Project Tracking vs Project Management

Leo D. Murillo
Jul 16, 2020 4:00:00 PM

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. This post will explain how these two concepts differ and give some tips on achieving them 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 previously, a project is the set of activities and tasks that must be performed to produce a product, service, or specific result, generally within a determined period of time and with an associated cost. It must be independent of 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 that, it can be used to track the tasks of a project, manage a support service, or it can even be used to manage a team, a department, or whatever you want to manage. Therefore, it's 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 their lifecycle. This management is, or should be, independent from the tool being used. The only things that may vary are methods, shape, the processes, but there must always be an objective: providing teams, managers, and enterprises with 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 Wellington 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 the shape.

What is Project Tracking?

In general terms and ignoring the fact of which tool we going to use, we recall the following definition of 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 the teams.

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 monitoring 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 of showing projects, independent of how projects are being managed and how 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 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.

The Project Tracking Bow shows the pillars to overlook when monitoring projectsThe Project Tracking Bow presents these practice pillars, which are essential to monitor when tracking projects.

Which aspects to trace when tracking projects?

As we showed before, in The Project Tracking Bow, the act of tracking projects must be done by means of data and alerts:

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

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


  •    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 projects 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 Projectrak

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 track them effectively, this guide will show the first steps you need to take to organize and catalog the information that matters and that way, achieve a successful tracking of healthy projects.


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