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What Is Project Control?
Project control refers to all the activities and processes available to successfully manage project risks. For the PMP test, project control entails a total of 12 distinctive processes out of the 44 project management processes in the body of work.
In essence, project control is all the effective activities that the project manager performs to keep project performance and resource utilization at optimal levels. The magnitude and frequency of these activities are dictated by the size and organizational impact of the project. No matter the size of the project, there are three core elements of effective project control:
You could think of this as having a
All these elements help to prescribe a measured and controlled execution environment.
Figure 6.1 depicts how the process groups of the project management methodology are related, and that all of them must be monitored and controlled for effective project completion.
Figure 6.1. The project control framework.
Factors That Cause Project Change
In order to effectively control a project, the project manager must prepare organizational processes that work like sentinels on the fence. These sentinels help the project manager identify events (people, cultural, or strategic) that might force a change to the project or the environment where the project is executing. In other words your project is influenced by elements outside of its normal execution and identified risks. These processes can include elements, such as
Some examples of project control processes and their elements are
Approving Project Changes
When an opportunity for change is identified, you must make the time to acknowledge the request for change, evaluate its associated risks, and consider its potential-not for just the timeline but also scope, cost, staff, quality, make/buy, and communication. This process helps you to identify if the change is gold plating or if it has direct impact to the project deliverables and its return on investment.
After you have determined that a proposed change has merit and supports the project objectives, the change request is submitted to the project control team for final determinations. For the most part, the interaction with the control board is defined in the planning stage and can remain in place until the completion of the project. In the event that your organization has a project management office, the members of the change control board can change to accommodate strategic impact or affected areas in your organization.
The Project Feedback Loop
You know that projects have five distinctive processes: initiate, plan, execute, control, closure (IPECC). But what of the external changes that occur during the execution of your project? This is where iterative information gathering and dissemination processes serve as information feedback loops.
One of the challenges of the traditional waterfall methodology approaches is that they do not provide for methods to incorporate organizational changes midstream and do not verify their range to target impacts. In other words, a project without feedback loops makes the assumption that nothing will change throughout the life of project; the requirements will not change or are frozen.
Remember that sometimes enterprise changes have a direct effect on the viability of the project. Some examples of events that you might want to be made aware of in advance are
Providing Corrective Action for a Project
After evaluating your work package progress reports and the earned value analysis calculation, you have come to the realization your project has fallen behind and is beyond recovery under its current execution and control framework.
Some options available at this time could be to
Remember that the whole idea behind a corrective or preventive control is to help preserve the healthy execution of your project and maximize its resource utilizations.
Some of the items used to measure and keep control of the schedule and cost variances are seen in Table 6.1.
Using the WBS to Control the Project Scope
The scope control process is the process tasked with effective control of the scope and deliverables of the project. Its main component is the scope baseline. The scope baseline defines the project scope and its associated deliverables and documents the acceptance parameters of the final product. This baseline helps in clarifying any details that might have been left in a to-be-determined (TBD) mode during the project initiation phase or items that require further clarification with the project sponsor of its stakeholders. Your project process indicators in this process are
The idea behind effectively defining the work breakdown structure is to create the roadmap that defines all the activities that will be executed in order to accomplish the project goal.
The WBS is one of those elements that morphs and changes as time and resource utilization passes. Why? As you perform the tasks outlined in your baseline, the recorded changes accommodate any differences between the planned theory and the actual execution.
An effective WBS assists the stakeholder to understand the activities and events that help in delivering the project promise, as well as outlining internal and external resource use. The entire project execution looks at the WBS to inquire about present, past, and future deliverables and their effectiveness.
Identifying Variance with Earned Value Management
Earned value analysis is a tool used to help in identifying how well the team is performing and where the project might end up in comparison to the project plan. It was initially conceived by the United States Department of Defense (DoD) as a tool to standardize the way contractors report on the progress of their assigned projects.
In order to successfully report on earned value management, your project must have a well-defined WBS and an effective task planned versus actual performance reporting system.
A basic utilization example is as follows:
The budgeted cost for work scheduled (BCWS), or PV, is the planned value of the work according to the project budget. The BCWS of a 12 milestone/144 work packages project is $200,000 , and the cost for every three milestones has been estimated at $50,000.
The actual cost for work performed (ACWP) is how much you really have incurred in the project. In this example, you are at milestone 6 and the project has used $80,000; therefore, your ACWP is $80,000.
