Tracking methods shouldn't be news to project managers; after all, most project managers track tasks, dependencies, resource allocation, etc. The project tracking process for measuring project requirements is just one more area project managers must be aware of when determining project metrics.
Why Develop a Project Tracking Process for Measuring Project Requirements?
Perhaps you feel overwhelmed as a project manager with all the things you have to keep track of. After all, you need to track the project budget to monitor and control costs, track resources to avoid overallocation of resources, and keep on top of the project schedule to be sure you don't fall behind. Possibly the last thing on your mind at the moment is the development of a project tracking process for measuring project requirements; however, this is one of the most important tracking systems you can develop. By developing a project tracking process for measuring project requirements, then you and your stakeholders will always know:
- What project requirements have been met
- Which requirements still need to be met
- What elements of the project support which requirements
- That all requirements have been covered in the project planning phase and are being implemented during the execution phase
It is important that you are consistent. Nothing is worse than a tracking system that is inconsistent and not comprehensive. Here's a process for ensuring that all project requirements are measured.
1. Define Project Requirements
The first step of being able to track and measure your project requirements is defining what those requirements are. Ideally, you should undertake this step in the project initiation phase. When you define project requirements, it will be helpful if you can get as many of the stakeholders together to discuss what the ideal requirements for the project are. Just like goals, your project requirements should be "SMART:"
By treating requirements like goals or objectives, it will be far easier to track and measure the requirements.
2. Define the Metrics for Each Requirement
Once you know what your project requirements are, you need to define the metrics for each requirement. Not every requirement will be measured in the same manner. The first thing you need to do is ask yourself, "What metric would be best to measure this requirement?" For instance, you wouldn't measure progress on a product design in the same way you would measure the sales of that design. Take time to ensure that the metrics you choose for each of the requirements is the best possible; this way, you'll be more likely to accurately track the progress on your project requirements.
3. Think About Using Project Management Software
Once you've defined the project requirements and determined how you will measure each requirement, then you may wish to look into some of the best project management software options. There are many outstanding programs that can help you track your project's goals and milestones and that are easy to use. By automating some parts of the project tracking process for measuring project requirements, it will be far easier to track your requirements' metrics.
4. Decompose Requirements into Component Parts
By decomposing the requirements for your project into their component parts, you can ensure that each requirement is accounted for in terms of tasks that need to be done to accomplish the goals of your project. Your work breakdown structure (WBS) should be based on project requirements (as well as routine requirements for completing projects in your company). Enter your WBS into either an Excel file or your project management program, and begin to schedule your project.
5. Begin Tracking, and be Consistent
Once you've entered your information into your tracking system, and your project is underway, it's time to begin the tracking process. It's not enough to determine the requirements, measurements, and methods for tracking. You need to actually do it. Be sure if you're using software that you're updating the software every day, at the very least. If you're using Excel or another spreadsheet program to track progress on your milestones, be consistent. Do not start entering items in using one type of measurement and then enter other items in using the metrics your team gathers.
Don't slack on collecting data. Otherwise, it will get very tricky when it comes time to gathering all of your data and entering it into your chosen program.
6. Double Check the Information You've Gathered
Finally, it is important to be sure that you have tracked the information properly. If you get information that doesn't sound like it's correct, then you need to be sure that it is correct. If data are out of the normal range for what you're collecting, double check your numbers. If an employee says that a deliverable was completed, double check to ensure its completeness and that it meets all requirements.