look for one that contains the features that are most important to you, is intuitive to use, and won’t require time-consuming software onboarding.
The best options are tools that you can simply snap into place (like monday.com). Unlike many other project tracker solutions, monday.com integrates with all enterprise systems and apps, does not require developer heavy lifting, and easily fits into employees’ existing workflows.
Your project tracker software should make your employees’ work easier, not become a burden. Often, the addition of new tools adds confusion and complexity to employees’ workdays. By choosing a project tracker that is intuitive and clear, you will more easily achieve its time-saving benefits while creating a better employee experience.
What do the categories mean on a project tracker?
Every project has different requirements, which means the categories you’ll need on your project tracker are subject to change. With advanced project trackers like monday.com, your entire project tracker “board” is customizable to ensure your users only see the fields that are necessary.
For example, creative teams that use monday.com’s project tracker would likely create the following categories to guide the launch of a new ad campaign:
- Team member responsible
- Status (Working on it, Ready for Review, In Design, Final Edits, Done, etc.)
- Final Approval
Each category represents an aspect of the project that requires attention. They allow you to break down complex projects into clear, consumable, manageable parts, which enable you to stay organized and on schedule.
Better than an Excel tracker
Some project managers and team leaders choose to use Microsoft Excel spreadsheets to manage and track their progress. While Excel might be adequate for small, straightforward projects, complex initiatives that involve numerous stakeholders, span longer periods of time, and demand closer monitoring will be difficult to manage on Excel.
With Excel, users are required to manually build and format all of their templates themselves, which consumes lots of time and adds extra work for project managers. Moreover, if another user accidentally deletes or changes something, important information can get lost.
Project tracker software that is designed to fulfill this specific function is far better suited for fast-moving teams. Tools like monday.com allow you to customize, duplicate, and add as many features as you need, without compromising on efficiency, aesthetics, and clarity.
Take the first step with this project tracker template
Improving your approach to project management and overall team success requires a proactive approach as well as having the right tools. You can take the first step with this project tracker template to discover how having the right system allows everything else to fall into place.