Multiple Project Tracking Excel Template Free Download

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   It has become an industry norm for project managers to work on multiple projects. Keeping track of multiple projects is very challenging and having a mechanism to be able to track tasks effectively is key in the whole process. For any project manager working on multiple projects this should be part of Excel Project Management Templates.

Multiple Project Tracking Excel Template
Multiple Project Tracking Excel Template

Features of the Multiple Project Tracking Excel Template

  1. Provides a mechanism to track high level tasks for multiple projects. Easy, simple and free to use.
  2. Project Managers can use this tracker on a daily basis so that they can provide quick updates to their senior management.
  3. At any point will give a snap shot view of at least 4 projects. Additional projects can added and can be viewed by scrolling down.
  4. Handles up to 5 phases for each project. You can change project phases as per your need but the same phases will be applicable across all the projects.
  5. For each project phase there is a % percentage complete and comments section. The comments section is useful when there is a need to highlight issues. 
  6. Tracks up to 4 Key Performance Indicators(KPI) for each phase. Each project KPI has a status 3 statuses - Good, Bad and Worry,
  7. Good - when all is good, Worry - when you have concerns about the KPI and Bad - when things have already gone pear shaped.
  8. Provides a key notes and dates section which can be used to highlight and track key dates. Can also be used to document comments. 
  9. Each key date or comment has a column for date and status. There is also a status column which can be used to display Green, Amber and Red status. Generally, helpful to convey the status in regards to the date.

How to manage multiple projects?

Managing (or should I say juggling?) multiple projects is not for the faint of the heart but, sooner or later in our careers, we all experience such situations since a) resources are scarce, b) organizations can’t afford hiring additional staff, and/or c) when you are good at what you do, you end up being punished rewarded with more projects.

Despite not being able to be dedicated to a single project is nowadays a common scenario, there is not much guidance out there of what to do, thus, today I’m going to give you my hints and tips on how to survive when managing multiple projects.
  • Prioritize your projects: all clients and all projects are equal but some are more equal than others. Don’t simply assume that all projects are important. Check with your PMO (project management office) or Portfolio Board which projects deliver the most value and prioritize your effort accordingly. If there is no portfolio prioritization in place, discuss the issue with your project sponsor and project board. Unless you become an ‘octopus’ project manager, it will be impossible to dedicate the same level of love and attention to all projects equally.
  • Prioritize your own time: don’t despair with your over-allocation, every day is an opportunity to excel. Start the day by planning what it is that you really need to accomplish that day. Use checklists to set your daily goals and find your ‘secret spot’ where you know you will not be interrupted. It is easy to get distracted if you are in a room full of colleagues but sometimes you just need to focus in one thing at a time to get the job done. Also, don’t neglect the power of quick wins: they will keep you motivated and will certainly please your stakeholders.
  • Distinguish between importance and urgency: not everything that is important needs to be done just now. Learn to use your time more effectively by distinguishing between what is urgent and what is important, and manage your time like a president, using the famous principle developed by President Eisenhower. Take care of tasks which are urgent and important first, then urgent but not important. Don’t waste your time with tasks that are neither important nor urgent, you can do them once things are quieter.
  • Manage dependencies: with so much work, it is easy to have things falling between the cracks and, if these things are dependencies between projects, my friend, you have a problem in hands. A useful tool to ensure that all dependencies and impacts are identified and timely managed is a Dependencies Log, which can be supported by a Dependencies Map. A Dependencies Map is a very powerful mechanism to communicate with your team and stakeholders since it visually represents interfaces and points of dependencies between projects.
  • Set up a masterplan: while masterplans and subprojects are mostly used for managing programs, they can be very handy for managing a set of non-related projects too, particularly if using the same pool of resources. By putting all your project plans under the ‘umbrella’ of a masterplan, you will be able to easily flag dependencies, as well as better manage deliverables and the time of the teams, since all data will be centralized in a single place.
  • Delegate: with so much going on, it’s understandable that you want it all to go according to plan but you should resist the temptation to micromanage the work of your team or to do all the work yourself. You already have plenty on your plate, mate! Project managers tend to play superheroes and be the one and only responsible for all mitigation and resolution plans for risks and issues. Please don’t perpetuate that trend. Delegate some of the work to trusted professionals in your management team. Remember, accountability and responsibility are closely linked concepts but they are indeed different.
  • Learn to say ‘no’: pay attention, one of the reasons why you are in your situation in the first place is because you accepted the new project that was assigned to you. Don’t be afraid to say ‘no’. Often project managers are too optimistic and overestimate their own capacity, however, make no mistake: problems happen. Be humble and acknowledge your own limitations and how much you can take on.
  • Ask for help: in some organizations, there are dedicated project support offices (PSO), intended to assist project managers in delivering their projects on time, on budget, and according to requirements, which typically also include functions of secretariat. If you are in the need for an extra help, contact your PMO or PSO and request a dedicated support analyst to help you out with all the planning, tracking, and paperwork of the project.
  • Raise it as a risk: a good project manager identifies all the key risks that can impact the project, even if that means suggesting that his/her own availability is a concern. When it comes to risk management, communication is essential. By adding your limited availability to promptly address project issues and manage work as a risk in your current projects, you are not showing incompetence or complaining but rather showing your professionalism and giving visibility over a real problem, in this way setting the right expectations to your stakeholders.
Don’t just rely on your memory: it may sound like an additional overhead but, after a couple of meetings, you will soon enough realize how easy it is to mix deadlines and names of suppliers if dealing with multiple projects. Having an effective document management approach is essential to ensure that you are on top of your game. Do not neglect the importance of writing things down!

