Understanding Project Monitoring and Control
Understanding Project Monitoring and Control

As evident from the title itself, it’s a process that tracks the actual project performance with the planned Project Management activities. The monitor and control process is a control function that takes place at all stages of the project – from Initiation through Closing. The key benefit of this process is that it allows the stakeholders to understand the current state of the project, the steps taken, and the budget, schedule, and scope forecasts.

Monitor And Control Process

Through the process of monitor and control, the project manager must be in a position to balance the requirements that arise from different knowledge areas. For example, the project manager can undergo situations, where a project is completed on time, but, has failed to meet the quality standards mentioned in the Project Management plan. Likewise, the project might have a significant scope, but unfortunately, it has exceeded the time and cost limit. Hence, the process of monitoring and controlling project work is considered extremely important.

Let’s discuss the inputs, tools, and techniques, and outputs involved in the monitor and control project work process:

Monitor and Control Process – Inputs

1. Project Management Plan

The subsidiary plans and the project baselines form the basis of controlling the project, as it mainly involves focusing on all the aspects of the project. The PMP includes the following subsidiary plans which are explained under the process of developing a project management plan.

2. Project Documents

  • Assumption log – The assumption log contains information about expectations and pain points identified as affecting the project.
  • Basis of estimates – The basis of estimates indicates how the various estimates were borrowed and can be used to decide on how to respond to the difference of opinion.
  • Cost forecasts – Based on the project’s previous performance, the cost forecasts are used to determine if the project is within defined tolerance ranges for budget and to identify if any necessary change requests arise.
  • Issue log – The issue log is used to document and monitor who is responsible for resolving specific issues within the scheduled date.
  • Lessons learned register – The lessons learned register might contain information on effective responses for variances and corrective and preventive actions.
  • Milestone list – The milestone list shows the scheduled dates for particular milestones and is also used to check if the planned milestones have been accomplished.
  • Quality reports – The quality report includes quality management issues; which are also known as suggestions for the process, project, and product improvements; corrective actions recommendations (includes rework, defect/bugs repair, 100% inspection, and more); and the summary of findings from the Control Quality process.
  • Risk register – The risk register provides details on the threats and opportunities that have occurred during the execution of the project.
  • Risk report – The risk report provides information on the overall project and specified individual risks.
  • Schedule forecasts – Based on the project’s earlier performance, the schedule forecasts are used to determine if the project is within the defined tolerance ranges for schedule and to identify any necessary change requests.

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3. Work Performance Information

Work performance data is an output of the direct and manage project work process where the data is collected, analyzed, and integrated to produce work performance information for providing a sound foundation for making project decisions. With the performance information, the project manager can gain knowledge on status deliverables, implementation status for change requests, and provide forecasted estimated time to complete.

4. Agreements

The procurement agreement includes terms and conditions, and may also integrate other items that the buyer specifies regarding what the seller is to perform or provide. If the project is outsourcing part of the work, the project manager needs to oversee the contractor’s work to make certain that all the agreements meet the specific needs of the project while adhering to organizational procurement policies.

5. Enterprise Environmental Factors

The enterprise environmental factors are conditions that are not under the control of the project team. They vary widely depending on the nature of the environment and are as follows:

  • Government or Industry Standards – Includes aspects like, regulatory agency regulations, codes of conduct, product standards, quality standards, and workmanship standards that influence the process of monitoring and controlling the project work.
  • Existing Human Resources – The level of skills, disciplines, and knowledge, such as design, development, legal, contracting, and purchasing capabilities of the organization that influence the monitoring and controlling process.
  • Stakeholder Risk Tolerances – A crucial aspect at any given stage of the project work. The project manager should understand the tolerance level of the stakeholder as to how much negative impact can he sustain during the project’s lifecycle.
  • Commercial Databases – Acquiring knowledge of standardized cost estimating data, along with the industry risk study information, and risk databases from the previously undertaken projects to have a better understanding of the current project working procedure.
  • Project Management Information System – PMIs are system tools and techniques used in project management to deliver information. Project managers use the methods and tools to collect, combine and distribute information through electronic and manual means.

6. Organizational Process Assets

The organizational process assets are the plans, processes, policies, procedures, and knowledge bases specific to and used by the performing organization. The assets may be grouped into two categories:

  1. Processes and Procedures

    The Processes and Procedures under the organizational process assets can be segregated into three stages:

    1. Initiating and Planning: Implementing guidelines and criteria used for tailoring the organization’s standard processes and procedures to satisfy the specific needs of the project. Effective planning of organizational standards such as policies, product and project life cycles, and methods to maintaining quality policies and procedures are necessary for monitoring and controlling the project.

    2. Executing, Monitoring, and Controlling: A method to change the existing control procedures and also to document how the changes are approved and validated. The process also includes keeping a tab on the financial control procedures, issue and defect management procedures, organizational communication requirements, change and risk control procedures along with process measurement and lessons learned database.

    3. Closing: During the closing stage, the project manager will monitor the project closure guidelines, which include focusing on the lessons learned, final project audits, evaluations, and product validations.

  1. Corporate Knowledge Base

    The organizational knowledge base for storing and retrieving information includes:

    1. The knowledge base will comprise various versions and baselines of the policies, procedures, and project documents. The knowledge base also includes financial databases containing information on labor hours, incurred costs, budgets, and project costs overshoot.
    2. A project manager should also know historical information and lessons learned from previous project records and performance. A project manager should also have corporate knowledge of the issues and defects so that he/she can control and resolute the same in any problems that arise.
    3. Finally, the corporate knowledge base also should have information on components that include insights into the process measurement databases and information on the project files from previous projects (Ex. scope, cost, schedule baselines, and project calendars).

