The difference between project tracking and project management

 |  By: Steve Johnson

There is a difference between working on projects, managing projects and tracking projects.

  • Anyone carrying out a process to a project could be said to be working on it.

  • Managing projects is the task of taking overall control of it, making sure resources are allocated to it, deadlines and milestones are met, budgets are kept to, and team members, clients and management are all kept up to date.

  • Tracking projects is the task of continuously monitoring progress of the project and comparing that with the plan, noting where there are divergences, assessing the implications and communicating the results.

Project tracking can embrace a number of powerful concepts:


Dashboards are a highly visual reporting tool that shows, in real-time, a summary of the project. A dashboard focuses on the essentials and often shows them in graphs and charts for an instant presentation of the key areas important to the person viewing it.

Project progress

Updates happen to projects all the time. Team members continually enter time spent, costs allocated, job progress made, delays, and so on. Everything is compared with the original plan.

A constant question in the air is 'Are where we're supposed to be at this time?' The plan might say that the project should be 32% completion by today's date. However we might only be 26% complete. What happened, and what needs to be done to get back on track? Are we waiting for client approval? Are we waiting for a client payment? Are we a person short? Do we need to get more resources?

When managing projects, nobody likes surprises because they are rarely positive. A system that alerts team members to early problems as soon as they arise is going to dramatically reduce the risk of crises later down the line.

Project health

Project Health reports focus on which projects have started to slip, giving the team notice while there's time to act. Compare this with end-of-project reports that show historic information on whether it met its targets – all very interesting but way too late to do something about it,


Tracking project progress can involve a great deal of information pulled together. But tracking the project's ongoing profitability is another order of complexity. It's one of the main reasons to choose a project management system in the first place.

Remote working

One major business impact of the year 2020 will of course be its fame for becoming the tipping point for remote working. Cloud-based project management systems (such as Synergist) were well geared for the shift. Team members access their information by browser, wherever they are.

Everything in one place

Time spent searching for information is time wasted that could have been spent on client work or on discovering useful insights to make future projects more profitable.

Having everything together in one unified platform changes everything. No more wondering whether the information you're looking at is out of date. No more scrambling for resources at the last minute for a problem that could have been anticipated earlier. No more wondering whether a complex project is even going to deliver profits. It's all there on screen and in your project reports.

Tracking in a transparent world

You wouldn't send a satellite into space without constantly monitoring where it is and how it's performing.

But then nowadays you can order some perfectly ordinary item online and discover you can track the package's progress drop by drop as it heads towards your location. It has become second nature to expect transparency in business. Your client expects it for a start.