How’s the Tunnel Coming? Tracking Long Term Projects

Published Wednesday, June 23, 2010 8:34 AM

It took 20 years for the character Andy Dufresne to tunnel his way to freedom in the Oscar winning movie The Shawshank Redemption.  While most of us will never tackle a project of this scope, we all face long-term projects in the workplace. How best to track progress?

There is no one size-fits-all answer. Large companies, with deep pockets and dedicated project managers, can avail themselves of tools such as enterprise project management software, Gantt charts, PERT (Program Review and Review Technique) and Earned Value Analysis .

Looking to learn more about the fundamentals of project management? Visit the Project Management Institute (PMI), a non-profit professional organization, for resources including the seminal A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK Guide). PMBOK is the internationally recognized standard on project management as it applies to a wide range of projects including construction, software, engineering and automotive production.  

Smaller companies, or independent workers, require simpler project management tools that allow energy to be focused on completing projects rather than tracking progress. Pared down tacking tools for leaner infrastructures can include:

  • Online Project Management Tools  (Use software or for hire-services)
  • Time Tracking  (Critical if you bill hourly; helpful for anyone wondering "what the heck have I been working on?" Keep track manually or with software.)
  • Task Management  (Tasks include document uploads, document versioning, notes and comments, due dates, task status, and daily email reminders about what is due.)
  • Milestones  (Determine deliverables and deadlines, plug these into your time tracking calendar to stay on track)
  • Evaluate Progress, Analyze Results (Find the right evaluation method or software to analyze your day-to-day workflow and outcomes.)

The bottom line, long-term projects need to be chipped away at a day at a time, much like Andy Dufresne's tunnel. Make use of project tracking tools to ensure that you are staying on track.

How do you track-long term projects? What role do milestones and deadlines play in getting to the end of your tunnel? Share your thoughts here and on the Beyond Folders Community's Facebook and Twitter pages.

by Bradley Eggers


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