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How do you set project goals? How do you monitor the progress of goals?

Everyone in your team must be clear with the idea of project goals. Everyone from project managers to individual team members needs to be on the same page. The best way to set project goals has been mentioned below

  • Identifying Goals
  • Define S.M.A.R.T Goals
  • Create an Action Plan
  • Set Plan Into Action
  • Monitor Project Execution

Identifying Goals

Identifying goals is the first stage in the project goal-setting process. Without identifying the project goals, nothing can be determined.

We should identify what is vital. When undertaking a project, it is crucial to have all three parties, clients, managers, and d team members on the same page. Then, it is essential for everyone involved to have a discussion and identify what is to be attained during the project and what’s the end goal. As a result, everyone in the project will understand what needs to be completed and will be able to plan an effective strategy.

Define S.M.A.R.T Goals

In this step, we should define the goals you have identified. There are multiple techniques you can use, but the best method to define project goals is the SMART method. It covers all aspects required to accomplish what is required in a particular project. SMART stands for:

Specific: What do we want to achieve?

Measurable: How shall we make sure you achieve your wish?

Achievable: Can our wish be accomplished in the available resources and time?

Realistic: Is the wish convincing, can it actually be achieved?

Time-bound: In how much time do we want to complete our goal?

Create an Action Plan

Once we have set your project goals, the next step is to create an action plan. When creating an action plan, we need to think about:

  • Who should to be a part of the project?
  • What will our team be working on?
  • What will be the short-term tasks to reach the ultimate goal?
  • What will be the fixed deadlines?

Once we have the answers to all these questions, it is important to document all the data and guarantee you have a clear idea of how the defined goal will be achieved.

Set Plan into Action

After creating an action plan, we need to set the plan into action

This step usually includes:

  • Assigning tasks to individual team members
  • Setting deadlines for each task
  • Providing resources to make sure everything is implemented in time

Monitor Project Execution

The last step in the goal-setting process is checking project execution. It is vital for project managers to monitor project execution and make sure everything is on track.

This not only confirms that quality standards are met, but it also makes sure all the targets are met hassle-free, without any confusion.  

Both project execution and client relationships go hand-in-hand because once you execute planned project activities in an appropriate manner, odds of securing desired deliverables improve significantly. It lets you keep clients’ trustworthiness and loyalty for ages, which, in turn, gives your business invaluable stability.

Once the project plan is completed and approved, the project manager monitors the progress, makes sure the tasks are completed accordingly.

There are four main categories of monitoring that the project manager must focus on:

  1. Schedule
  2. Change
  3. Quality
  4. Cost

Schedule Monitoring

The project manager has a proposal of tasks and an estimated period for each. Therefore, at the end of each day, week, or month, they will be able to report on whether the project is on track or not.

To report in this way, the project manager must know from each team member:

  • Which task they are presently working on.
  • How many hours the team members have spent on this task.
  • How many hours are left to finish this task.

With this information, the project manager can compare actual and expected accomplishment to decide if expectations meet reality.

Some tasks take less time than anticipated, and some take longer. For example, a developer might tell the project manager that building a web page took three hours even though it was estimated to take ten. Similarly, a task estimated at five hours could take eight. Because of this, daily tracking is beneficial but must be viewed in the context of overall project progress.

While the project manager compares weekly accomplished tasks to the schedule, stakeholders will focus on the overall project schedule and delivered milestones. This is where a Gantt chart can be helpful – as it gives a noticeable view of where milestones lie within the project timeline calendar.

Many existing project management software tools show the percentage of task completion using a horizontal bar. This helps to view progress and displays how likely you are to complete enough tasks within schedule to achieve your major milestones.

Change Monitoring

To elude scope creep and impact on time and budget, the project manager should challenge a client’s request to modify the scope.

Questions you must ask to help manage these requests include:

  • Is it a must-have (i.e., does the requirement have to function this way), or is it more a nice-to-have, which could go into a late change project?
  • Does it affect the project’s critical path? If yes, this is a major project change.
  • Do you have the available project team resources concerning availability and skill set? If not, this can also be a foremost change to the project.

Changing the list of outcomes, deliverables, and mid-project tasks would require reviewing the project plan and acquiring new sign-offs from the decision-makers. Changes are not directly submitted for new sign-offs. Usually, a change board reflects and discusses any proposed changes before action. Therefore, you must deal with a change of scope and project tasks as an exception rather than the norm.

If a change is unavoidable, it is good practice to request the change, widely informing stakeholders formally.

The project manager will measure the number of change requests and surplus project tasks. Some issues will surface as team members learn unforeseen problems while completing tasks and building solutions. The project manager can track these as well.

Whether coming from a client’s change request or an unpredicted issue, the project manager will investigate the impact of additional tasks on the budget and time while attempting to keep milestone commitments. If it impacts the project plan, the project manager must also get the changed project planning checked and authorized by the decision-makers.

Quality Monitoring

Each deliverable should meet the client’s expectations. For example, in the case of digital products, they must be bug-free at a least possible. You must also make sure that the product does as expected (for example, it would not be acceptable for a web page to take five seconds to load).

TA team member often tests deliverables to confirm they function as expected. This person is usually a member of the quality assurance (QA) or test team, though every so often it can be the developers or the project manager who do much of the testing.

In addition, you possibly will want the clients to test if the product, feature, or service meets their needs. This is termed user acceptance testing (UAT).

Testing must not be done only at the end of the project. It is important that quality checks are done unfailingly during the executing phase.

Cost Monitoring

The project manager should also monitor the costs of the project. If there are additional costs, a project might become unbeneficial for the company. In case of a major negative impact on costs, the project manager must update the initial business case to check if it is qualitatively still valid and justifies continuing the project. Whether the business case is still effective is up to the project sponsor and decision-makers.

While it’s preferable not to incur extra costs, projects typically have money reserves to manage such circumstances. These are termed contingency reserves and management reserves. However, don’t count on these reserves unless it’s unavoidable.

Team members taking extensive time to complete tasks is one source of increased cost, but there are plenty other ways project costs can exceed budget:

  • Additional materials (e.g., hardware, servers, etc.).
  • Increased use of suppliers.
  • Large amounts of defects that have to be fixed at your expense.

Part of the reporting at each milestone should show whether or not the project is still within the assigned budget.

About Priscilla David George

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