When something bad happens on a project, it is usually related to time, cost or scope. Project managers are aware of this and spend most of their time trying to prevent negative risks and mitigating their potential impact. Project controls is comprised of a set of tools, processes and people skills that are combined to help project managers have the right information at the right time to make the right decisions.
Project controls manages the project and keeps it within budget, on time and assuring the scope is delivered as agreed. Variances occur across industries and organizations but they always provide a path to complete a successful project and deliver beneficial cost, time and performance.
What is Project Controls?
The technical definition, according to the Project Management Institute’s project management “bible,” Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK), states: “Project controls are the data gathering, management and analytical processes used to predict, understand and constructively influence the time and cost outcomes of a project or program; through the communication of information in formats that assist effective management and decision making.”
Project controls can be thought of as the mechanism that keeps a project on schedule when planning, keeping costs within budget and executing the agreed-upon scope.
In project management, project controllers address the following:
- Project strategy
- Cost estimates
- Risk management
- Project documentation
- General oversight
Collecting and managing data, finding trends in that information, reporting on progress and then practicing what you have learned is what it is all about.
Management Solutions is constantly improving our personalized project controls process. Our customized capabilities allow us to create and deliver holistic project controls training customized to meet each client’s unique needs.
Project Controls Solutions’ quantitative assessment tools and practical, case-based training programs are based on over two decades of experience providing project controls expertise to government and commercial clients on some of the largest and most difficult nuclear, environmental, national defense, transportation and infrastructure projects.
Why Is Project Controls Important?
The scope of project controls is large: that alone signifies its importance. The purpose of a project manager is to control the project from its inception to completion. In fact, a strong project plan is key to project controls. For successful execution, a solid plan must be in place and project controls helps align the whole project with the larger strategic goals of the organization, which means saving the project and the organization time and money.
Another benefit project controls brings is that it provides help to answer important questions about the project. For example, how much will the project cost, how long will it take to complete and what is the value of or quality that the project will deliver?
Project controllers are needed at the beginning of the project as you make your schedule, assemble a team, break down tasks, identify stakeholders and figure out what the project objective is. Also, the estimation of costs and duration of the project are where controls are essential. These challenges are two of the greatest in a project, making it essential for accurate estimates.
The rubber hits the road during the development process. Cost estimates are developed into budgets and time estimates become schedules. It is during this phase that project controllers are a necessity.
They support monitoring and reporting about the project plan and schedule. The better the project controllers, the faster errors can be identified. Expenses, performance and budgets can be monitored, and a risk management plan can be created to recognize risks to the project cost and schedule.
Successfully executing a project means keeping the team focused to prevent getting off schedule and exceeding your budget. Monitoring and tracking progress is the only way to do this.
The end of a project is not complete until the last piece of paperwork has been filled out. Paperwork comes after the deliverables are distributed and stakeholders are satisfied and allows us to gather performance information. This allows us to see what worked and what did not, providing a way for improvement when the next project comes along.
The People Part of Project Controls
Project controls is a combination of many things that can be broken down into two groups: tools and people. This means having the right project manager, team, data, resources and change management are the only ways to ensure a successful project. Our teams at Management Solutions and Project Controls Solutions are staffed with skillful and experienced workers who have expertise and knowledge in how to do the work assigned to them.
Management Solutions’ Unique Approach to Project Controls
Project Controls Solutions grew out of Management Solutions’ decades of expertise delivering technology-driven engineering solutions. Our project controls assessment, training, advisory, and recruitment services produce project controls professionals who consistently deliver significant cost reductions, improved efficiencies, expedited project completion, and increased business value to our clients. Our best-in-class project controls training programs equip our clients with the project controls capabilities required to execute and deliver even the most difficult projects.