Last Minute Risks? Continuous Project Monitoring Is the Key

Filed under Best Practices, Risk | Posted by MMeloni

We’ve all been there – you kick off a new project feeling excited and motivated. The project plan looks solid, the team is ready, and the stakeholders are eager to see results. But then, a few weeks in, things start getting a little turbulent. Issues start popping up left and right, the schedule gets thrown off track, and you find yourself asking, “How did we end up here? What’s going on?” Proper, continuous project monitoring practices could have prevented this.

It’s the painful experience of losing visibility into your project. Flying blind, if you will. One minute, you’re soaring along; the next, you’re desperately searching for landmarks, worrying you might be headed for a rocky landing. It’s one of the most maddening things that can happen on a project. Continuous project monitoring helps avoid this scenario.

“Monitoring and evaluation are not just tools, but the eyes and ears of a project manager, enabling them to be proactive, responsive, and ultimately successful.”

– Peter Taylor, VP: Global PMO, Author, and International Keynote Speaker

 Embracing Continuous Project Monitoring Practices

The good news is that this scenario is avoidable if you implement some key practices from the start. Let’s explore some of the major anti-blind-flight tactics for continuous project monitoring.

Ensuring Visibility into Status and Progress

This one seems obvious, but you’d be surprised how many projects lack a clear, real-time picture of their current state. Many projects operate in more of a “check-in” status update mode, where teams only learn about new risks and issues during recurring meetings. Robust continuous project monitoring solves this.

That backward-looking lens is a killer for projects. You want to see potential pitfalls before they become actual problems. That means integrating advanced AI tools, predictive intelligence, and processes for capturing and rolling up status at all levels daily or continuously. Make it an ingrained habit for everyone on the team. Effective continuous project monitoring depends on this.

At the task level, people should update work remaining, issue lists, work product status, and any relevant context. Then, at the above level, workstreams and milestones must reflect the real-time, accurate status based on those task updates. When done diligently across the team, that constant flow of status data becomes your eyes and ears for continuous project monitoring.

 

Create an Environment of Radical Truth-Telling

Even if you think you have great visibility on your project status, you can still fly blind if people aren’t fully transparent about risks, blockers, mistakes, and other hard truths that inevitably come up. In many organizations, there’s a tendency to candy-coat the difficult stuff or even mask problems entirely. That’s a recipe for being blindsided down the road and undermining continuous project monitoring.

You must cultivate a culture where everyone on the team feels empowered and motivated to speak up about anything that could affect the project’s success or failure. Bad news should travel faster than good news. Reward people who raise potential issues and risks early before they escalate. Never penalize messengers – telling the truth has to be safe for effective continuous project monitoring.

Balancing Process with Flexibility

Flying blind often happens when projects lack the necessary structure and processes for requirements management, change control, risk management, and so on. Completely ad hoc projects are flying without roadmaps, instrumentation, or procedures whatsoever. You don’t know where you’re going or how you’re tracking. Proper continuous project monitoring requires some processes.

At the same time, too much process in the form of heavy bureaucracy and documentation can sink a project before it ever gets off the ground. It’s all about finding the right balance – just enough process to provide clarity and guardrails, but not so much that it inhibits continuous project monitoring.

As a general rule, I’m a fan of starting relatively lean and agile from a process perspective. Ensure you’ve outlined the core essentials, but avoid getting mired in too much up-front planning and procedure. Then, let the process expand pragmatically over time based on what the project needs to stay on course. Keep trimming the fat and refining as you go to optimize continuous project monitoring.

Building Delivery Cadence and Accountability

A final key tactic is to create an unmistakable rhythm of delivery within your project—specific milestones, time-boxed iterations, or frequent integration points that force work out into the open regularly. It’s far too easy for projects to drift off into darkness without forcing functions to prompt teams to show their hand. This cadence is critical for continuous project monitoring.

When work is frequently consolidated, integrated, and visibly demonstrated, it creates a culture of accountability and urgency. No more disappearing for months into silos or black holes. Everyone knows they’ll need to put their work products on display for stakeholders to inspect at regular intervals. That constant cycle of scrutiny and feedback makes it very difficult to stay off track for long, enabling effective continuous project monitoring.

Conclusion: Achieving Project Success with Continuous Monitoring

So those are some of the major tactics I’ve found helpful for keeping projects visible and on a straight flight path, centered around robust continuous project monitoring practices. Implement a few of those approaches on your next initiative, and you’ll find your chances of a smooth landing increase dramatically. No more flying blind – just focused execution, hitting each waypoint along your route to success.

Endnote

Martin Luenendonk. “31 Essential Project Management Statistics of 2023.” FounderJar: December 05, 2022. https://www.founderjar.com/project-management-statistics/

About the Author:

Nisha Antony is an accomplished Senior Marketing Communications Specialist at TrueProject, a leader in predictive intelligence. With over 16 years of experience, she has worked as a Senior Analyst at Xchanging, a UK consulting firm, and as an Internal Communications Manager on a major cloud project at TE Connectivity. She is an insightful storyteller who creates engaging content on AI, machine learning, analytics, governance, project management, cloud platforms, workforce optimization, and leadership.

 

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