Collection of Guides and Tips to Improve the Project Monitoring Process
written by: N Nayab
• edited by: Donna Cosmato
• updated: 9/26/2011
This guide to the project monitor and control process provides a collection of insightful articles on these important project management stages. They encompass a detailed overview of the topics, strategies and best practices, tools and techniques in use and much more.
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Monitoring is observing and checking the progress of the project to ensure compliance with project scope, timelines, deliverables and schedules. Project control is measuring such progress by comparing and contrasting actual progress with project plans and schedules and taking corrective action as required. The basis for project monitoring and control such as the tools and techniques to use incorporates in the planning stage and the actual monitoring and control mostly takes place during project execution.
A good understanding of what is project monitoring and control, the need for these steps, and how to go about doing it is essential for anyone connected with a project and indispensable for project success. Even if the people involved in the execution of small projects do not formally invoke a monitoring or control phase, the activities that constitute these phases invariably come into play to ensure project success.
Successful project execution requires adopting sound and relevant strategies throughout the project life cycle. Examples of effective strategies during the monitoring and controlling phase include strategies to keep cost in check, strategies to meet timelines and deliverables, strategies to meet the require quality standards, and more.
Adopting the right strategies for project monitoring and control becomes important to ensure the seamless execution of projects as these tasks usually take place simultaneous to project execution. Done wrong, monitoring and control becomes intrusive and a drag on productivity and efficiency.
Monitoring and managing the activities of the project team plays a crucial role in controlling the project. The human resource is the only "dynamic" resource and controlling the use of all other resources can make or break a project.
A team that works to specifications meets deliverables, matches timelines, and maintains project scope. Dysfunctional teams, teams with low productivity, out-of-control teams, or teams beset with problems such as infighting, ego clashes, lack of clarity on goals, and more all affect the project adversely.
Successful project implementation requires alignment of project team management with overall project requirements. For instance, the project deliverables and the variables in the performance management of the team require alignment. Meeting project schedules requires role clarity for the team members, effective communication with and among team members, skill analysis and bridging gaps to ensure team members put in required performance, and more.
Techniques are the implementation of strategy and as such the techniques used for project monitoring and controlling depends on the strategy adopted. The various techniques in use include basic and common methods such as meetings to scientific analysis such as earned value analysis and critical path analysis. The project manager and other stakeholders determine the best approach considering specific project factors such as project objectives, nature of resources, environmental factors, and more.
The corpus of project management experience provides sound and time-tested techniques that allow for effective monitoring and controlling. Experience also shows which techniques would become relevant in what circumstances and how to implement these techniques.
Project monitoring and control takes many dimensions such as observing and making the required interventions in the project scope management, timelines, delivery schedules, asset allocations, resource management, and more. It requires adopting a proactive approach to functions such as performance management of the project team, cash flow control, quality improvement, and more.
Not all approaches are necessary for every project. The best approach when controlling a project is to intervene only to the minimum required, to provide the project team with the required autonomy and the processes to function according to plan, and to enforce corrective actions only when detecting or anticipating digression
The implementation of project monitoring and controls is done with the help of various tools. Gantt charts, control charts, status reports, fishbone diagrams, and flowcharts are some of the most popular tools in use, and all of them serve specific purposes.
The spread of technology and computing has resulted in the proliferation of software applications, both online and offline, specifically aimed at project monitoring and controlling. The various options in MS Office and other popular software applications also allow for the creation of useful and customizable tools.
A status report compiles the latest information in a specified format or in the set parameters regarding the issue under consideration. In most projects, the line manager or floor level workers or supervisors prepare multiple status reports on the operations on a periodic basis, which could be hourly, daily, weekly, monthly, annually, or of any other duration. In other cases, status reports may also depend on incidents rather than set periods.
Status reports are some of the oldest and most conventional, yet still the most common and popular, tools used by project managers and executives to monitor and to control projects. A good understanding of what is a status report, its many purposes and uses, and how to prepare the same improves the performance of anyone associated with a project.
The successful implementation of project monitoring and control strategies takes place through many ways. The best approach is to customize the approach and strategy to the specific project in hand. Now two projects are exactly alike, and even if the methods and deliverables are the same, the purpose, the circumstances, resources on hand, the nature of the project team, external environment, and other factors all change.
The following articles reveal some of the time-tested best practices in project monitoring and controlling. Project managers would do well to incorporate the spirit of such best practices and adopt a similar approach in their projects.
Regardless of whether you are a student, subject enthusiast, researcher or an executive deeply involved in projects, this guide to the project monitor and control process will help you to gain valuable information on these topics. You will understand what goes behind making projects successful and how to avoid project management failures.
Use the comments section at the end of each articles to connect with the author, editor and other enthusiasts or to clear your doubts, engage in a discussion, or seek additional information. We're waiting to hear from you!