RUNNING TOTALS 

             Graphing  for  MONITOR & CONTROL 

                   

RUNNING TOTAL: Sometimes called "Cumulative Total" (think of "accumulate") is the sum of what has happened so far, updated each time a new number is added. Examples are bowling scores, baseball scores, and so on. Running totals let us see "How are we doing so far?" 

 

In Professional Project Management, Running Totals are graphed against Time. 

 

SCOPE Running Total MONITORING

 

As with most projects this one stated out slowly, then increased in pace. (The slope of the line got steeper). However, at day 5 there began a tapering off of progress so by day 8 there was little progress at all.

At this point, look again at your Gantt Chart schedule, which we discussed under Monitoring and Controlling Time. Is your project ahead of schedule, behind, at risk of finishing late? Can you tolerate a reduced pace?

SCOPE Running Total CONTROLLING

To control the Scope running total, look for reasons the progress slowed. Examples are:

  • poor weather

  • worker moral

  • unexpected conditions

  • resources did not arrive on time

      Knowing the reason for the reduced progress will help you find a solution to

      that problem.

SCOPE Running Total 

 

Project Scope gets done over a period of time. It is useful to see how that Scope work is progressing compared to the time gone by. A Running Total Graph is a tool used to illustrate Scope progress over Time.

 

Measuring amount of Scope completed can be simple if the deliverable is measured in discrete units. For example, in a project to deliver 100 widgets, if 25 widgets have been delivered and accepted by the customer, we can say the Scope is 25% complete. In more complex projects, an agreed formula is required to establish percent of Scope complete.

 

In the project "Plan Parade", we  determined that 8% of the Scope was complete after day 1, 17% was complete after day 2, 27% after day 3, and so on. This progress was graphed up to day 8 as shown below.

TIP:  Make your running total graph as you go along, adding to it each day. That way you will not be surprised when it is plotted, but will see the total developing day-by-day.

 

COST Running Total

As Professional Project Managers we are very interested in how the Cost spent compares to the Budget for each item of work or deliverable. However, for interest we will now look at how the Cost spent is progressing compared to the Time gone by, in a Running Total Graph.

 

The amount of Cost spent at a point in time is simply the Cost to Date (CTD) which we discussed under Monitoring and Controlling Cost

 

Recall: In Professional Project Management we work with Allotted Costs. Allotted Cost is the amount of money assigned to a purchase order, or similar purchasing document used in your organization. It is not the amount actually paid out to your vendor. For a brief explanation of this idea, click HERE.

 

In the project "Plan Parade", we spent $400 on day 1, $250 on day 2 for a running total of $650 at day 2, $400 on day 3 for a running total of $1050 on day 3, and so on. This progress was graphed up to day 8 as shown below. Recall, the budget is $2850.

TIP:  Make your running total graph as you go along, adding to it each day. That way you will not be surprised when it is plotted, but will see the total developing day-by-day.

COST Running Total MONITORING

 

As with most projects there was a quick jump in spending near the start, then it tapered off. This is because we are tracking cost allotted to purchase orders, and those purchase orders needed to be issued before the work could begin.

At this point, look again at your Scope running total. Also look at your Gantt Chart schedule, which we discussed under Monitoring and Controlling Time. Is your project ahead of schedule, behind, at risk of finishing late? Is your spending in line with the amount of Scope completed?

COST Running Total CONTROLLING

To control the Cost (CTD) on your project, look for reasons the spending may have increased. Possible reasons are:

  • Estimated costs were low

  • Unexpected conditions were encoutered

  • The lower priced resources were not available

Knowing the reason for an increased Cost will help you find a solution to that problem.

RISK Running Total

Project Risk decreases over a period of time. As more is known about your project, less is unknown, so there are fewer remaining risks. Remember Risk is an uncertain event or condition that, if it occurs, has a positive or negative effect on one or more project objectives.

 

Therefore, as Risk decreases over time, you can continuously reduce the Risk Response you had set aside to cover risks. For example, as the project progresses, and you see there is less likelihood of needing overtime payments, you can reduce the reserve set aside for overtime in your project.

In the section about Risk Management, we qualified and quantified risks, then enacted risk responses to offset the identified risks. For risks whose planned response was "Accept", we planned a Contingent Response Strategy.

A Running Total Graph is the tool used to illustrate Risk reduction over Time. Reserve analysis compares the amount of contingency reserves remaining to the amount of risk remaining at any time in the project in order to determine if the remaining reserve is adequate.

 

 In our project 'Plan a Parade' we started with a contingency reserve fund of $900. By Day 8, only Risk 2 needs contingency funding of possibly $50. As a graph it looks like this.

 

RISK Running Total MONITORING

 

As with most projects the Risk and the Contingency Reserve start off at their highest and they decrease as the project progresses. Some observations can be made:

  • Only $50 remains in the contingency fund.

  • It is only Day 8. The project schedule is 25 days long.

  • It was noted earlier that only one risk (Risk 2) remains. Band quotations are still coming in. We already spent $300 on this risk.

