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Project Management

Project Control
Dr Rajshree Mootanah, B Tech (Hons) Mechanical Engineering, M Phil, MBA, PhD

Introduction
Control is a critical part of the project management process;
Planning & controlling interlinked: control is the act of reducing the difference between plan
and reality;
Plans can never be perfect so control is inevitable;
Control identifies changes to plan that may require re-planning;
Monitoring - measuring, reporting and where necessary taking appropriate action;
The control element of project management is a common theme throughout the lifetime of the
project.

Who controls the project during its lifetime?


Control is by those holding power to make decisions;
Responsibility for control for project elements must be clearly assigned;
For PM to have effective control, PM must have responsibility, authority
and resolve;
Cost & time planners = providers of information but not controllers.

What is controlled? - Part 1


Performance
Unexpected technical problems
Client requires changes in specifications
Inter-functional complications
Costs
Initial estimates too low
Reporting was poor or untimely
Budgeting was inadequate
Input price changes occurred

What is controlled? - Part 2


Time
Initial time estimates incorrect
Task sequencing incorrect
Preceding tasks incomplete
Quality
Technical quality
External quality requirements
Internal quality standards
Customer expectations

What is controlled?
Scope
Control of the project scope ensures that - 1) any changes are only implemented after a thorough
investigation and, 2) there is full awareness of their impact;
Scope change is defined as any modification to the scope as defined in the approved Work Breakdown
Structure.
Risk
Controlling risk involves "executing risk management plans in order to respond to risk events over the
course of the project;"
Risks are dynamic so risk management strategies are continually monitored and they enable a response
to unplanned risks that occur.
Team
This involves controlling the members of the project team and often requires making sure that there is
team motivation, enthusiasm and direction that are kept throughout the project.

Project Controls - The Steps


The project manager must decide:
At what points in the project will control be exerted;
What is to be controlled;
How much deviation from the plan will be tolerated before action is required;
What kind of intervention should be used.
Controlling the project is aimed at ensuring that the objectives are met by
monitoring & measuring progress and taking corrective action when
necessary.

Step 1 - Establish baselines


In effect, this is part of planning. Control needs planned benchmarks. Typical baselines include:
Cost (budgets)
Time (schedules)
Performance (specifications, quality plan)
Scope (WBS)
Changes to baselines are only made after review & approval by using change control system.
Baseline plans updated as authorised changes occur.
All appropriate stakeholders notified of authorised changes.

Step 2 - Monitor & measure


performance
Project progress measured regularly to identify variances from plan
Collect accurate information related to baselines, e.g.:
Percentage of completion;
Cost expended;
Quality tests;
Scope change reports.
Timely collection of this data is critical and will be an ongoing activity throughout the
duration of the project life-cycle.

Step 3 - Compare performance to


baselines
Contrast actual performance against planned performance - variance
analysis;
Formulation of progress reports and forecasts to completion;
Tools - earned value, cash flow analysis, schedule appraisal;
Causes & effects analysed and understood.

Step 4 - Take corrective action


Control is more than just monitoring & reporting and often means evaluating consequences
of deviations from the plan & acting upon them.
Once deviations are identified then corrective action, if necessary, is taken. The options
available to the project manager include:

No action taken if the variances are small;


Re-planning activities to recover the ambitions of the original plan;
Revising the original plan in light of the current situation;
In extreme situations terminating the project;
Causes of change and reasons for selected corrective action should be documented.

Basic options for corrective action


1. Find Alternative Solution - rearrange workload, or do work in different order, or in an alternative way whilst
not impacting on TCQS;
2. Compromise Cost:

Put in more resources or effort, from existing resources (e.g. working overtime, increasing
productivity);

The input of new resources;

Redeploy existing resources (e.g. talented to critical area);

3. Compromise Time - move milestone date;


4. Compromise Quality;
5. Compromise Scope - lower level of ambition.

Types of project control methods


Pre-Action / Prevention Control
Control can be proactive - preventive action taken in anticipation of problems;
Prevent deviations before work begins by establishing conditions that will make
deviations difficult to occur.
Steering Controls
Detect deviations after work has begun but before completion. This keeps
activities on track. Adjustments to deviations are done quickly;
Corrective action while project is still viable, e.g., supervision of operatives & give
advice when problems arise.

Types of project control methods


Go/No go controls
Within the project environment there will be the need to implement a set of critical
go/no-go points at which progress is assessed;
Screening devices may be used, where pre-conditions are checked against
desirable outputs at a specific point in the project lifecycle;
The advantage of these systems is that they can be used on almost every aspect of
a project;
Problems to be detected & dealt with before project goes astray, e.g., a major
control point using go/no-go would be the interface between deliverable
development and implementation.

Post-Action Controls
These focus on end-results of a project;
Deviations identified, causes are determined, which form part of the lessons learned as
part of the project and may be used during future projects.
Comparisons are made at this point between the final outputs of the project and those
outputs desired at the conceptual and initial stages of the project. These may include:
- Project objectives - description of the project objectives;
- Milestones & budgets - comparison between plan and actual;
- Final report on project results - significant deviations, good and bad, described &
explained;
- Recommendations - regarding how process of future projects can be improved.

Behavioural aspects of controlling


Difficult to control without appearing to 'butt-in' on efforts of members. If people
feel over-managed, they lose ownership for their work;
Members must realise purpose of control is not to wield a stick, to apportion
blame, or to punish the guilty;
Purpose is to control work, not workers - "the objective is to get the work done,
not make workers "toe the line;"
Any feedback should be task-related, clearly justified, unemotional;
Most people accept the need for control - e.g., pilot & air traffic control.

