This template provides formats and example project data illustrating effective ways to track project progress --- by explicitly tracking drafts, reviews, and completion of multiple very small deliverables. Embedded Excel files provide both data charts for capturing progress, and graphs automatically generated off the data. The examples include tracking detailed design activities and design review cycles for multiple subsystem or component designs; tracking completion of multiple small deliverables, in this case art or graphics assets on a multi-media project; tracking execution of test cases and test results; and tracking defect discovery and correction rates during a testing phase. These approaches are especially valuable for when a team includes an outside partner or the team members are distributed. Tracking such "visible" deliverables is a much more effective and accurate way to assess progress than highly-subjective status such as "we're 50% complete on this task..."
What this is
Formats in Excel for tracking weekly project progress and status on key deliverables and small-duration activities during various phases of a project. Includes example data. Both data entry tables and automatically generated bar charts and line graphs are included. This Word file includes embedded Excel files, along with pictures of all the data in those Excel files, and explanations of their content.
Why it's useful
The tables and graphs contained in the Excel formats are especially useful for communication of true project status. It's so easy to say "we're making fine progress" if work is getting done. In tracking schedule tasks, reporting "percent complete" on a multi-week or multi-month task can be highly subjective and is not necessarily a reliable gauge of status. For adequately project control, it's critical to make sure true progress is understood.
Having planned vs. actual numbers for short duration tasks recorded frequently and graphed next to each other may tell a very different tale. When working with outside partners, where the work is happening "out of sight," such visibility is especially important for gauging their true progress accurately.
This data often reveals important trends such as true completion rates (i.e., are the resources actually able to complete a set of tasks as quickly as the plan had assumed?). Those trends can provide a clear understanding of what resources or productivity change might be needed to recover a schedule in trouble.
One side benefit is that these formats can seem much more meaningful and useful to project team members than a more "unapproachable" schedule in a program such as Microsoft Project. Use of these formats in appropriate cases can actually help a team's acceptance of project management!
How to use it
A project manager or functional manager should consider these two areas where "visible deliverables" tracking could be useful and use the appropriate templates in this file accordingly:
NOTE: The included Excel files can easily be modified to add capture and charting of other combinations of data, so that you can break down your tracking and summarize your progress in whatever way is most useful.
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