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Control in Software Project Management

written by: chemuturi • edited by: Michele McDonough • updated: 3/6/2013

In order to successfully manage any software project, monitor and control are essential. What does the control process really entail? This is the first of four articles about the topic of maintaining control in software project management.

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    Keeping the Project Under Control

    Most of us are accustomed to hearing the word control associated with the phrase “Control Freak,” denoting a person who unfairly manipulates the people around him or her. In many circles, it has a bit of a sinister connotation attached to it.

    However, the term control has a totally different connotation when it comes to software project management.

    Here, control is defined as the corrective action that is taken periodically during project execution, from measuring progress on various aspects of the project and comparing and contrasting actuals against the desired progress.

    The key terms are:

    1. Project Execution – This indicates that Control is exercised during the Project Execution phase – not in the planning or post delivery phases.

    2. Measuring Progress – This indicates that progress of project is measured on multiple aspects and that the term “Measure” signifies the quantitative nature of these aspects.

    3. Comparing and contrasting with the desired progress – This refers to two important points that need to be stressed.

    • Desired Progress – Desired progress refers to targets set by the project management team and accepted through estimation, planning, and scheduling by the project team.
    • Comparing and Contrasting – Comparing the actual values achieved with the desired values and coming out with gaps in achievement. There may be no gaps between actual achievement and desired progress. Or, there may be positive gaps, meaning that the achievement is better than desired. On the other hand, negative gaps mean that the achievement is worse than the desired progress.

    4. Corrective Action – The action that becomes necessary from the gaps unearthed in the “comparing and contrasting” activity. Corrective action can be to pump in more resources so that the gaps disappear by the time the next measurement takes place or to correct expectations.

    5. That is taken periodically – This indicates that measurement, comparing and contrasting, and corrective action take place during project execution regularly at preset intervals of time.

    6. Various Aspects of the Project – These are items that need to be corrected, if necessary. They include the following:

    • Scope
    • Cost
    • Schedule
    • Quality
    • Effort
    • Productivity

    Who would take the corrective action? Normally, the project team and other relevant stakeholders when necessary. Over the course of this series, we'll examine each of these aspects in greater detail.

Control in Software Project Management

This series defines the term Control as it is applicable in the context of software project management and explains the aspect to be controlled and the mechanisms available for exercising the right control
  1. Control in Software Project Management
  2. Control in Software Project Management - Part III
  3. Control in Software Project Management - Part IV