Monitor and Control Process – Tools and Techniques

1. Expert Judgment

To ensure that the project performance matches the expectation, the project manager, in collaboration with the project management team uses expert judgment to interpret the information provided by the monitor and control processes. These expertise insights must be taken from individuals or groups who are specialized in the topics like:

  • Earned Value Analysis
  • Interpretation and contextualization of data
  • Techniques to estimate duration and costs
  • Trend analysis
  • Technical knowledge of the industry and focus area of the project
  • Risk management and
  • Contract management

2. Data Analysis

  • Alternatives Analysis: Alternatives analysis is used to select the corrective actions or a combination of corrective and preventive measures to implement when a deviation occurs in the project management process.
  • Cost-benefit Analysis: Cost-benefit analysis helps to determine the best corrective action regarding cost in case of project deviations.
  • Earned Value Analysis: Earned value provides an integrated perspective on the scope, schedule, and cost performance.
  • Root Cause Analysis: Root cause analysis focuses on identifying the main reasons for a problem. It can be used to determine the reasons for a deviation and the areas the project manager should focus on in order to achieve the objectives of the project.
  • Trend Analysis: Trend analysis is used to forecast future performance based on past results. It looks ahead in the project for expected slippages and warns the project manager ahead of time that there may be problems later in the schedule if established trends persist. This information is available early enough in the project timeline to give the project team time to analyze and correct any anomalies. The results of trend analysis will help to recommend preventive actions if necessary.
  • Variance Analysis: Variance analysis reviews the differences (or variance) between planned and actual performance. This can include duration estimates, cost estimates, resources utilization, resources rates, technical performance, and other metrics. Variance analysis may be conducted in each knowledge area based on its particular variables. In monitor and control project work, the variance analysis reviews the variances from an integrated perspective considering cost, time, technical, and resource variances about each other to get an overall view of variance on the project. This allows initiation for the appropriate preventive or corrective actions.

3. Decision Making

A decision-making technique involves all the individuals, project management teams, and stakeholders to agree upon a single decision through the process of voting. This will enable the project to operate within the project management scope.

4. Meetings

Meetings may be face-to-face, formal, informal, or virtual. It might comprise of project team members stakeholders and others involved in the undertaken project. The main agenda is to circulate information regarding the project. And, to make sure that the expectations clearly translate and reach their conclusion.

Monitor and Control Process – Outputs

1. Change Requests

After comparing the actual results with the results of planning, change requests will direct the project. They may direct it to expand, adjust, or reduce the project and product scope, quality requirements, schedule, and cost baselines. These changes will pave the way for the collection and documentation of new requirements. And, they can impact the project management plan, documents, or product deliverables.

Note: All changes that meet the project’s change control criteria should go through the integrated change control process established for the project.

Change requests may include the below-mentioned aspects:

  1. Corrective Action: A deliberate activity that realigns the performance of the project work with the project management plan.
  2. Preventive Action: An intent of activity that ensures the future performance of the project work associates with the project management plan.
  3. Defect Repair: A calculated activity to modify an unusual product or product component.

2. Work Performance Reports

These are the physical representation of work performance information that we compile into project documents, focused on generating decisions, actions, and awareness. To maintain, store and distribute information, representation in the form of a project document is necessary. These work performance reports are a sub-division of project documents, and these reports may be provided for key stakeholders.

3. Project Management Plan Updates

Changes identified during this process may affect the overall project management plan. These changes, after processing through the appropriate change control process can lead to project management plan updates. Project management plan elements that may need updating include:

  • Scope management plan
  • Requirements management plan
  • Schedule management plan
  • Cost management plan
  • Quality management plan
  • Scope baseline
  • Schedule baseline
  • Cost baseline

4. Project Documents Updates

Project documents that may need updating include:

  • Schedule and Cost Forecast: A document that stores information on the schedule and cost limit of the concerned project.
  • Work Performance Report: A document that contains information on the number of hours, the quality standards, and the overall ability of the team.
  • Issue log: A document that contains information about all the issues that arose during the project monitoring and controlling process and the time taken to resolve the issue and the outcome of the action taken.

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Conclusion

Changes will always occur during a project. There are scenarios where even those well-drafted plans, will have varied results when compared with the actual planned values. Hence, performing the monitor and control project work process is essential to determine those changes. Monitor and control the project work process is crucial to meet the desired outcomes of the project. Because if one doesn’t measure the performance, they will not be able to know how the project is going. And this is a significant risk for the failure of the project.

Know more about Project Management best practices through Invensis Learning’s Project Management certification training on PMP, CAPM, PRINCE2, Project Management Fundamentals, etc. 

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Lucy Brown has many years of experience in the project management domain and has helped many organizations across the Asia Pacific region. Her excellent coordinating capabilities, both inside and outside the organization, ensures that all projects are completed on time, adhering to clients' requirements. She possesses extensive expertise in developing project scope, objectives, and coordinating efforts with other teams in completing a project. As a project management practitioner, she also possesses domain proficiency in Project Management best practices in PMP and Change Management. Lucy is involved in creating a robust project plan and keep tabs on the project throughout its lifecycle. She provides unmatched value and customized services to clients and has helped them to achieve tremendous ROI.

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