Monitoring and controlling is a traditional and mandatory topic in project management practices. This is a continuous process of monitoring and controlling the project variables. The project manager plays a key role in this phase.
Planning is a fundamental component of project management. A detailed plan covering the technological, budgetary, programmatic, organizational, and risk countries is essential to facilitate coordination between the parties. Even the best plans cannot guarantee success. The plans are based on needs assessments and factors such as duration of work, availability of resources, labor efficiency, and cost, each of which can be subject to a high degree of variability.
During the project life cycle, new technologies are developed, the re-evaluation of the overall strategy, the replacement of key personnel, the new market, or legal circumstances can be combined to make the original plan obsolete. There is therefore a fundamental need to monitor actual progress and to keep the original plans up to date.
The creation and implementation of a control system
The creation and implementation of a project control system is, therefore, an important part of its management work. The basis of each control system is a balance of project objectives and their relative importance. One or more performance criteria are required for each such purpose. Appropriate performance criteria may be based on the actual start or end time of critical activities, the completion of stages, or the timing of the admission test.
The choice of performance criteria depends on the relevant objective and the rank of management to which the actual values of the performance criteria will be reported. Thus, a low-ranking manager who is responsible for a specific group of activities can request detailed information about these activities. The project manager may be interested in tracking the actual completion time of critical activities, while senior management may be interested in information on the completion time of the main stages. Reference: “Monitoring and controlling program execution”, https://bvop.org/learn/monitoring-controlling-program/
Value of performance criteria
Once the performance criteria have been selected, the required information for the real value report for each performance criterion must be determined. For example, the completion of a stage may be reported upon successful completion of the acceptance sample and the transmission of the relevant quality control report. The same stage can be reported as completed only after the payment by the client based on the completion of the stage. The choice of appropriate criteria and the collection of data for their implementation is not insignificant and the effort to use the available data from existing systems is always justified. This reduces data collection costs and minimizes the problem of data conflicts in the project control system and other management information systems. Reference: “Monitoring and Controlling in Project management presented with real scenario examples“, https://www.polyscm.com/monitoring-and-controlling-in-project-management-examples/
The collected data is used as a basis for calculating the current value of the performance criteria and for predicting their future values based on past performance. Estimates of current values are the basis of “real” control. Reference: “Monitoring and control over the project implementation”, https://wikipedia-lab.org/monitoring-and-control-over-the-project-implementation/
This type of control is achieved by comparing the real value of the performance criteria with the planned one. Control limits are set to determine the degree of deviation. Deviations that are greater than the predetermined value are used as a point for corrective work. This type of control is based on the notion of management through exceptions, where actual deviations from the plans direct management to a specific problem that needs to be addressed. The second method of control is traffic control, which is based on forecasts of criteria for future work. The actual values of the performance criteria are extrapolated to the future with the intention of detecting deviations before they occur. Forecasts of future deviations are an element of preventive activities designed to minimize future problems. This method of traffic control is important, as information on the current values of the performance criteria may not reveal irregularities, but the movement of data during the last few control periods may prove the possibility of future problems.
The designer of the project control system must answer the following questions:
- What performance criteria should be chosen?
- What data should be used to calculate the current value of each performance criterion?
- How will raw data be collected, from what sources, and with what frequency?
- How will the data be analyzed to detect current and future deviations?
- How will the results of the analysis be reported, in what form, to whom, and how often?
The answers to these questions are the basis for building the data set of the control system, data processing, and information dissemination functions.
The control over the project during its life cycle is performed by the manager, who uses the information from the control system as a basis for a decision-making process aimed at keeping the project in motion.
Several criteria can be made to support project control. They can be classified into four categories: program, value, resource, and performance.
The designer of the project control system can be one of the following roles:
- Project manager
- Project Director
- Program manager
All these roles can also together be the participants who created the project control and monitoring system.