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I am trying to manage project progress; what is the best way to track and manage project progress? As the project progresses, how does one recognize, anticipate and track alternative possibilities?

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    This site does not recommend tools. But the manner in which you asked this question suggests you're missing something even more fundamental: project management know how. All tools come with pluses and minuses and everyone has an opinion of which is better, but in reality the tool is quite inconsequential when compared to the basics of PM knowledge. I think you need to ask questions around that. – David Espina Dec 19 '16 at 12:39
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    Can you add more specifics to your question? What is it you want to know about your project and what kinds of alternative possibilities are you on the lookout for? – Daniel Dec 19 '16 at 14:48
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The tools you will use depends on the level of granularity you want to track.

For short periods (1-4 weeks (sprint in Scrum)), you can use Burndown and Burnup charts. The first one measures your progress against a planned scope; the second one measures your progress against the current scope in a given time.

For longer times, in order to measure how well and smoothly a team is going, you can use Cycle Time and Velocity. For forcasting project completion and addition work added during the project impact, you can use Cumulative Flow Diagram.

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And while I wouldn't recommend using Traditional Development (Waterfall), if you do then you want to pull on the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBoK). Chapter 6 of the PMBoK covers Project Time Management.

Earned Value is a common one used in old style projects.

  • You can used EV with agile. – David Espina Dec 21 '16 at 11:10
  • True, you can, I wouldn't typically. There are better measures for agile projects. – Joel Bancroft-Connors Dec 22 '16 at 4:13
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I would add:

  • The important thing is to have a way to track all the details you need, in order to get to completion.
  • Make sure to update your tracking frequently (could be every day, if not every few hours, depending on your type of project). Having a tracking system doesn't help if it's not up-to-date.

Once you have all the details tracked and up-to-date you should be able to see if you're heading towards your expected result or if you want to change anything.
If you're not technical enough, then have periodic meetings with key players to review the project status.

Don't use a tool/methodology you don't understand. You cannot "practice" and manage at the same time. At the very least, run in parallel; use the new tool but also a system you understand, so that you can understand what is happening at any time.

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    To be more specific, "track all the details you need, and nothing more". Useless data takes work to be gather and are increase the risk of the team giving up progress tracking. – João Farias Dec 23 '16 at 18:30

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