Some questions to ask are:

 

1. Will the remaining $50 be enough to secure the remaining bands?

2. Should we enact our fall back plan of finding an alternate band?

3. Can we reconsider having fewer bands as a work around?

 

 

RISK Running Total CONTROLLING

To control the Risk you enacted your pre-planned Risk Responses. You will now want to monitor carefully:

  • Did the responses properly addresses the Risks?

  • Did any response create a new issue or a new Risk?

  • Make sure that no Risk returns.

TIP:  Make your running total graph as you go along, subtracting from it each day. That way you will not be surprised when it is plotted, but will see the total reducing day-by-day.

Another way to monitor the progress of Scope and Cost against Time is Earned Value Management (EVM).

 

This method has gained popularity in Project Management and, used correctly, can be very informative.

 

    Click the blue button for a simple explanation of

 

                               EVM     

 

PROCUREMENT Running Total

Project Procurement may happen all at once, but more likely it happens over the lifetime of your project. For successful procurements you want to receive the right quality, quantity, cost, and delivery times, along with other characteristics such as the right options, friendly customer service, and so on. The characteristic of 'quantity' lends itself well to graphing over a period of time, in a Running Total Graph. Procurement cost has a direct impact on your Cost management and will contribute to your Cost Running Total Graph.

 

For our example we will graph quantity of good units delivered, over a period of 10 days. Only good units will be used on the project as 'bad' units will be returned to the seller.

To illustrate, let us suppose we have ordered 100 sheets of plywood for our project. To match the pace of construction, we do not want these all delivered at once, but rather we want 10 sheets the first day, another 10 the second day, 15 the third day, and so on. Our cumulative planned number of good units is shown in the table below. By day 10 we planned to have received all 100 sheets.

 

However, the seller has chosen to disregard our delivery plan and instead sent 20 on the first day, 15 on the second day, and 15 on the third day. Our cumulative actual number of good units is shown in the table below. By day 3 we have already received 50 sheets.

When these tables are graphed they form a Running Total Graph.

TIP:  Make your running total graph as you go along, adding to it each day. That way you will not be surprised when it is plotted, but will see the total developing day-by-day.

PROCUREMENT Running Total MONITORING

 

The plan for number of good units received is important for many projects. Over-shipment consumes storage space and creates cash flow problems. Under-shipment causes delays in workflow.

 

 

In this project the seller was over-shipping from Day 1, with no apparent correction.

At this rate, the graph shows we would likely have received all 100 sheets of plywood by about Day 5. 

At this point we need to ask, "Can we accommodate this deviation from the plan?"  Look again at your Scope running total. Also look at your Gantt Chart schedule, which we discussed under Monitoring and Controlling Time. Is your project ahead of schedule in which case the early deliveries would be welcomed?

PROCUREMENT Running Total CONTROLLING

As with all controlling, you should make early corrections ('nip it in the bud', as the expression goes). To control the Procurement on your project, you need to have firm conversations with your seller. Knowing the reason for a deviation from the plan will help you find a solution to that problem.

You may decide to call your seller and tell them to stop shipments until further notice. Another possibility is that the seller needs to free up warehouse space, and is willing to give you a discounted price for early delivery. 

HUMAN RESOURCES Running Total MONITORING

Human Resources utilization will certainly affect the actual Scope, Time, and Cost of your project, as time goes on. The human resource will also likely affect your project Quality, Communications, Risk, Procurement, and Physical Resource utilization. Any of these affected areas can be graphed as Running Totals.

 

It is also useful to graph Human Resources hours used against time. This could be for a single person or a group of people to check if the hours used are in line with the plan.

Scroll to the top of this page for a full explanation of Running Total graphs.

PHYSICAL RESOURCES Running Total MONITORING

 

It is important to manage Physical Resources utilization against time. Rentals and consumables can quickly erode your project Cost plan if not closely monitored and then controlled. A very useful tool for monitoring Physical Resource utilization is the Running Total graph.

Scroll to the top of this page for a full explanation of Running Total graphs

 

COMMUNICATIONS Running Total MONITORING

 

Many aspects of Communications can be measured against time. Some examples are:

  • number of newsletters issued 

  • number of web-site updates done 

  • number of open houses held

 

A very useful and simple tool for monitoring these aspects is the Running Total graph.

Scroll to the top of this page for a full explanation of Running Total graphs

 

 

 

 

STAKEHOLDER ENGAGEMENT Running Total MONITORING

 

Many aspects of Stakeholder Engagement can be measured against time. Some examples are:

  • number of respondents to a project survey or questionnaire 

  • number of people who have volunteered

  • number of team members absent from meetings

  • number of new ideas brought forward

  • number of customer complaints

 

A very useful and simple tool for monitoring these aspects is the Running Total graph.

Scroll to the top of this page for a full explanation of Running Total graphs

 

 

 

CONCLUSION

Running Total Graphs are powerful tools for seeing how certain project variables accumulate over time. They are highly visual, easy to understand, and make a great presentation tool. You can graph a single variable or multiple variables (such as planned and actual) on the same plot.

Keeping your Running Total Graph up-to-date allows you to be proactive and make corrections before it is too late. 

 
 
 
 

© Copyright 2014 - 2020. Registration Number 1164975.

All rights reserved.