Behavioural aspects of controlling


The project manager can manage people within the control process:
Use Linear Responsibility Chart (LRCs) to understand relationships of
project members;
Be a strong advocate for project and interact frequently with project
members to build trust;
Discover & utilise "informal" organisation to influence morale & loyalty;
Develop communication with people who can provide greater insight into
project's progress.

Project Quality Management


Throughout the lifetime of the project there is a requirement placed upon the project manager to
ensure that the processes & outputs of the project are undertaken or produced to an acceptable
quality.
The International Standardisation for Organisation (ISO) defines quality as:
The totality of characteristics of an entity that bear on its ability to satisfy stated or implied needs.
Other definitions of quality are based on such criteria as:
Conformance to requirements;
Meeting written specifications;
Fitness for use;
Ensuring a product can be use as it was intended.

Project Quality Management


To ensure that outputs of the project meet the expectations of the customer, the project manager
must be responsible for the ongoing processes of quality management.
In practice the processes associated with the management of quality within project environments
include:
Quality planning: identifying which quality standards are relevant to the project and how to satisfy
them;
Quality assurance: evaluating overall project performance to ensure the project will satisfy the
relevant quality standards;
Quality control: monitoring specific project results to ensure that they comply with the relevant
quality standards while identifying ways to improve overall quality.

Project Quality Management


1.Modern quality management:
Requires customer satisfaction;
Prefers prevention to inspection;
Recognises management responsibility for quality;
2. Within a project structure it is the individual project team member that has ultimate responsibility
for the quality of their work and therefore output.
3.The Project Manager has the overall or primary responsibility for the quality of the project
activities and project outputs.
4.The project sponsor will have responsibility on behalf of the client organisation and very often will
be responsible, in conjunction with the project manager, for determining the desirable quality
standards of the project.

Benefits of a formal Quality System


The intention of any quality of any quality management process or system is to confer benefits
to the project team, the project manager and ultimately the project sponsor or client
organisation. Quality Systems should aim therefore to:
Create a quality culture and quality awareness;
Reduce rework and error rate resulting in increased cost savings and speeding project
completion;
Provide continuous work process improvement and streamlines operations
Create more effective communications
Provide confidence to management that intended quality is being achieved and sustained
Improve productivity and profitability.

Project Quality Planning


It is important within project planning activities to design and communicate important factors that
directly contribute to meeting the customer's requirements.
Design of experiments or pilot schemes can help identify which variables(s) will have the most
influence on the overall outcome of a process or highlight possible quality issues with product
deliverables.
Many scope aspects of projects can affect the overall quality of project output including:
Functionality;
Features;
Performance;
Reliability;
Maintainability.

Project Quality Assurance


Quality assurance includes all the activities related to satisfying the relevant
quality standards for a project.
Another goal of quality assurance is that of continuous quality improvement.
Benchmarking the quality activities of the project team against industry best
practices can be used to generate ideas for quality improvements.
Quality audits help identify good practice as well as lessons learned throughout
project activities which can then contribute to improving performance on
current or future projects.

Project Quality Control


Therefore, the desirable outputs from a quality control process are focused on:
Quality improvement;
Acceptance decisions - items inspected will either be accepted or rejected.
Rejected items may need rework;
Rework - action taken to bring a defective or nonconforming item into compliance
with requirements or specifications;
Completed checklists - become part of project's records;
Process adjustments - immediate corrective or preventive action, in accordance
with change control procedures.

Project Quality Management - Costs


There are five main cost categories related to quality:
Prevention cost: the cost of planning and executing a project so it is error-free or within an
acceptable error range;
Appraisal cost: the cost of evaluating processes and their outputs to ensure quality;
Internal failure cost: cost incurred to correct an identified defect before the customer received the
product;
External failure cost: cost that relates to all errors not detected and corrected before delivery to
the customer;
Measurement and test equipment costs: capital cost of equipment used to perform prevention
and appraisal activities.

Administrative Closure
Administrative closure involves:
1. Verifying and documenting project results to formalise acceptance of the
products produced;
2. Collecting project records;
3. Ensuring products meet specifications;
4. Analysing whether the project was successful and effective in respect of
its terms of reference and its stakeholder requirements;
5. Archiving project information for future use.

Terminating the Project


Termination activities should be identified as part of the baseline plan.
In order for the project to be effectively terminated, there is a need to determine that all agreed-on
deliverables were provided.
The purpose of properly terminating a project is to learn from the experience in order to improve
performance on future projects.
Assure that all payments have been collected from the customer.
Assure that all payments for materials and subcontractors have been paid.
Prepare a written performance evaluation of each member of the project team.
Hold post-project evaluation meetings.
Celebrate.

Internal Post-Project Evaluation


Have individual meetings with team members and a group meeting with the project team;
Hold soon after the completion;
Announce meeting in advance so people can be prepared;
Individual meetings allow team members to give their personal impressions;
Develop an agenda for a group meeting;
Group meeting should discuss performance and recommendations for improvement;
Issue a brief written report to management with a summary and the recommendations.

Customer Feedback
Meet to discuss whether the project provided the customer with the anticipated benefits, assess the
level of client satisfaction and obtain any feedback;
Participants include the project manager, key project team members, and key representatives of the
customer;
Ensure that there is sufficient opportunity to allow stakeholders to comment on the project. In this way,
clients can express their level of satisfaction and provide detailed comments;
If the client is satisfied with the project:

Ask about other projects you could do - perhaps without going through a competitive Request For
Proposal process

Ask permission to use the client as a reference

Get feedback regarding satisfaction through a post-project client evaluation survey.

Early Project Termination


This will occur if:

Research shows costs will be much more than originally anticipated;

There is a change in a company's financial situation;

There is customer dissatisfaction.

Wherever possible the PM should try to avoid early termination due to customer
dissatisfaction by monitoring the activities/products of the project in order to try to
continually meet customer satisfaction and where necessary taking correction
action.

End