Project trackers are supposed to help you stay organized and save time — but that’s not always how it goes. Far too often, project trackers only cost you time.
As a staple project management tool, project trackers allow you to track all of a project’s tasks and their features. A simple example – it tracks their status, ownership, and completion rate. You also get the option to compare the planned versus actual time duration.
When everything goes right, you get a bird’s eye view of your project. You can see how close every task is to completion, what is over budget, and what needs more resources. You can also improve your efficiency and fine-tune your workflows.
But tasks tracking isn’t always what it’s cracked up to be. A lot of time can be lost dealing with templates, software and data entry.
The best project tracker is going to be one that doesn’t waste your time with unnecessary clicks. A smart tool with built-in AI can give you the insight you need while tracking project progress automatically.
Here’s what you should know about current project tracker options and how automated task tracking with a tool like Folio can help you get more done without the extra hassle.
How Project Tracking in Excel and Other Apps Can Slow You Down
For a lot of professionals, your first introduction to project tracking is through Microsoft Excel. That’s because in the past, spreadsheets were the only way to track your projects. Today some traditional businesses still use this same method for various reasons.
Other teams opt for project tracking in Excel because they’re small, they already have the software, and they only need to track a few variables.
Many modern businesses have moved on to simple task tracking software that’s more specialized and less hassle than traditional spreadsheets.
But no matter how you look at it, a lot of time is wasted managing these Excel templates and software applications.
The Problem With Project Tracking in Excel
Excel spreadsheets offer value in a lot of ways, but often fall short when it comes to project tracking:
- Scalability – Excel is often a go-to choice for solo projects and small group projects, but can be a problem if you need to scale. More employees, more stakeholders and more complex projects can outstrip the capabilities of Excel.
- Ease of Use – Most people choose Excel for project tracking because it’s easy, but there are trade-offs, such as lots of data entry, tweaking templates and more. You may even need several templates to track everything.
- Hidden Costs – Project tracking in Excel remains popular because you don’t have to buy any new software, but there are hidden costs. It’s labor intensive which impacts productivity and any user errors could hit budgets hard.
- Limitations – Tracking a simple project in a spreadsheet seems smart, but simplicity has its limits. It’s risky to handle complex calculations by hand and can be frustrating when you can’t track crucial elements of new projects.
In short, a lot of time and effort can go into tracking your projects in Excel without any guarantee it will pay off. You may run up against limitations before you reap many rewards.
The Problem With Project Tracking Apps
Project tracking apps are definitely a step up from tracking your projects in Excel. All the same, apps can also have drawbacks:
- Upfront Costs – Unlike a standard program like Excel, project tracker software involves a new upfront cost. Quality project software can cost hundreds of dollars per month if you need team project tracking functionality.
- Learning Curves – Even simple task tracking software can have a steep learning curve. Choosing to commit to a new software will require time for onboarding and training for everyone who needs to use it.
- Feature Overkill – Feature-rich project trackers can be great if you need those features. On the other hand, a simple task tracker for work could be difficult to learn and use due to unnecessary functionality.
- Missing Functionality – Even an affordable, user-friendly project tracker may not help if it doesn’t have the capabilities you need it to. Project software that’s great for another business niche may not be right for yours.
A final drawback many project trackers have in common is that they still require manual data entry by the software user.
Similar to tracking projects in Excel, using a project tracking app could potentially introduce new inefficiencies and wasted time into your workflow. And as we already know this is the opposite of what you’re trying to achieve.
Why an AI Project Tracker Is the Best Project Tracker
Even though there are some disadvantages to using Excel or certain apps for project tracking, it’s still very valuable to track your projects — the trick is to track your projects intelligently.
Technological advances are making artificial intelligence or AI project trackers the go-to project trackers for individuals and organizations by focusing on workflow automation.
Instead of needing you and your team to manage Excel sheet data entry or click buttons in a project tracker app, automated project trackers can do a lot of the legwork for you.
These project tracker tools work based on triggers. For example, when a task item is moved from an “in-progress” status to a “completed” status, the software can trigger an action, such as sending the task to a manager for approval or automatically notifying key stakeholders.
Automated triggers have many uses, such as notifying you when a task reaches 100% or its task status is updated, or sending an alert when a task goes over time or over budget.
AI project trackers save little bits of time that quickly add up, especially when you don’t have to think about the distraction of managing your projects manually and can just focus on your work.
Workflow automation also reduces errors and forgetfulness, since reminders and alerts can be sent automatically.
What Features to Look for in an AI Task Tracker for Work
When it comes to choosing an AI task tracker for work, there are definitely some features you’ll want to make sure to have, beyond the basics of task tracking and workflow automation.
Action Item Tracker Functionality
Being able to create, manage and monitor tasks for each project is a must. With action item tracker functionality, you should be able to monitor a task item from start to finish and record the information.
Team Project Tracking Capability
Even if you’re handling projects solo right now, the ability to collaborate is a must. Team project tracking is a feature designed to improve collaboration. This feature will make it possible for you to exchange information, share tasks and receive updates.
Alerts and Notifications Features
The ability to send and receive reminders, alerts and notifications is a must for a project tracker. With an AI project tracker, you should also look for features that can automate the updates and share them automatically.
Multiple Project Tracker Options
Most professionals are juggling several projects at once and managing the task’s resources for all of them is important. Look for a multiple project tracker tool that can handle everything you need it to handle.
Project Tracking Free Trial
It may not be an essential feature, but a free trial is a huge help when you consider investing in new software. With Folio, you get a free trial with up to three projects to help you make your decision.
Folio also includes the other features you need in an AI project tracker. Advanced AI powers workflow automation, team project collaboration, automated notifications, and action item tracking for multiple projects.
Folio helps to solve the problems you can face with other project trackers that waste your time by forcing you to learn new software. Some project trackers may even require you to create spreadsheets, key in data, or manually manage your tasks.
Unlike other project trackers, Folio is an email add-on that lives in your Gmail or Outlook inbox. Folio uses an AI-powered algorithm to prompt you to create projects and tasks as you work. It’s like having your own assistant do all the task tracking for you.
Without a doubt, project trackers are essential for improving workflow and maximizing efficiency. But if you’re still using spreadsheets or keying in data manually, it’s time for an upgrade.
You’re best off using a smart project tracking tool with AI functionality, such as Folio, to get insights into project progress.
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