Progress Management for Non-Tech Disciplines
“I've been trying to wrap my head around progress measurement for non technical disciplines. In my experience when creating a master project plan inclusive of technology (specifically development in this case), and non technical verticals (marketing, communications, business development, PR etc.), tracking progress within non-technical work becomes increasing difficult.
I find the challenge is feeding the true project status of an holistic initiative (or program). How can I get realistic, or real numbers to track to, if I'm not tracking resource time as a factor? Development is easy--- sprint progress mapped to task's completion percentage, hours from external resources mapped to a key deliverable. However what about marketing, communications or sales?
What's the best practice way to track these areas of a plan? Target dates -- help measure schedule risk, and deliverable risk, along with their associated dependencies, but what about for example, marketing campaign design. How can I obtain a more data driven % complete rather than a subjective readout from the resource?”
I have managed both IT (Agile and waterfall), manufacturing, materials and marketing product launches.
For non-technical tracks of a project, I have found that the best method to track progress accurately is set a rule that no task is allowed to have a duration longer than two weeks. Ideally, I tried to limit durations to one week or less.
By limiting durations, you eliminate the problems involved with percent complete reporting. Tasks are either complete or not complete. There is no percentage estimating to be done.
This approach does increase the size of your project schedule. However, the increase in schedule size is well worth elimination of percent complete estimates.
"Not started", "In progress" or "Done" are the only three states a task can have with absolute certainty.
If anyone on the team dislikes the additional layer of task decomposition this requires, gently remind them that they only have to do that with you once, whereas it will be quick and easy for them when you come round to collect their progress every week!