Process Improvement

Five Project Reporting Best Practices: Key Steps to Track Your Projects

January 25, 2024
9 min read

Project tracking isn’t rocket science, but it is also not straightforward. There’s a lot that goes into ensuring seamless processes and successful projects. Project managers must manage teams, negotiate with stakeholders, work with suppliers, and coordinate every part.

The experience can be overwhelming for most project managers, given up to 85% of them manage two or more projects at any given time. They must also work with smaller teams of 6 to 10 members to complete projects.

With budget and time constraints, investing in project tracking is essential to monitor the status, progress, and evolution of every task. This involves filing reports with each completed phase and recording the milestones your team has achieved.

Effective project tracking gives a vivid picture of the project status, allowing you to see upcoming tasks, available resources, and potential roadblocks. This enables your team to focus on getting the most critical work done, staying within the budget, and making timely deliveries.

Here are the key steps for effective project tracking to help you learn how to track project milestones and stay on top of every task. We’ll also share project reporting best practices to help you communicate more effectively as a project manager.

1. Ensure Clear Communication

Communication is an essential tool in the kit of any project manager. Ensuring every team member and stakeholder is on the same page is vital. For example, every team member must understand the project’s milestones, goals, performance expectations, and individual responsibilities.

The project manager must clearly articulate the project’s vision and ensure every team member understands this vision. This involves selecting communication methods that fit the project's needs. This is crucial because 75% to 90% of a project manager’s time is spent communicating.

You can use active methods like video conferencing, in-person meetings, and telephone conferencing. Be sure to supplement these methods with passive forms of communication like emails, blogs, bulletin boards, and podcasts.

The best approach is to create a communication framework that details who shares information and what information they can share. Quickbase makes this easy, allowing you to centralize all your communications for effective collaboration and timely updates and responses.

With Quickbase, you can create a customized app to track every task and process of the project. It also allows you to connect teams regardless of their geographical locations and provide access to the data they need to keep things moving.

Project managers can use Quickbase mobile apps to connect with back-office or field teams to share files and expedite approvals. This simplifies inspections, automates workflows, improves support, and enables real-time notifications to all team members.

2. Enable Transparency and Visibility

Having visibility and accessibility into every milestone of a project is vital to ensure transparency and accountability. More importantly, it supports task and progress tracking, allowing you to control the quality of deliverables and ensure productivity.

As a project manager, you must be transparent with tracking project milestones, expectations, and life cycles. Every piece should be well-known and documented to provide real-time access to the right teams. Of course, you can use permissions to control access to your data.

For example, finer details and data like financial statements and personnel information should be confidential to the management teams to ensure data integrity and security. Transparency fosters collaboration, avoids surprises, increases trust, and ensures consistency.

While ensuring transparency can be challenging, it’s not impossible. Apart from sharing essential project data and conducting regular meetings, project managers should harness the power of technology to sync updates, centralize operations, unite data, and improve access.

Quickbase offers all the tools you need to ensure transparency and visibility into your project for effective tracking. Our no-code platform allows you to centralize all your operations and leverage agile processes to improve accessibility, flexibility, and communication.

You can use reports and dashboards in Quickbase to organize your data, monitor your projects, and gain actionable insights into everything. This level of visibility bridges departmental silos, unlocks cross-system intelligence, and unites data to ignite efficiency.

3. Leverage Interactive Data Presentation

Project data can only be impactful, actionable, and relevant if your team understands it. Teams need to know what your data means, what it represents, and how to use it. As a project manager, you must know how to present your project data to your teams.

For example, complex and detailed reports are okay for technical and IT teams. However, such reports aren’t suited for executive teams and stakeholders -- they don’t want to be bogged down in too much detail. They need simple and understandable bits of data for quick decision-making.

Note that data alone doesn’t guarantee a good presentation. It should be about sharing ideas and telling a story backed with numbers and facts. During the presentation, you must focus on the key points, ensure zones are visually highlighted, and use titles that reinforce every point.

