Nowadays, it is a tough task to monitor and control the project effectively. I am sure every one of us adopts so many methodologies to keep our control on the project. But apart from this control, almost 70% of the project fails miserably. And if the project is completed successfully – either you have taken more money to finish the same (i.e., over-budgeted) or you have taken more time to finish the same (i.e., behind schedule). Both situations are poor for a project manager. So, the bottom line is what the project manager should do to save this bad situation in the project? It is not an easy work to control the pricing, scheduling, and scope for the project. These three project constraints will always create a problem for your project. Be alert! If you are good in maintaining these three baselines (Scope baselines, schedule baselines, and cost performance baselines); you are doing excellent.
So, how to maintain these baselines? How to control the project effectively, so that you can finish the project within the baselines? PMBOK® Guide (Project Management Body of Knowledge) recommends some standard processes to control and monitor the project successfully. Let me explain to you the steps in project monitoring and control in brief.
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Importance of Project Monitoring and Control
Project monitoring and control seamless execution of tasks, and helps improve efficiency and productivity of the project. Monitoring allows you to control the project including completing the project on time.
Gathering timely data allows managers to make informed decisions and take advantage of opportunities and any changes that need to be can be made beforehand, reducing significant time waste.
Monitoring and Control Method
The monitoring and control process of a project allows managers to establish effective project timelines including scope, budget and schedule. This information can then be used to monitor the progress of the project throughout its lifecycle.
A good monitor and control method is a Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) that breaks down a large project into tasks and subtasks, making it easier to manage and evaluate a project. It also makes it easier for a manager to detect any issues that may prop up and control the project more efficiently.
A work breakdown structure looks something like this:
Monitoring and Control Techniques
There are multiple monitoring and control techniques that can be used by project managers including:
A Requirements Traceability Matrix (RTM)
An RTM allows managers to map or trace the project’s requirements and deliverables. It correlates the relationship between two baseline documents. It makes the tasks more visible and allows no new tasks to be added without approval.
A Control Chart
A control chart monitors the project’s quality. There are two basic forms of control chart - a univariate control chart and a multivariate chart. A univariate control chart shows only one project characteristic at a time, while a multivariate control chart shows multiple characteristics.
Review and Status Meetings
This technique allows managers and stakeholders to remain on the same page and analyze the project to highlight major changes or any problems that arise. They can also highlight any issues that may arise during later stages.
Why Is It Important to Monitor And Control Projects?
A lot happens during a project, including multiple unexpected changes and issues that arise. Any good project manager can tell you that while meeting deadlines is important, understanding a project from start to finish is far more crucial.
Monitoring and control is an effective way to understand at what stage a project is currently at, the changes that the project is going through, any issues that need to be dealt with immediately, and any quality control that needs to happen.
With updated information at every stage, managers can make informed decisions to correct problems at the very beginning and even avoid any potential problems that may arise in the future. They can also ensure that the project strikes the perfect balance between cost, quality, and deadline.
Monitor and Control Project Work and Perform Integrated Change Control
After project planning, you have to start working on the project as per the planning, and now it is high time for you to check whether you are working in the same way as planned. As initially, you have planned your project as per the available information in hand (Rolling Wave Planning), it is obvious that there will be a change in the project as work progresses (That’s why planning is iterative in nature and progressively elaborated). Good quality project managers always look for avoiding the changes and controls them effectively, if it occurs, balancing the baselines. Discuss with the consultants, other SMEs, senior management, or any other project stakeholders, including your customer and try to find out a solution. Change is required but not always mandatory. Don’t entertain the change request that has nothing to do with project requirement.
Verify Scope and Control Scope
Verify scope generally comes after perform quality control. When your project deliverable is accepted from quality control, it will move to verify scope stage. Your customer will verify the scope whether the deliverable fulfills the entire requirement and if it is correct at that point, the deliverable will be transitioned to the customer site. If not, again, the deliverable needs to revisit in the production stage. As a project manager, you should control the scope throughout the project life cycle. It is not like when a deliverable is ready then only you will start to control the product; it is an all-time process. You should be extra careful so that scope requirement could not slip from your hand.
Control Schedule and Control Cost
Through Earned Value Management (EVM), you should control the schedule and cost for your project. You know your CPI (Cost Performance Index) and SPI (Schedule Performance Index), and based on the result of CPI and SPI, you can monitor and control the project. If your CPI is in positive or more than 1, you are good in project cost incurred, and if the SPI is in positive or more than 1, you are good in the schedule (Refer to Cost Management Knowledge Area, PMBOK® Guide).
Perform Quality Control
Before delivering the product to the customer, you need to cross-check whether you are delivering the product with the quality required by the customer. For this, you can seek the help of so many quality tools or quality processes, like Root Cause Analysis, Pareto Chart, Control Chart, Histograms, etc.
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As you are managing a large project with several numbers of stakeholders, you need to update the project status to every responsible stakeholder. Mainly you need to update the project progress report like – where you are in the project progress? What will be forecasting for your project?
Risk can be anytime and anywhere in your project. As a project manager, you can not say that you will check risk only in the monitoring and controlling stage. Obviously not!!! Risk should be measured just after the project has been started. It is an all-time task for the project manager.
If you are subcontracting any process to some other party, you need to monitor their performance also in a well-timed manner. Based on their performance, project fate could be decided. So, don’t take it lightly. It is the project manager’s sole responsibility to monitor and control the work of subcontractors too.
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