MONITOR & CONTROL
How do I manage the overwhelming number of issues that need my time? How I deal with the things that are going wrong? How do I determine the true state of my project? How can I stay on top of things?
These are questions we all ask ourselves from time to time. The fact is, by having a good method and tools for monitoring and controlling (M&C), the answers to these questions become much simpler. Lets' see how this works!
DEFINITION Monitoring: Collecting project performance data, producing measurable information, reporting and distributing the results.
DEFINITION Controlling: Comparing actual performance with planned performance, analyzing variations, assessing trends, evaluating alternatives, and recommending corrective action.
This is the "Work your Plan", part of "Plan your work and work your plan". Plans need to be worked. You cannot just sit back and watch it happen. You need information to know when you are off track, and then you need to take corrective (controlling) action to get back on track.
Note this Carefully: Monitoring and Controlling has to be more than simply revising your plan to suit the current conditions, such as extending the schedule or increasing the budget. M&C must be aimed at bringing the project back to the planned and approved baseline outcomes.
Success at Monitoring and Controlling begins with a good Project Plan, and a clear Project Objective. The better the plan is, the easier M&C will be. M&C is much more difficult when the Project Objective is vague or changing. It's like trying to hit a moving target. Your well developed and documented plans will:
protect your project's integrity, serving as constant references, and
provide baselines against which to monitor and measure current performance
Here are some examples of Planning tools that are used for Monitoring:
1) Use specifications, drawings, and maps to monitor Scope
2) Use schedules to monitor Time
3) Use budgets and cost estimates to monitor Cost
These Monitoring and Controlling Tools are great for every project.
a) FIELD REPORT:
These "fill-in-the-blank" type of reports help ensure the monitoring does not leave anything out.
Field Reports need to be: Timely, Economical to produce, Comprehensive, Providing balanced information
They would be submitted from the Field Inspector the Project Manager before a review meeting
The Project Manager integrates this information with other reports to get the whole picture MORE
b) RUN CHART
Particularly useful to track Quality
Run charts are also known as Trend charts, and are used to show trends in data over time.
All processes vary, so single point measurements can be misleading. Displaying data over time increases understanding of the real performance of a process, particularly with regard to an established target or goal
Useful to answer questions like
1. How much better or worse is the problem?
2. Where will we end up? MORE
c) MEETING AGENDA
Issue well in advance of the meeting
Hold people accountable for getting their part done MORE
d) REVIEW MEETINGS:
Decide if your meeting will be Decision making or Informational
Have a clear meeting objective and tell all participants what that is
Set meeting dates and stick to them
Select a meeting location with fewest disruptions
Invite the right number of participants
For decision making meetings participants must have the authority to speak for their department, be knowledgeable in their subject matter, be able to make decisions. MORE
e) ACTION PLAN:
After monitoring, and discovering some part of your project is off track, you need a recovery plan. The Action Plan is a simple spreadsheet format, for short term planning that works perfectly for these times. You Action Plan should contain:
1. The Problem(s)
2. Action Steps
3. Person Responsible
4. Due Date MORE
Several other very useful tips and tools are available for Monitoring and Controlling. Click the buttons below for all these helps.
Monitor and Control STAKEHOLDER ENGAGEMENT
Monitor and Control SCOPE
Monitor and Control TIME
Monitor and Control COST
Monitor and Control QUALITY
Monitor and Control HUMAN RESOURCES
Monitor and Control PHYSICAL RESOURCES
Monitor and Control COMMUNICATIONS
Monitor and Control PROCUREMENT
Monitor and Control RISK
Whatever knowledge area is being Monitored and Controlled, 4 key principles will be valuable to you.
1) Keep written reports Simple, Inclusive, and Short.
2) Practice public accountability at project meetings. People are more motivated to complete their tasks if they know they need to report in a meeting.
3) Avoid punishing people for bringing you bad news. This only discourages people from bringing you information you need. Take every opportunity to praise good performance and reinforce those results.
4) When variations are observed, consider more frequent monitoring as you implement corrective actions to get back on track.
While planning a project we imagined the Risks and planned Risk Responses. During execution we analyse the project performance and implement corrective actions.
Monitoring should be done often enough to be effective, on a pre-scheduled basis. Occasionally we are too busy or it is not seen as important enough. Beware! Working on small problems or preventing problems altogether is much less expensive than dealing with issues after they become large. Procrastination leads to worsening situations, and rarely does a problem get better on its own, without some intervention. "Nip it in the bud!"
Monitoring provides the added benefit of giving opportunities to praise the team. Make personal inspections, yourself. Be present. Be visible. Try MBWA (management by walking around).
Controlling is also better done sooner than later. So be decisive and minimize the severity of risks before they become catastrophic.
Some changes in your project are inevitable, so have a method for reviewing and approving / rejecting requested changes.
Let's clear up a misconception. Controlling a project is not done by brute force. Neither is it a slice of magic. Controlling requires well-developed people skills.
Also, Professional Project Managers are comfortable with saying "No" and "I don't know".