What to Track

“Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted” – Albert Einstein

Here is a short list of project aspects to track over time:

  • Progress – towards achieving criteria for advancement to next milestone,
  • Work – who, when started, when stopped,
  • Cost – for discovery, this may be synonymous with work (FTEs),
  • Time – when the project started, when it stopped, when it restarted, when it reached the next milestone, and
  • Risk Management – what are the risks, who is responsible for resolution of each risk, the date when a risk is resolved.

Of course, the devil is in the detail. Some particularly devilish detail includes

  • identifying the true holders of the most accurate information on each project,
  • accommodating the format of that information (html, excel, word, powerpoint?) with the format of the project and portfolio system,
  • synchronizing information updates with system updates,
  • ensuring project information storage and retrieval, and
  • ensuring the tracking of either biomolecular or small molecule projects by the system (their differences must not get in the way).

Proper tracking of these aspects will provide answers to the following questions (a partial list).

  • What has been accomplished to date?
  • How much did it cost to get this far?
  • What is being worked on at present
  • Are there any issues that may limit success? (Risk tracking)
  • How much is it costing now? Can the budget handle this cost?
  • How much will it cost to reach the next milestone? Will there be room in the budget for this work?
  • When will the current work be completed?
  • How long did it take? How long on average does it take? (Cycle time tracking)
  • What will be worked on in the future? (Look at the projects in earlier stages).
  • What future issues may limit success?