In this case, visual aids can be quite helpful in making your data presentation interactive and engaging. You can use bar charts, line graphs, pie charts, summary reports, calendars, and maps to organize your data, design your layout, and add depth to your presentation.

Quickbase simplifies presentations with charts and reports while allowing you to compile insightful and actionable data. With integrations, you can pull data from multiple sources and create reports and charts to empower your teams to make informed decisions.

For instance, Quickbase allows you to use Gantt charts for complex project tracking or Kanban boards to keep your project teams in sync. Plus, the charts are dynamic -- your teams can interact with them to get more information about every value in the presentation.

4. Ensure Regular Schedule Updates

An integral part of project tracking is updating your schedule regularly to have a clear view of the status of every task. In this case, you’ll need a schedule plan that details everything, including resources, materials, key activities, and budgets.

Every project manager must think critically about the scheduling process. Using an Excel spreadsheet or a handwritten schedule doesn’t cut it. Instead, you must use a scheduling tool to ensure timely updates and insightful reporting. Regular schedule updates make it easy to:

  • Identify upcoming tasks and delegate them accordingly
  • Understand the status of different activities, tasks, or processes
  • Set priorities for the project to ensure timely deliveries
  • Convey accurate information to on-site teams
  • Refine the plan to address all the needs of the project

Change is always constant in any project, so everything that happens must be incorporated into your schedule. Up to 52% of projects experience changes that were never planned. For example, when equipment fails to arrive on time, or you get permit rejections, you must account for such events in your schedule.

Also, all parties must be informed of these changes and updates to avoid surprises and ensure seamless transitions. You can make this effortless with automation. Team members can receive real-time notifications whenever there are schedule updates.

Note that making schedule updates requires a workflow for oversight and accuracy. Quickbase’s resource management and scheduling capabilities simplify this. You can see the entire project in a single view, make changes, and keep everyone up-to-date.

5. Generate Insightful Project Reports

During the project’s life cycle, you might need to create multiple reports to keep track of different tasks and processes. Tracking and reporting tasks can help determine if the project is on track and within budget.

You can create a report to document risks, status, progress, cost-benefit analysis, resources, gap analysis, workload, timesheet, budget, etc. Whatever the report's purpose, defining a clear objective, considering the target audience, and leveraging data to back your ideas are critical.

Project reports provide dynamic insights into the project's progress, making it easy for teams to make sound decisions and know what they’re working on. They also offer a 360° overview of the project to allow managers to determine what steps to take next.

With Quickbase reporting capabilities, you can use summary and lookup fields to aggregate data from multiple sources to streamline reports. You can also use permissions to ensure the right people can access the data.

Quickbase also allows you to leverage visualizations like charts to create custom, engaging, and interactive reports. Your team members can access these reports and data on dashboards, offering real-time visibility into the project’s performance.

With this unified approach, you get timely insights and act on them quickly while enabling efficiency and consistency across the entire project. You can display your most vital operational data using simple graphs or interactive Gantt views.

Improve Project Tracking Dashboards with Technology

Project tracking is essential to monitor the progress of your project, make changes as needed, and implement corrective actions whenever deviations occur. When done right, project tracking allows you to stay on schedule, maximize resources, and stay on budget.

Given the complex nature of projects, traditional methods and tools like Excel sheets and handwritten plans are ineffective. In fact, these methods can lead to delays, budget overruns, and poor-quality deliverables, which can ruin your reputation as a project manager.

Today, advancements in technology have simplified project tracking and management. You can get cutting-edge solutions and tools to automate, improve, or streamline every aspect of project management. The results include better visibility, quality, efficiency, and productivity.

Quickbase is at the forefront of this revolution, providing a no-code platform for creating custom apps for project management. Whether in the telecommunication, construction, or retail industry, Quickbase allows you to track every project aspect, from concept to closeout.

You can view key data on your project tracking dashboard, develop efficient workflows, automate reviews, track costs, and generate personalized reports. Get a demo to learn how Quickbase can simplify and redefine your project tracking processes.