2.2 Monitoring as control
To control you need a plan that indicates what should happen and information that tells you what is actually happening. This is monitoring activity. By comparing the information about actual progress against the plan, you will be able to identify any variations.
Control is an important part of project management. It involves:
reporting the progress of the project against the plan;
analysing the reasons for variance between progress and plan;
taking action to eliminate variance.
However sound your project plan, it is certain to need adjusting and updating as you go along. There are techniques that help to make this possible, and use of project planning software will often make the task much easier.
The box below shows the elements of project control:
a standard – the project plan
collection of monitoring information, primarily from team members
a mechanism for comparing progress against the project plan to identify problems
a process to identify the causes of problems, and to generate solutions
winning support and agreement to proposed changes to the plan
implementing corrective action, either to bring the project back in line with the plan or to change the plan.
It is also important to collect and analyse data to report back to stakeholders, who will remain involved in monitoring and negotiation throughout the life of the project.
Expect that, as the project progresses, there will be things that you will want to change within its boundaries. There will also be changes in the environment of the project, that will impact on the tasks and activities that are part of the project itself. Whenever a review of project progress leads to a decision to make a change in the plan, it is essential to record the changes on the plan itself so that a master plan is maintained that is up to date. If you always record changes to the plan you will maintain a ‘living’ document as the basis for continuing action.