What’s the hardest part about being responsible for the management of an entire project? Is it getting your employees to do their job? Delegating tasks? Making sure all the deadlines are met? Facing clients? All of the above?
Let’s face it, being a manager has never been easy. You always end up being accountable for whatever goes wrong. And things will go wrong. But there’s one quality that all good project managers have - they analyze their projects to prevent problems and then they analyze them again to learn from their mistakes.
This article is all about the importance of project analysis and how using a software for time tracking projects can help in some aspects of this process.
When Should You Do Project Analysis?
Optimally, all the time. It might sound over the top, but the process of analyzing your progress, re-evaluating expectations, projecting your success and looking back at what you’ve done so far should never stop. What you look at during this analysis, however, might change depending on when you do it.
First of all, the analysis should start even before the project does. This phase is important for managing client expectations, projecting costs, estimating how much the project is likely to take, as well as planning the specific steps necessary to accomplish it.
This analysis should continue throughout the entire project. If you’re using project management time tracking software, it will run during the whole process and you can stop after each milestone or periodically to evaluate what you’ve done thus far, what needs to be done next and whether there’s any reason to change the way you work.
And finally, after everything is done and the project is officially completed, you should do one more retrospective analysis. This is the part that we’re going to focus on in this text.
So let’s take a look at what you need to evaluate, how you can use time tracking projects data to provide additional basis for analysis, as well as what the point of all this really is.
Aspects of Retrospective Project Analysis
When you’re looking back at what your team has accomplished during the project’s timeline, there are three broad aspects of the project that you should be looking at and evaluating: functionality, time and cost. We’ll discuss each of those in more detail.
Functionality refers to whether or to what extent your team managed to complete the ultimate goal of the project. In other words, it’s the question of whether the result of the project was successful.
This could be difficult to quantify and not even the best project time tracking software will be able to tell you how well you’ve done what you were supposed to do. Therefore, it’s crucial that you take a look back at the project outline and initial requirements and compare that to your final result.
Did you manage to do everything you were supposed to? Did you do it in a way that you’d expected? Was that the best way possible? What were the biggest weaknesses? What could you have done differently?
You should ask yourself and your team all of these questions to figure out whether the project was a success and what you can learn from any potential mistakes. Client feedback can also be a huge source of insight for this part, because that’s ultimately what matters the most.
This part of the analysis is a lot easier because now you have implemented time tracking for projects to do most of the work for you. It’s you, however, who will need to sort out the data and draw conclusions. The key here is to carefully choose which time tracking metrics you want to focus on.
First, let’s see what kind of data your employee reporting software can give you. The basic functionality is time tracking, so right off the bat, you’ll be able to know how much time each employee spent on each particular task. You’ll also know which tools and resources your team used to accomplish those tasks, as well as what you wasted the most time on.
When you compare this time tracking projects reports with the deadlines you’ve set at the beginning, you can tell whether everything went according to plan and what could be improved. You should also try to analyze how long certain types of tasks took, which ones were most problematic and what the biggest time-wasters were.
The last part of your analysis is calculating the final cost of the project and comparing that with your initial estimate. If the numbers don’t match, try to figure out where all the extra money left - did you extend your deadline, did you need more resources, did you have some unforeseen expenses or was it something else?
The good news is that this part of the analysis should be fairly easily measurable. For instance, some of the best project time tracking app solutions let you set an hourly rate for your employees and then they calculate billable hours, which can give you a pretty good idea of how much of your budget went on manpower.
At the end, try to decide which were the necessary costs, as well as where you could have saved money and how.
The Importance of Project Analysis
Retrospective analysis is a critical part of any project. And there’s really no excuse for not doing it because, as we’ve discussed, much of your work can be done with the use of a simple time tracker, which is typically a very lightweight software and compatible with different operating systems (you can have project time tracking software Mac or Windows version), so any team can implement it and use it for gathering data on different projects.
So let’s quickly summarize all the benefits that a well-done retrospective project analysis can offer to your team and your company:
- Evaluating performance and team dynamic: Taking a look back will give you a chance to estimate how well your team has been working, whether the delegation was optimal, and what could be improved. Evaluation process is a major part of growing and becoming more competent and stronger as a team.
- Reporting to the client: A final holistic review of the project is an excellent way to show the client that you’re accountable and professional. So be critical, objective, accurate and detailed.
- Gaining insights to help you with future project management: The more project analyses your team goes through, the more informed you’re going to be about what you can expect on future projects. You’ll be able to delegate the tasks better, plan the process in a more optimal way, set more realistic deadlines, etc.
Learning from your mistakes is almost as important as successfully going through the project. Whether you’re using time tracking projects data or doing the analysis on a review session with your team, you’re sure to get a lot of valuable insights that will not only help you with evaluation and client reporting for this project, but will also make future endeavors even more successful.