Deadlines are an unavoidable aspect of our professional lives. Without them, projects would drag on forever, innovation would stall, and businesses would stagnate. Deadlines bring structure and urgency, ensuring that teams meet their goals promptly.
But while it’s clear deadlines are important, managing them can be a real challenge for many teams – particularly small tech teams and software development teams. In teams like this, projects are often high stakes and resources limited.
Meeting these deadlines is non-negotiable. But without the right approach, stressful situations can develop, with teams forced to work around the clock in the days leading up to the deadline to ensure the project is completed.
We’re here to help you avoid those situations. By adopting project tracking software, teams can improve communication and collaboration, better manage internal expectations and requirements, and work toward successful project outcomes.
We’ll outline project tracking software’s role in helping teams proactively plan, execute, and manage projects. To do so, we’ll explore some of the key project tracking features in Backlog: an industry-leading project tracking software used by over 18,000 companies worldwide.
Read on as we explore the basic principles of effective project tracking and share practical tips and tricks that will teach you how you can master Backlog to manage your project deadlines better and accomplish positive results.
An overview of project tracking software
Project tracking software, often referred to as project management software, is a class of online tools that helps teams better plan, organize, and track every element of complex projects. Using project tracking software, teams can create a live project plan that updates in real time as team members submit work and complete tasks.
Throughout the project, there will likely be several project milestones or deliverables that must be achieved. By tracking a project, team leaders can ensure their team is on track to meet these milestones on time and on budget. Any project roadblocks that delay progress will be flagged in the project tracking software to be addressed by engineering managers or project leaders.
Project tracking software can be used in a variety of ways, but it’s particularly valuable for digital projects with a variety of stakeholders all working toward a common goal. For small tech and development teams, adopting a project tracking tool is the perfect way to ensure that important initiatives are accomplished, helping the business achieve its broader goals.
Meet Backlog: a popular project tracking software
Backlog is a leading project tracking software that helps teams spend less time planning and more time executing. It’s an all-in-one project collaboration tool, enabling team members to work together seamlessly on complex projects, exchange ideas, and access shared resources.
The platform can be used at all stages of the project lifecycle, from the initial planning phase to managing the project’s finishing touches.
Today, tens of thousands of professionals all around the world use Backlog to plan and track their projects. Join them today by signing up for a free Backlog account and following along as we walk you through how Backlog’s project tracking features can help your team never miss another deadline.
How to use project tracking software to plan your projects
When you’re assigned a new project, it’s natural to want to dive in head first and start working on whatever is most interesting first. However, that’s not the best approach. Instead, take the time to carefully plan out your project and make sure you have all the resources you need.
There are various areas you must consider when planning a project, including:
- Objectives: a project objective is the desired outcome of the project. They should be created using the S.M.A.R.T. method, which means the objectives should be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Related.
- Deliverables: a deliverable is a resource created to achieve the objective. What the deliverable looks like depends on the project objectives: it may be a ready-to-ship new feature or a formal report.
- Milestones: complex projects are typically completed in several discrete stages. At the end of each stage is a milestone – an outcome indicating the project’s stage has been completed.
- Deadlines: the date by which a project must be completed.
- Stakeholders: the team members involved in the project. Stakeholders in a tech or development project might include product managers, software engineers, graphic designers, and others.
- Resources: the time, budget, and staff time needed to complete the project.
- Dependencies: it’s likely that some elements of the project cannot be started until other aspects are completed. That’s known as a dependency, and you must account for it in your project plan.
Connect with your team to build a project schedule considering all these factors. By considering these factors in advance, you can create a project plan that mitigates potential issues your team might encounter.
Create a formal version of this plan in your project tracking software. This ensures that your team has clarity over the project plan and can plan their resources accordingly.
Setting up a project plan in Backlog
In Backlog, setting up a new project is simple. From your dashboard, select the + icon and click Add Project. Give your project a name and a project key – a short code relevant to your work.
From here, you can create project details, add specific tasks, and plot out the timeline of your project. Add team members, assign them tasks, and set deadlines for each project milestone to be completed. Project resources can also be consolidated into a Wiki – a central hub that documents all project materials.
For more details on setting up a project in Backlog, including several examples, check out our helpful guide on Backlog project setup tutorials.
Once you’ve created your project, it’s often helpful to use tools like Gantt charts and burndown charts that visually display your project plan. In Backlog, these charts aren’t just automatically generated – they update in real-time as your team progresses through the project.
