Are You Getting What You Need From Project Tracking?

In this issue ....

  • a simple log for tracking projects

  • 588 words, a 3 minute read.

There is much to do about the need for project job costing and everything that goes into it. We have always asserted that the numbers don’t lie. And the profit and loss statement is plenty good enough to track project profit. But what about proactive managing of those projects along the way?

So, we looked at the sequence of proposing, closing, building/installing, even forecasting and post project analysis to get a feel for what might be the minimum viable product for tracking all our projects. Considering most CI companies have less than 100 true projects annually (disregarding service-related items), the task is not very overwhelming but potentially very valuable.

Surprisingly enough only 22 key measures were required to provide some incredible insights into what can be managed daily. And here they are in an EXCEL workbook example. Note: the four stages: Selling/Closing, Build/Installing, Forecasting & Post Final. The 22 data fields get populated as the project moves from proposal to contract (job) to final. Only half, eleven, require continuous updating, while 11 are one-time entries.

Consider Selling/Closing:

Beyond basic salesperson, client name, trade partner (if applicable or source of lead or existing client), project ID and tracking the original proposal amount, consider tracking: amount net of changes, a top line margin (excludes labor costs), labor dollars as a % of total, first date presented and close date. The major focus of this data is to make sure over $2 of proposals are leading the closing rate of $1 on an on-going basis. When proposals and contract closing start to dry up, future revenue is at risk.

Build/Install Stage:

Tracking the billing from projects and remaining work can be critical to realizing the margins you quoted. This should be updated at least monthly and production meetings should have weekly access to this information. Change orders can dramatically affect these numbers, so add these in as they occur.


On the first of each month, you should determine what is possible to deliver in the coming month. Also, what is deliverable in the next month and third month too. This 3-month outlook tells you more about the business than you might think. If you do this every month, you will see a waterfall effect of your backlog which over time tells you when you are building or losing steam.


Most companies miss this critical phase. At the end of a project how many hours were billed versus our quote and how many hours over or under did we experience and why? This offers learnings to be applied to the next projects we bid, so the negative cycle does not repeat itself.


By keeping this simple log, you can better understand your business and make decisions on selecting jobs and pricing projects. Some of the possible business analytics include:

Project Composition:

Typical Project Size Typical Margin derived Typical Length of Project Typical Length of Sale Sub Mix Projects Margin/Mix by Sales Rep

Monthly Trends such as:

Back trend of Proposals Made Back Trend of Contacts Closed Back Trend of Billings Made Forward Trend of Backlog Converted

The net-net of this exercise is to give you the information you need to take action. We hope you will adopt some form of this. Imagine having this information on the past 12 months of projects? Helpful?

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