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Scheduling and tracking program progress

Part of the Responsibilities section.

Scheduling and tracking program progress is an essential part of program management. By scheduling the program's tasks and tracking its progress, program managers can ensure that the program stays on track and meets its goals.

Gantt chart in wooden blocks

Photo by Volodymyr Hryshchenko on Unsplash

There are a number of different ways to schedule and track program progress. Some common methods include:

  • Gantt charts: Gantt charts are a visual representation of the program's schedule. They show the start and finish dates of each task, as well as the dependencies between tasks.
  • Critical path analysis: Critical path analysis (CPA) is a technique that identifies the critical tasks in a program. These are the tasks that must be completed on time in order for the program to be completed on time.
  • Project management software: There are a number of different program management software programs available. These programs can help program managers to schedule and track the program's tasks, as well as to communicate with stakeholders.

Example of a Gantt chart:

gantt title A Gantt Chart dateFormat YYYY-MM-DD section First section Task A :a1, 2024-01-02, 7d Task B :after a1 , 5d section Second section Task C :2024-01-08 , 4d Task D : 5d

The best way to schedule and track program progress will vary depending on the specific program. However, there are a few general principles that program managers should follow:

  • Be realistic: The program's schedule should be realistic. It should take into account the time required to complete each task, as well as the dependencies between tasks.
  • Be flexible: The program's schedule should be flexible. It should be able to accommodate changes to the program's scope or schedule.
  • Be proactive: Project managers should be proactive in tracking the program's progress. They should monitor the program's tasks and identify any potential risks or problems.

Scheduling and tracking program progress is an essential part of program management. By following the principles outlined above, program managers can ensure that their programs stay on track and meet their goals.

Here are some additional tips for scheduling and tracking program progress:

  • Set realistic milestones: Milestones are important for tracking program progress. They should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. Also known as SMART goals (see sidebar below.)
  • Communicate regularly with stakeholders: Stakeholders should be kept informed of the program's progress. This can be done through regular status reports, meetings, or emails.
  • Be prepared to make changes: The program's schedule and scope may need to be changed as the program progresses. Be prepared to make these changes if necessary.
  • Celebrate successes: As the program progresses, take the time to celebrate successes. This will help to motivate the team and keep them focused on the program's goals.

In the context of program management, setting clear and actionable goals is crucial to the success of any program. SMART goals are a well-established framework that helps ensure that program objectives are defined in a way that is both comprehensive and achievable. By adhering to the SMART criteria, Technical Program Managers (TPMs) can more effectively manage program deliverables and guide their teams towards success. Let's explore the definition of SMART goals and their importance in program management.


The first element of SMART goals is specificity. A specific goal is clear, concise, and unambiguous, leaving no room for misunderstanding. It answers questions like "What needs to be accomplished?", "Why is this goal important?", and "How will it be achieved?" By setting specific goals, TPMs ensure that all team members and stakeholders have a shared understanding of the program's objectives and expectations.


Measurable goals can be quantified and tracked, allowing for a clear assessment of progress and success. By establishing measurable criteria for the program's deliverables, TPMs can more effectively monitor their team's performance and make data-driven decisions to keep the program on track. Measurable goals might include metrics such as deadlines, cost savings, or specific performance indicators.


A goal should be realistic and attainable, taking into account the program's constraints, resources, and limitations. Setting achievable goals ensures that the program remains feasible and prevents team members from becoming overwhelmed or disheartened. Achievable goals also encourage a sense of accomplishment and motivation, which can lead to increased productivity and commitment to the program.


Relevant goals are directly aligned with the program's overall objectives and priorities, as well as the organization's strategic goals. By ensuring that goals are relevant, TPMs can maintain focus on what matters most and avoid deviating from the program's intended purpose. This alignment is essential for maximizing the program's impact and ensuring that it delivers meaningful value to the organization.


Finally, SMART goals are time-bound, meaning that they have a defined start and end date. By establishing clear deadlines, TPMs create a sense of urgency and accountability, helping to prevent procrastination and keep the program moving forward. Time-bound goals also provide a clear framework for assessing the program's progress and determining whether adjustments are needed to stay on track.

In conclusion, SMART goals are an invaluable tool for TPMs, providing a clear and actionable framework for defining program deliverables and guiding their teams towards success. By embracing the SMART criteria, TPMs can ensure that their programs remain focused, measurable, and aligned with their organization's strategic goals.