And, most importantly, don’t panic. There will be days better than others, that’s simply how life goes. So don’t panic too much and enjoy the ride. Remember that you have a team to support you and that soon each project will be completed. How do you eat an elephant, they say? One bit at a time!

What is project tracking?

Tracking a project consists of measuring whether the actual progress is in line with the planned progress. In other words it is measuring where the project is as opposed to where it should be. 

This is usually referred to as PvA (Planned vs. Actual), and is done for all the tasks, milestones and activities in the work plan. For example: A task of writing a TSR (Test Summary Report) is planned to begin on the 26th of July 2017, take 4 days to complete and be done by Ganesh Sheikh. In reality the predecessor of this task was postponed by 2 days, causing it to start on the 28th of July. 

By tracking the project, the PM can recognize this delay ahead of time and take corrective measurements to mitigate the delay or its impact on the project as a whole. Tracking isn’t limited only to the work plan, and usually includes the budget, scope, etc. of the project.

The method of tracking differs between projects, but the goal is always the same: to ascertain whether the project will deliver on time and within the agreed upon variables.

Why is it important to track your projects?

Tracking a project is a continuous effort by the PM, and can help in recognizing problems before they occur and thus save money. 

Many times the PM is assisted in this area by the PMO (Project Management Office), whose responsibility it is to track the progress and alert the PM to potential bottlenecks, red flags, etc.There are two main objectives of tracking a project – 

Tracking the PvA

  • This effort consists of looking back at what was achieved, and results in communicating to all the stakeholders of the project the status of the scope, budget, effort, risks and timeline of the project. 
  • This assists in alerting them to the corrective measures they may need to take, the risks they face and their priorities.
  •  Lack of communication has been cited as one of the main factors of project failures, and the PvA is a major part of achieving a communication plan.

Planning 

  • This effort consists of looking forward to agree on what needs to be done. If the actual is according to the plan, then this effort is rather simple and requires only looking ahead to the next tasks. 
  • If there were delays in any of the tasks then agreeing on corrective mitigation efforts are required. 
  • Mitigating the delays is also required, and prioritizing the tasks is one of the major tasks of the PM. If the delays are major (i.e. more than 15% delay of the initial duration) then a re-plan is required. 
  • This can result in changing the scope of the plan, adding to the initial budget or hiring extra resources. 
  • Another benefit of tracking is to align the team-members with the overall objectives of the plan, and granting them visibility of the current status.

Best Practices for Tracking Multiple / Single Projects

  1. Baseline: Once the variables (scope, timeline, budget, etc.) of the project are set and the effort begins, they should be frozen and serve as the reference point for comparing the actual during the projects’ lifecycle.
  2. Uniformity: Always use the same methods and tools while tracking a project in order to avoid confusion by the team members and stakeholders.
  3. KPI’s: A set of KPI’s can assist in measuring the variables of the project, but caution must be exercised! The KPI’s should only measure whether the business goals are being improved, and not whether a project is using its entire budget or is delivering its scope.

  4. Frequency: It is important to agree on when the PvA, KPI’s and planning updates will take place. The results should then be communicated throughout the project, and be used in any status update meetings.
  5. BI (Business Intelligence): If there is a BI tool available, it is a good idea to configure it to the database of the tracking tool/s. This will diminish the required effort in producing the reports, and will provide them on-line at any given moment. A dashboard can also be set up in order to present them in a friendly visual manner.
  6. Communication: Involving all of the team members, vendors, clients and stakeholders in any deviance from the plan can help in reaching a mitigation plan for getting back on track.
  7. Visibility: Presenting how a delay in one task affects the projects’ scope and timeline can heighten the responsibility and accountability any one team member feels regarding their tasks and activities.

Some Tools which can help you in tracking projects

  1. MS-Project: The designated MS tool for tracking the timeline, tasks and milestones. It has base lining capabilities and is planned to be used as a tracking tool. 
  2. Primavera: A project portfolio tool that like MS-Project is planned to track projects and allow the users visibility of the PvA. It has a less friendly look & feel, but its output is regarded to be more helpful. 
  3. Excel: The spreadsheet tool wasn’t planned to track progress of timelines, but can be used to do so in simple short term projects. The main use of this tool is to track the budget of a project, and can easily produce a PvA graph for this. 
  4. IPWC (IBM Program Work Centre): A tool designed by IBM for use by its employees and clients for tracking projects, risks, issues and tasks. Its main advantage is that it is compatible with most MS tools, and they can be used as input and output of the tool.

Some limitations of the template

  1. Cannot handle different phases for different projects because of the structure of the template. You may need to to grey out to delete certain phases for projects which are not applicable to certain projects.
  2. Does not replace the need of the detailed project schedule or plan as the template is meant for only high level tracking.

Click Here to Download Multiple Project Tracker Excel Template

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