The Monitor and Control phase of your project consists of reviewing your project against the approved plans to identify variations from the plan (monitoring) and then taking corrective action (controlling). You might prefer to think of these activities as "Inspect and Correct.
Of course first there needs to be a plan to monitor and control. The project plan serves as the basis for monitoring and controlling. By following the plan, and gathering relevant data, information will become available to:
< accurately identify issues and problems
< minimize risk impacts and severities
< control and report progress
< keep you 'in the know'
< motivate others. They know someone is checking
< minimize surprises: for ourselves, clients and others
For a review of planning, CLICK HERE.
In reality, you will be monitoring and controlling through-out the life cycle of your project. As soon as some element of your project is planned you will begin to monitor "How is it going?" and controlling to bring that element back on track.
First we will look at some key tips for Monitoring & Controlling any knowledge area. Then we will look at specifics for each knowledge area. Here are the 12 key tips for Monitoring and Controlling.
1. Monitor on a regular basis, and list those monitoring activities in your pre-planned schedule to ensure they don't get skipped over. What you don't know will hurt you. Typical times to monitor can be time-based such as daily, weekly, monthly; or they can be activity/milestone based such as at 50% completion, 75% and 100% completion.
2. Know what to look for. Monitoring requires a measurement against a plan. Be sure to know what the expected value is supposed to be. For Time, how far along should we be? For Quality, how far off the specified value is tolerable? Use a checklist of special things to check for.
3. Keep good notes. An observation that seems like a small variation today might develop into something much larger in the future. Your documentation will be extremely valuable in these cases. Notes not taken aren't worth the paper they're not written on!
4. When monitoring reveals that the project is off track, quickly analyse the size and the impact of the variances and then limit the damages. This is the "first aid" part of controlling where you need to 'stop the bleeding' and give time to determine the best course of action.
5. Take a moment to ask the following:
a) Is this project still needed?
b) Is the Project Objective still the right one to
address the Project Need?
c) Are the assumptions still valid?
If the answer to any of these questions is "No", it could be necessary to re-work the project plan or to scrap the project all together.
6. Determine if the identified variations are internal or external. Internal variations are within the authority of the project team to correct.
Examples of internal variations may include:
a) Activities are behind schedule or missed
b) Certain activities are over budget
c) Performance of deliverables not meeting success criteria
Examples of external variations may include:
a) the technology does not work
b) the client changed their mind
c) a recent change in regulation
7. Quickly involve your team and your other Key Stakeholders. Do not wait until you have a solution; make them part of the solution. Team members and other Key Stakeholders have the ability to promote corrective actions by shifting business priorities, and reaffirming their support for your project. If not involved early, this support becomes harder to obtain. More reasons to involve Key Stakeholders in Monitoring and Controlling are:
a) Those who helped make the plan are best
equipped to correct the problem.
c) You will have more people thinking toward a solution
b) To ensure there are "No surprises" for your Stakeholders
8. Look to your Risk Management Plan to see if the identified variations were anticipated and what Risk Responses were to be implemented.
9. Search for alternate solutions. Usually there is more than one way to address a problem. Your Stakeholders can help you to Brainstorm possible solutions. Look at the Cost / Benefit of each alternate.
10. When possible, find and correct the Root Cause of the problem so it doesn't keep coming back. Don't just solve the problem, get rid of it! If the root cause is not clear use Brainstorming with a Cause & Effect diagram. Then use Pareto analysis to decide what to change. Make the change; then re-evaluate. "If nothing changes, nothing changes."
11. If the variations are major, consider developing a "Recovery Plan Project" which would be a separately planned, monitored, and controlled mini-project, managed the same way as any other project.
12. Resist the temptation to 'borrow' contingency from future activities. Preserve the floats and contingencies of future activities as much as possible; those future activities are still largely unknown.
Very helpful Monitoring and Controlling Tips and Tools are available for several of the knowledge areas so be sure you CLICK HERE to PROCEED.
As a Professional Project Manager, you might be expected to conduct an audit or to participate in an audit conducted by someone outside of the project team. While we might first think about financial matters when we say "audit," in project management we can audit any process. We can think of this audit being a measure of the Process Quality. The process audit is conducted to answer 2 questions:
1. Are the established processes being followed?
2. Are the established processes yielding the desired results?
Ideally an audit is a collaborative effort aimed at improving the adherence to the processes, and/or aimed at altering the processes for improved effectiveness.
Process Quality, and the tools for auditing are found under Quality Assurance when you CLICK HERE.
REMEMBER: You get what you inspect!
TIP: Bring peer pressure to monitoring. Practice public accountability where each responsible member needs to report their progress to the whole team.