Keeping track of the multiple milestones and deliverables that comprise a large-scale tech initiative is just half the project management battle. You also have to clearly communicate that information to IT team members and stakeholders across the company. And many of those stakeholders don't want to be bothered with contingency tracking, resource allocation and other details that are vital to the IT team.
Yesterday, we introduced you to the task-tracking features in the Project Planning and Monitoring Tool, an Excel-based system from our partners at Info~Tech Research Group. Today, let's take a look at the spreadsheet's reporting capabilities and how they work in conjunction with its Word-based companion, the Project Milestones Report Template. Both of these tools are available free to IT Business Edge members here in the IT Downloads library.
The Project Planning and Monitoring Tool's Reporting tab, which you can see in the figure above, allows you to quickly view the status of your project in three dimensions:
Analysis of On-Schedule Tasks to Date: This pie chart evaluates how well your team is meeting the deadlines you laid out in the Gantt-like Task Monitoring tab. It distinguishes between late tasks and tasks that simply have not started yet, as well as regularly scheduled tasks.
Analysis of Task Completion to Date: This pie chart graphically charts out the percentage of tasks you have completed to date. It's important to note that the chart does not distinguish between very large tasks and more manageable ones; it does not tell you what percentage of overall project labor is complete; it just tells you how many task items you have closed out.
Analysis of Project Time Management: A simple timeline of project days passed and scheduled.
A useful feature of the Reporting tab is that you can set to beginning and end dates for the time window you want to quickly evaluate. The tab also provides a quick breakout of task status by owner.
When you are ready to communicate the project status to the entire team, you can use the Project Milestones Report Template as a framework for your regular updates.
The most noteworthy aspect of this template is that it is only two pages long. The first page of the report includes an executive summary of key milestones. Instructions within the template advise you to treat this section as an executive summary - again, not everyone on your distribution list is concerned with every task you are tracking, so keep it simple. The template's sample table lists five key dates around kick-off, phase release and project complete status. For most folks, that will be enough.
The template's second page, which you can see in the figure blow, simply suggests that you copy and paste the Gantt chart from the Project Planning and Monitoring Tool's Task Monitoring tab into it, for those on your distribution list who are interested in that level of detail.
You could also copy and paste info from the spreadsheet's reporting tab - it's all contingent on how much detail you want to share with the wider group.