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Project Tracking vs Project Management

Leo Díaz
16-jul-2020 16:00:00

Project tracking and Project Management are two activities that at first glance seem to be the same thing, however, there's much more to differentiate between these two. In this post we will explain how these two concepts differ, and we'll give some tips on how to achieve it within Jira.

Project Tracking is commonly confused with Project Management. People make this mistake by using both terms to refer to the same thing; it's important to differentiate whether we are talking about project management or we are talking about project tracking, and we will do defining the following.

  1. What is a project? And what's a project in Jira?
  2. What is Project Management?
  3. What is Project Tracking?
  4. Which aspects to trace when tracking projects?
  5. Conclusions

Let's start!

What is a project?

As we have defined it previously, a project is the set of activities and tasks which must be performed in order to produce a product, service or specific result, generally within a determined period of time, and with an associated cost. It must be independent from the tool you use. The methodology that you choose, is the only thing that may alter the management of projects because it alters the shape and not the substance.

Within Jira the concept of a project changes. So, what is a Jira project then? A Jira project is a collection of issues, and nothing else. An issue can be anything you want it to be.

It's important to remark this tool has been conceived to coordinate the development of a product, and despite of that, it can be use to track the tasks of a project, manage a support service or it can even be use to manage a team, a department or whatever you want to manage. Therefore, it is important not to assume that a project in Jira is the same thing as a project in the context of Project Management.

In the following image we show you the possibilities you have within Jira projects:

a jira project can be anything you need to beA Jira project can be anything you need to be; it is important to make the tool work for you in order to track projects effectively


What is Project Management?

Project Management is the set of disciplines, processes and tools where projects lean during its lifecycle. This management is, or should be, independent from the tool is being use. The only thing which may vary are methods, the shape, the processes, but there must always be an objective: providing teams, managers and enterprises enough mechanisms to coordinate and control the projects during their lifecycle.

Some of the usual processes in project management are:

Valuable processes in the Project Management environment
Image from the annual Welligntone State of Project Management report of 2019

It's important to highlight that project management must be independent of the methodology it's followed, since in most cases, it will be needed to manage risks, costs, scope, etc., and practicing it in an agile or traditional way will not impact beyond than the shape.

What is Project Tracking?

In general terms and ignoring the fact of which tool are we going to use, we recall the following definition about Project tracking which is a task aimed to provide real data about the progress of a project, and therefore offer the preparation to sort out problems and make needed adjustments. This task is usually done by Project Managers, PMOs, and even by the teams themselves.

Project tracking is one of the many things to do when managing projects and many assume this as something implicit to management without giving the proper attention it requires. Therefore it's not coherent to expect that the processes generate data by default, and that will allow to monitor projects, whereas it should be the other way around: the tracking of projects must be a pro-active action included within the management activities, and not an activity reacting to the results of processes.

From the tool perspective, Jira has its own way to show projects, and therefore independent of how projects are being managed, and the way their tracking is being done.

It's important that the person with the Project Lead role have control over all projects they lead, and Jira Administrators have access to projects to perform a project tracking that allows them to remove the chaos created by the growth of tasks the use produce and keep a regular maintaining service to the instance.

Aspects to overlook when tracking projectsIt's essential to keep the record over these aspects when tracking projects.

Which aspects to trace when tracking projects?

Tracking must be done by means of data and alerts:

  •    Data: It's necessary to collect all the information on projects and access to it in a more centralized way, given the management processes provide a few outputs which should be aggregated to projects to be able to share the outcomes.

  •    Alerts: having warning mechanisms for all those interested or participating in projects.

Besides, it's important that projects are actionable and auditable:

  •    Actionable: when track projects at scale, with the intention of saving time and effort, it will be necessary to make bulk changes, the projects must be actionable during all of their complete lifecycles. Productivity is key.

  •    Auditable: projects change a lot during their lifecycle, so it is necessary to have a log which helps us to understand what have happened to our projects.

And having overall views and reporting that help us with decision-taking:

  •    Overall view: access to a general view of the projects to get a centralized and ensembled visualization of projects.

  •    Reporting: Summarizing and aggregating the information of projects to have an overall view of what is happening in the whole set of projects.

Conclusions

  •    Independently of the tool you use, remember, project tracking is another activity to be done in the scope of the project management discipline.

  •    Jira is a tool aimed at managing software development, is was not created to be a project management tool. If you want to manage projects there, you will have to adapt the tool.

  •    Beyond the tracking of projects which we assume you do, even on an Excel sheet, mind about the management of project in Jira as well.

If you are using Jira and you want to begin collecting and organizing data from your projects, download the following guide where you will learn how to catalog projects in Jira.

how to organize projects in Jira with Profields

Enhance the tracking of projects in Jira


If you are already using Jira to work with your projects, and you are looking for different ways to effectively track them, this guide will show which are the first steps you need to take, in order to organize and catalog the information that matters, and that way achieve a successful tracking of healthy projects

DOWNLOAD THE GUIDE

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