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Control – part 3 - General

Extends beyond the project management team

The need for control will often extend beyond the project management team itself.
There will be a need to seek approval for various actions from senior management.
This could be the Project Board or programme management.

Culture to flag problems. No scapegoats

Before you can hope to control activities you will need to identify where things have gone wrong.
If you have a blame culture, that is always looking for a scapegoat then this will be less likely.

The running of project will be by exception.
In general, this means that people only raise problems when the project either goes off track or is likely to go off track.
If people are unwilling to raise such issues it could materialise in many ways.
For example, results and reports might be massaged to make them look better.
In addition, people may feel that things are going wrong but don’t feel able to raise the issue at an early stage.
This can cause serious problems if not addressed.

Possible to set a baseline

In order to know how you are progressing you need to know where you started from.
Therefore, you will need to record the original schedule to compare with progress later.

Retaining a snapshot of the schedule at particular milestones is known as saving a baseline copy.
Software can save baseline copies of the schedule easily.

This works very well if you wish to interpret the data and derive conclusions that may benefit the current or future projects.
However, it can become meaningless if activities are modified excessively, eliminated or additional tasks are added.
It works best where schedules are not altered excessively.

Establish a formal control procedure

Naturally, each version of the project schedule must be controlled in terms of issue, version number and recall of old ones.
This is carried out under PRINCE2® [see ‘The Complete Project Management plus PRINCE2’] using Configuration Management.

Whatever monitoring and control procedures you have make sure that everyone is aware of their existence, how they work and that they are documented.

PRINCE2® is a Registered Trade Mark of the Office of Government Commerce in the United Kingdom and other countries.