The budgeted cost for work performed (BCWP), or EV, is the value of how much work has been completed. So while your ACWP is $80,000, your BCWP is $100,000.
Armed with this information, you can determine derivative calculations such as the schedule performance index (SPI) and the cost performance index (CPI).
In this example, the calculations are
Measuring Quality Control
In the project context, quality is not only defined as delivering the right thing at the right time and at the right cost, but also delivering to customer expectations. As such, you, the project manager, have to ensure that the required metrics, tolerances, reports, and checklists are in place to ensure a quality prone execution and delivery sandbox is in place.
Diagrams and Charts Used to Measure Quality Control
The three diagrams that follow are typical diagrams or charts used to help monitor quality control:
Managing Your Project Team
You can not manage what you do not measure. Team performance entails tracking team performance against the expectations of the project and its deliverables. No matter what type of organization you work for, the project resources need to be recognized as temporal and shared by functional or project managers.
Because of the realities of project environments, the project manager must be aware of
Popular Behavioral Theories Used in Human Resource Management
Managers manage differently, but there has been a sizable body of research on the ways managers see and lead their employees. This section touches on some of the theories you should understand for project team management and for the exam. In essence, the following theories speak to the way individuals are motivated and might behave by themselves or in a group:
Communicating How Your Project Is Performing
Communicating with the world is one of your primary jobs. As a communicator, you must understand the mechanics involved in sending a message. There has to be an initiator, who encodes and sends the message, and the receiver who decodes, acknowledges, and, last but not least, confirms that he received the message.
In the normal exchange of information with your entire project team you will find methods and techniques that help you with formal and informal communication. Formal methods include items such as contracts, status reports, public speeches, and performance appraisals. Informal methods are those such as "The Scuttlebutt," email, and telephone conversations.
With this in mind, you need to understand that you might have to adjust the message and its delivery method based on the audience and the level of impact the project might have on the individuals with whom you are communicating. For example, consider the adjustments in communication that might have to occur between a board member and the person doing the work. For the worker, getting information about revenue projections and return on investment might be of little or no consequence in her daily duties. Giving the worker figures on how many additional widgets can be made in an hour, however, would definitely have an impact on her duties and equipment maintenance cycles.
In addition, you must be cognitive that when delivering a message, nonverbal communication and physical appearance have a direct effect on the message being delivered. For example, you are tasked with delivering a message to a construction team. First, you need to make sure that you use language and colloquialism appropriate to the construction group. This approach might not work the same way when giving a project update to the company senior team. At the same time, you need to make sure that the message and intentions are clearly understood by the audience to whom you are delivering the message.
Risk Monitoring and Risk Control
Project risk control and monitoring is where you keep track of how your qualitative or quantitative risk responses are performing against the plan, as well as the place where new risks to the project are managed.
Remember that to determine how much of an affect a risk will have, you need to multiply its probability times its material impact. As the probability of risk materialization increases, your risk register should make resource (money, equipment, people, and time) allocations ahead of time, thus increasing your reserves. You must also have as part of your risk management plan the processes that would replenish these reserves before they become depleted.
The purpose of project risk control is to
In the risk register, you account for positive and negative risks. A positive risk is a risk taken by the project because its potential benefits outweigh the traditional approach. A negative risk is one that could negatively influence the cost of the project or its schedule.
Some of the techniques you can implement to evaluate your risk control and monitoring effectiveness is to compare actual risk resolution practices versus those that were planned at the time the risk was identified. If you identify any deviations (negative or positive), you could implement a corrective action in your risk management plan.
Remember that for each identified risk, you must provide a response plan. It is not much help to you if the risk becomes a reality and you do not have an alternate execution path or an emergency procurement plan.
In addition, your risk reserves must be evaluated in order to determine the best way to replenish them. Some examples of events that could have a negative impact in your risk mitigation and control strategies are
Contract administration is when the vendor or service performance is compared to the contractual service level agreements (SLA). Due to its implications and its potential impact across several sections of your project or the enterprise, all team members must be aware of the legal ramifications of any change in the contractual relationship. In addition, project-vendor disbursements tend to tie the SLAs and deliverables to direct cash expenditures.
In general, the project contract administrator is from the contract management office and/or your legal department and has the authority to issue change requests or early terminations.
Remember that all communications pertaining to contract administration must follow formal channels and be logged in your project log.
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