Why Project Data Hygiene Matters

Justin Zack
3 min readMar 9, 2022
Image by author courtesy of Canva.com

I recently sat in a product wide status meeting. This is a meeting comprised of team leaders across 10 different teams.

Not a small meeting.

The purpose of the meeting is twofold:

  1. Create visibility across teams
  2. Unblock teams that are stuck

It’s a new discipline at the company, so the team is still figuring out how to make such a large meeting productive. The meeting is held weekly. Each week improvements to the meeting are made based on feedback from participants.

During the meeting each time has the opportunity to run through the status of each of their projects. It’s a typical conversation centered on Red, Yellow, Green status with a conversation about why and what’s being done to course correct.

Now, here is where things go off the rails.

Leaders hyper-focus on the details of what is being presented.

They ask questions about why something is done, but still has open tickets. Or how a project can be green if less than 25% of the work is complete and there is one week left to go until the launch date.

The conversation shifts from what is being said, to the quality of the information that is being presented.

From the leaders perspective the data doesn’t match the words of the messenger. They immediately lost trust in the message and then want to focus on the “system of record”.

So, as a leader, what should you rely on more? the data or your people? Both are important, but reality is rooted in the people who are doing the work. Maybe they haven’t moved there work from one status to the next, maybe they forget to capture a particular piece of work.

And this is where project tracking systems fail. The quality of the tracking system is highly dependent on the level with which the tool is used.

If you are in a high growth company, work moves fast and often the system of record is the last thing to know what’s happening. People update the system as a…

Justin Zack

Project leader. Product thinker. Write about human things. Find me at justinzack.com