These days, when going somewhere new, almost everyone will use GPS on their phone to stay on track.
You can easily confirm where you are at any moment, as well as how long it will take to get to your destination at your current pace.
A progress tracker helps you achieve the same level of oversight and control over your projects. Instead of having to email every team member, you have a real-time visual status of the project.
In this article, you’ll learn what a progress tracker is, what tools you can use to track progress, and more.
What is a progress tracker (in project management)?
In project management, a progress tracker refers to a real-time visual representation of the status of a project.
Your managers and team members will instantly know the status of different tasks and where most attention is needed.
If your workflow includes multiple, separate stages, like design, development, and approval, it should also reflect that.
This grid-view of a high-level project plan in monday.com tracks progress through those 3 stages.
Within a project management platform, progress tracking can take the following forms:
- A grid or table view with multiple stages or milestones.
- A visual timeline or Gantt chart that highlights the progress of a project.
- Dashboards and reports with charts highlighting the current status of a project.
Why is it important to track progress?
Tracking progress is essential because without accurately tracking your progress, controlling the reins of a project is almost impossible.
Not only will you not be able to forecast the trajectory of your project, but individual team members may not know their priorities.
The latest project management survey from PMI revealed that only 53% of all projects are finished on time.
Without proper tracking, you risk:
- Ineffective communication and collaboration.
- Unnecessary delays due to waiting on other deliverables.
- Missing crucial dates when you’ve reserved equipment or a location.
Any of these things can cause a domino effect that leads to a failed project or an uncontrollable timeline.
If you track the progress of your project, you can make the necessary adjustments to schedules and bookings as you go. And with access to the real-time project status, every team member will know what to work on at any time.
5 tips for better progress tracking in your company
When handling essential business projects, it’s important to always know the real state of your project. Follow these tips.
1. Choose a digital platform that visualizes your workflow.
It might be tempting to jump on the first free tool you can find to track your progress. You may even currently be using a simple to-do list tool.
While this may seem like an adequate solution, it’s not ideal.You need a digital platform to bring your whole team up to speed. From regular team members to editors, testing experts, and managers, everyone needs context to work efficiently.
For a web agency, a grid view may look something like this:
A progress bar alone wouldn’t indicate the stage of a project or deliverable.
2. Ensure adoption by enlisting advocates.
It’s not enough that executives or managers decide to use a new platform. Every member of your company or team needs to use it if you want to make a difference.
One of the best ways to improve the adoption of new software is to single out advocates on each team that can instruct their peers.
It’s essential to choose someone who likes new tech and enjoys playing a teaching role. If they aren’t interested in the software or teaching others how to use it, they’ll resent being singled out for this role.
The best approach might be to look for volunteers to learn and “play around with” the software.
3. Prioritize daily or instant updates as part of your working culture.
Progress trackers are futile if they’re not up to date. Make updating and actively using the platform part of the company culture.
With some platforms — like monday.com — you can supplement with smart integrations and automations, like creating new items from a bug report form submission. But you still need accurate self-reporting for manual tasks.
4. Connect separate boards for individual team tasks and high-level status.
Managers and executives need a clear view of the big picture. Smaller teams need a space to manage their workflow.
By connecting these boards, any changes to team boards will automatically reflect in the high-level view. That means as long as teams actively use their boards, your executives and managers will be in the loop.
5. Define milestones before you start a project.
Without clear milestones, it’s hard to know how well a project is doing, even with real-time tracking.
So set aside time during the planning phase to single out key deliverables and when you’d expect them to finish.
What is the best online progress tracker for businesses?
The best solution for tracking the progress of your projects is a digital workspace like monday.com.
Today, virtually all project management software offers some form of visual project tracking. But not all platforms are created equal.
With monday.com, you can easily choose a template that helps you create a visual representation of your project workflow.
You can freely add or remove columns, like status fields, time tracking, project files, and more.
You can also easily add and use other views, like a timeline or Gantt chart, to visualize progress.
What truly sets monday.com apart is the wide range of native integrations and powerful automations you can use to make your workflow smarter.
- Automatically update item statuses based on commits to Github.
- Create new work items based on help desk requests or submitted forms.
- Connect tables to sync progress automatically and keep everyone in the loop.
- And much more.
Why spreadsheets are yesterday’s news.
When companies first started to use computers, a VisiCalc — and later Excel — spreadsheet was the pinnacle of analytics and visualization.
But they haven’t been the best option for project tracking in years.
There are many reasons why spreadsheets are a bad idea, including:
- They’re labor-intensive to update.
- They have limited sharing and collaboration functionality.
- Visualizations are limited and hard to process.
- They’re error-prone due to usability issues. Enter a value in the wrong field, or edit a formula, and your entire setup gets messed up.
How to track your project progress with monday.com
Are you ready to retake control over your project deadlines?
We’ll show you, step-by-step, how you can better track project progress with our platform.
Start with the right template.
monday.com offers 200+ options tailored to different workflows. From software, design, and video production to construction and manufacturing, we’ve got you covered.
For example, a design agency could use our tailor-made template to manage their advanced approval workflow.
The template outlines a typical agency workflow from brief to research, concept review, full design, and interactive mockup.
From that starting point, you can easily adjust the template to your workflow with extra columns and other additions.
Add columns and stages to mirror your workflow.
Once you’ve found a template that works for you, edit it to match your workflow.
You can add a wide variety of columns, from timelines and sub-items to additional people, files, dates, or locations.
You can even add time tracking directly into the board if you want an accurate real-time impression.
All these options may seem overwhelming. So when in doubt, keep it simple.
That will maintain the at-a-glance quality of the board, which is half the point of using a digital platform.
Use assignees and estimate deadlines — with notifications — for all items.
Once you’ve set up your board, it’s time to start creating and expanding your work items. Make sure you set deadlines for essential deliverables or milestones, so you can judge the overall progress.
If you assign the item to a specific user, they’ll automatically get updates if the deadline passes.
Use integrations to update statuses automatically based on project progress.
If you use SaaS applications to do work like review code, you can use monday.com integrations to update relevant items automatically.
For example, you can create an item when a pull request is opened, or when code is pushed to the master branch.
That way, employees don’t need to report every action manually.
Create custom dashboards for an even better overview.
For an even better overview of the status of your project, you can create custom reports and dashboards.
You can use calendar, status overview, charts, time tracking, and resource management widgets to give your managers a true 30,000-foot view.
Without tracking and visualizing the current state of a project, it’s all too easy to fall behind on milestones and deadlines.
With a Work OS like monday.com, you can gain even more control over your projects and boost productivity.
Our high-level project plan template includes advanced progress tracking through stages and percentage reports.