Simple tools to start.

There are several ways to measure your goals, ranging from simple to complex and free to expensive. Sometimes it makes sense to spend money on tools, but when setting goals for your own purposes, keeping it low cost makes sense. For instance, it would be smart to use a simple spreadsheet when starting out. Most people associate Microsoft Excel with spreadsheets, however, it costs money. There are also free alternatives, such as Open Office or Google Sheets.

Level up when you're ready.

Sometimes, you will need more sophisticated tools. For instance, when you work on multiple projects at the same time and you may have tiered steps associated with your goals. You’ll need to have a better method than a spreadsheet to manage these. This is also true when you have multiple people and you need to measure each of their contributions to the projects. While you could use spreadsheets for this, they are not as elegant for collaborative projects. The reporting features are lacking in a spreadsheet program. Programs such as Microsoft Project or Basecamp give you more control over these types of features.

Use measurement tools with others.

Other factors to consider when measuring goals is workflow. When someone on your team updates a document, you want the entire team to know about it simultaneously. Otherwise, you will need to be constantly coordinating changes to documents or other assets within the project. This can become a full-time job by itself. Keep in mind that the tool cannot run the projects for you. They have their uses, but the responsibility rests with you, or the project manager. Also, include some flexibility in the measurement, as not every item will go according to plan. Be sure to make room for some adjustments along the way.

Measurement pitfalls to watch for.

Being too rigid with the plan can cause problems within a team. Strict adherence to a tool will make the projects rigid, by definition. You need some ways to measure the goals accurately. It’s a delicate balance that requires compassion and firmness. When choosing a tool, try to get your team involved, so they know what to expect. This isn’t always possible, as some companies already have solutions implemented. If this is the case, you will need to manage the expectations of the team and provide any training and help needed to make the tool work for them.

There are many excellent tools available. The above options are only just a few of the more well-known choices. A quick Google search would bring you many alternate options with varying features and price points. Be sure to compare your options and then decide what works best for your projects and goals.

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