How many times have you been a situation where the project goals, scope and budget have been approved, and everyone rushes into project delivery. Then, before you know it, you’re pulling all-nighters and dragging in extra resources to try to hit a deadline that’s no longer realistic?
So many project leaders have been there. Ignoring warning signs and pressing on in the hope everything will turn out alright in the end. And sometimes, we don’t see the warning signs at all until the project has failed.
According to the PMI, 31% of projects fail to meet original business goals, rising to 64% in less mature companies. But an effective system to continually deliver, track, monitor and measure projects, and link projects to business outcomes can mean the difference between success and failure.
Sharktower was built by project delivery experts who understand the key metrics you need. You don’t have to consolidate project data from multiple systems because it’s all right there in the Delivery Map, and you don’t need to create reports because they’re available in real-time to the whole business.
Let’s take a look at how Sharktower compares to traditional project planning, management and measurement approaches.
Planning and running a project
To run, monitor and measure projects effectively, you need the basics in place from day one. That means making sure all tasks have owners, start and end dates, are linked to relevant dependencies and activities, and have key issues and risks identified.
In Sharktower, you can open a task, story, decision, risk or issue from anywhere in the Delivery Map or Kanban and change the status, ask for updates and decisions, and invite people to collaborate on tasks. You can also make sure all outcomes are flagged as a project milestone or a business outcome with a value, and linked to the business objectives.
Sharktower’s Delivery Map planner is the central anchor point and source of the truth
Sharktower’s Delivery Map encourages the user to be outcome-focused and to really consider how they’ll achieve each milestone, outcome or deliverable. The way the plan is drawn means even those without project management expertise can clearly see the order in which everything needs done, who needs to do it, how it all fits together and how it links to the overall business goals.
This then becomes your central anchor point and source of the truth for the scope and progress of the project – it can be used as a communication tool to run focused discussions in delivery meetings, to onboard new team members to the project and to convey dependencies to stakeholders.
Because everything is connected, any changes that are made are automatically populated throughout all of your plans and reports. The more data that’s entered (and the more it’s kept up-to-date) the greater the insights your business can derive from it.
Monitoring and tracking
When you manage projects, you need an understanding of what’s going on, whether through reports from your teams or checking how planned activities are progressing.
For this to be effective, everyone involved in project delivery must be able to collaborate and have clear and open channels of communications.
To do that well, you need:
- A project plan that any team member can engage with, drill down into the detail and understand their role and how everything fits together.
- Task list or kanban – particularly useful for people who are managing their own tasks
- Integrated messaging platforms like Microsoft Teams, where everyone can communicate directly about the project
- A regular cadence of project status meetings and stand-ups to share progress, remove roadblocks and stay aligned, even remotely
- Reports and dashboards to help reduce the time associated with collecting and compiling reports
How that looks in Sharktower:
- The Delivery Map planning tool enables real-time collaboration and gives a clear view of the bigger picture and dependencies between teams
- Drag-and-drop kanban board, where everyone can ask questions, log decisions and request updates
- Sharktower Meetings, the unique tool that stores actions and decisions within the plan.
- Objectives linked all the way to key results to milestones to tasks
- Real-time reports aggregating all the data entered during project delivery to a level useful for all stakeholders (more about reports below)
Much of project monitoring is focused on quantitative metrics such as activity status, budget spend, and burn rate, but equal focus needs to be given to qualitative metrics. One key metric is the happiness of the project team: after all, it’s the people on the ground who really know what’s going on: if they don’t believe in the projects or are disengaged with it, you probably want to know!
When you’re overseeing several different projects, it can be difficult to spot problems with team morale, especially if you’re all working remotely and there are fewer opportunities for direct engagement. Sharktower helps recreate some of that close communication, with morale insights fed back automatically in the Team Sentiment score.
As team members comments on tasks, Sharktower can interpret the text within the comments boxes as an indicator of how a team member is feeling. The software uses natural language processing to create a score that reflects team morale and provides an indicator to help project managers know where to look for potential issues.
Measurement and reporting
Portfolio reports should be simple, short and clearly structured. You have to be able to break down complex information into small, understandable pieces of info, with the added ability to drill down when you need to.
At the highest level, Sharktower’s portfolio-style real-time reports enable you to view all projects and their status at a glance. The colour indicators also make it easy for decision-makers to judge if they need to seek out more information.
In Sharktower portfolio view, each project is represented as a tile so you can easily see the following metrics and indicators.
What’s visible in portfolio view
||Often the only metric needed. Used to indicate whether the project is currently on track (green), at risk (amber), or off track (red)
||Conducting a simple milestone review lets stakeholders see actual progress versus what was expected
|Number and status of activities
||This gives you a bird’s eye view of the progress of individual tasks and activities and another indication of whether the project is behind or ahead of schedule.
|Progress in current and previous week
||This can help indicate the level of activity and if the volume of work is slowing or as expected
||This shows you if there’s a particular issue with the resourcing of the project (as we know there often is!)
If you do have a lot of projects running in unison, you can concentrate on the information you need by applying filters. You can filter by RAG status, by portfolio, or you can search for a specific project from across all portfolios.
You can see how simple it is to build a story: something that would previously have taken some hours to collate and wrestle into PowerPoint slides for the weekly meeting (and by the time the meeting happens, your data’s already out of date) . Even then, a senior stakeholder might simply need to know one thing – which risk needs their attention most?
With Sharktower, you can drill down to lower-level detail right then and there, giving stakeholders and programme assurance colleagues the context they need when deciding to support the project or not.
Another critical aspect we have learned after years of project management is the importance of objective project reporting, and the next level of reports contains ways to help you do that.
At this level, you might be making hundreds of judgements and decisions about projects every single day, and you’ll need metrics that indicate the overall status of all tasks and activities. Things like progress versus plan, costs, benefits, risks and issues, resources and customers. No wonder then that project managers spend so much of their time just chasing, collecting, checking and consolidating data before any decisions can be made!
Interpreting the data
If you’re using traditional processes, you’ll have to interpret the data before you can recommend actions to ensure delivery is on time, on budget and on scope. In many cases, you’ll also need to employ subjective judgement.
Key data points you’ll need to gather before you can recommend actions:
- Overall status of each project activity by number completed, on track, at risk and slipped
- Status of each activity across weeks or months by stage overdue, complete and due
- Assessment of project performance based on activity status
- Key risks and issues
Or you could use Sharktower…
If you click on a project tile, you’ll open a project overview with all the critical metrics, predictive analytics and insights you need available in real-time, and you can drill down to learn more about any metric that doesn’t look right.
With intelligent project management software, you can:
- Consolidate all project data – and communication – in one place
- Engage everyone involved in projects for better visibility and collaboration
- Create a regular cadence of project status meetings and stand-ups
- Access real-time reports and dashboards with actionable insights
- Create portfolio reports that are short and clearly structured
To book a 1-2-1 demo with one of the Sharktower team, just REQUEST A DEMO and we’ll get back to you to arrange a time.