My Projects

September 5, 2007 134 comments so far

Why Project Monitoring & Controlling?

Creating and maintaining the project plan is an important part of project leadership. However, constantly monitoring a project's "health" and regularly controlling a project's overall status is vital for ensuring the successful implementation of the project plan.

Let's assume that you have a child: He is a teenager, 14 years old and you tell him that you want him to return home until 10 PM in the evening. Would you monitor if he is really back by 10 PM or would you simply trust him to be back at 10 PM anyway? Right... So why do so many project managers create a project plan and simply trust their project members to execute the plan in time and on budget and are then surprised that this was not the case?

Personally, I believe that there are three major reasons for this:

  1. Many project managers are only trained in project planning and simply lack the skill or at least the "awareness" that monitoring and controlling is at least as important as planning
  2. Project monitoring and controlling involve some additional effort not everyone is committed to invest
  3. Most project management software packages only support the planning phase, but provide little additional value for project monitoring or controlling

Nevertheless, constantly monitoring a project is important. And it is even more important to define a simple controlling cycle. Without continuous project monitoring and controlling it is like steering a cruise ship in the Arctic Ocean and you will not know that you hit an iceberg before the icy water is chilling your toes.

The most important fact I would like to create awareness for is that a project controlling cycle can indeed be simple: There does not have to be much to it. In my opinion, there are only two requirements for a controlling cycle:

  1. Regularity, i.e., the controlling cycle should always be 2-weekly, monthly, 2-monthly, etc.
  2. Completeness, meaning that you should take a brief look at all controlling dimensions which are important to you for this particular project

Please note that the time period for a controlling cycle depends mainly on the complexity of the project, the overall time frame of the project and on the project dynamics, i.e., the higher the complexity, the smaller the time frame and the higher the project dynamics, the shorter the project controlling cycle should be.

Regarding controlling dimensions, we will take a brief look at each dimension separately in the next subsequent posts. In addition, the size and nature of your project and also your organization will define the level of complexity of controlling and also the controlling dimensions that you will need.

I am already looking forward to your comments and suggestions regarding this thrilling topic inside project leadership - in my opinion, one of the most important topics in this area.