No matter what kind of tracking methodology you use, you need to constantly be in diligent reassessment mode. The question you ask yourself is, "Are we still on track?" You look at your team members, requirements, activities, and milestones and make an educated, qualified estimate of how well off the project is. In order to perform these reassessments, you' l l routinely examine the project charter, requirements, and scope documents.

One thing that' s important to keep in mind is that there' s a deterioration effect that happens with projects, especially with the critical path. Suppose you are aware that a certain individual is a tiny bit behind with his part of the project—a part that happens to be a predecessor to another step in the critical path. If you don't keep an eye on this lag and even urge him to get back on track, then his part will wind up lagging the next, and so forth. If there are any other lagging components to the project, or if the lag that he created causes other things to be delayed, then you' l l begin to see the project delayed further and further.

Suppose, for example, that you cannot order a certain hardware component until your slowpoke is finished with his activity. But because he takes a bit more time than usual, when you get ready to order the hardware, there' s an out-of-stock delay that costs a day because they have to get the part from a different warehouse than usual. Next thing you know, the estimated completion time of the whole project has shifted ahead by several days simply because one person stalled a little bit. Keep an eye on this compounding effect.

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