Gantt charts visually display the timeline of a project as well as any of the dependencies that exist within it. Using a Gantt chart makes it easy for stakeholders to understand what elements of a project must be completed and by when to ensure that dependent tasks can be completed.
Burndown charts are another helpful tool, showing how a project is planned to progress toward completion. Over time, as tasks are completed, the line should track toward the bottom right-hand corner of the chart.
In the example below, the orange line represents the planned cadence of the project, while the green line updates in real-time as team members complete tasks that move the project toward completion.
By planning projects in Backlog, teams can create a clear outline for their project that summarizes each team member’s roles and responsibilities. As we’ll see, this is extremely valuable when it’s time to start executing project work.
How to use project tracking software to execute projects
Even the best-laid plans can get off-track. For your projects to be successful, you must execute them according to the plan. Of course, you’ll encounter obstacles, setbacks, and roadblocks along the way, but what’s important is that you don’t let them derail your team’s progress.
By executing your projects in line with your project plan, you ensure tasks will be completed on time and on budget. Sticking to the plan provides your team with consistent expectations, helping them collaborate effectively to accomplish the project’s goals. This focus on execution drives higher levels of performance from your team, resulting in an improved standard of deliverables that help your business accomplish its goals.
Successfully executing projects demands a cohesive project tracking platform that helps unite your team toward its shared goals. Backlog is precisely that, offering tech startups and development teams a wide range of features that ensure stakeholders can work closely together to achieve a successful outcome.
Executing projects in Backlog
Use Backlog to create and assign the tasks that make up larger pieces of work. It’s easy to create a new task in Backlog and delegate it to a colleague. From your project dashboard, select + Add Issue. You’ll be prompted to enter all the details your team members need to know to complete this task, including a description, due date, files, and more.
These tasks function as the building blocks of your project tracking efforts. Within them, team members can add sub-tasks, create checklists, and exchange comments with their teammates.
Every team member has their own Backlog dashboard that shows all the tasks assigned to them and recent updates to other tasks in the project. It’s easy to filter this view to drill down on the highest-priority tasks. Users can filter by the person assigned to the task, the status of the task, the priority level of the task, and more.
Developers will particularly enjoy Backlog’s Git and SVN integrations. These enable Backlog to function as a version control tool. Developers can make inline comments on each other’s code and easily compare changes before merging different branches, making the code review process a breeze. To top it off, it’s also an issue and bug tracking tool.
How to use project tracking software to monitor and manage projects
As a project progresses, leaders should closely supervise their team’s progress. It’s important to understand whether the project is progressing in line with the planned project schedule by comparing actual performance against planned performance.
Measuring the execution of a project helps project managers identify any issues that could hamper the progress of a project before they evolve into fully-formed roadblocks that bring work to a halt. This proactive approach to monitoring enables leaders to take preventative measures to mitigate any risks they identify.
Project leaders must also report regularly on their team’s progress. This is particularly true for early-stage tech companies, where projects are often mission-critical to the business’s success. Only by closely monitoring the progress of their project can managers share comprehensive project updates with founders and other business leaders.
Backlog is an indispensable tool when it comes to monitoring and managing projects. Team leaders can view progress directly from their Backlog dashboard. They can harness visual tools, including Gantt charts, Kanban boards, and burndown charts, to share a visual representation of the progress of their project.
Many technologically driven companies have a data-driven culture. Backlog not only supports that culture – it augments it. Project managers can access a series of reports that analyze the key metrics of their project, such as task completion rate, issue resolution time, team productivity, and more.
Backlog users can sign up to receive project reports and customize what they’d like to be included in those reports by opting in to receive email reports. Simply click your profile icon, select Personal Settings, then Email Settings.
From here, users can select their preferences, choosing which projects they’d like to get email reports for and what they’d like to be included in those reports.
Get started with Backlog’s project tracking software today
Effectively tracking the progress of any project is key to ensuring a successful outcome. Combining a well-thought-out project plan and sophisticated project tracking software gives teams the best chance to meet their deadlines while producing a high standard of work.
By using Backlog, tech startups and development teams can access a wide range of powerful project planning and tracking tools that make for a more efficient work environment. It’s an all-in-one project management and collaboration tool that empowers teams to spend more time on the work that matters most, supercharging productivity and raising standards.