An easy way to remember what project control is all about is to think PDA. PDA stands for Prevention, Detection, and Action. Let's take a closer look at these fundamental principles of project control:
• Prevention As with your own health, the secret to wellness is strengthening your immune system and minimizing contact with harmful agents. In other words, don't get sick in the first place. The same principle applies to effective project control. The best way to keep your project on track is to prevent (or at least minimize) variances from occurring. How do you do this? This takes your entire array of project management skills, but a few key activities include investing in planning, communicating effectively, monitoring risk factors continuously, resolving issues aggressively, and delegating work clearly.
• Detection For this aspect of project control, think "radar system" or "early warning system." Project control should provide early detection of variances. The sooner we can act on a variance, the more likely we are to get the success factor back on track. The key for early detection is to have the tracking systems and work processes in place that allow for the timely measurement of project results. Common examples of detection methods are performance reporting and review meetings. Two important concepts to note here are that to have a variance, you must be comparing actual results to a baseline of some type, and a variance can apply to any of the critical success factors including stakeholder expectations and quality, not just schedule, cost, and scope.
• Action While the prevention aspect has a strong action orientation too, this principle goes hand-in-hand with early detection. For project control to be effective, the detection of a variance must be able to trigger an appropriate and timely response. The three most common action types are corrective actions, change control procedures, and lessons learned. Often, as part of the planning for project control, specific variance thresholds are established that dictate what variances and corrective actions can be managed by the project team and what ones need the immediate attention of senior level management.
To better clarify what is involved with project control, let's review some of the key project management processes that are involved. To reiterate, project control involves more than just these processes. Your leadership, communication, interpersonal, analytical, and team management skills are equally, if not more, important to this endeavor. However, without these fundamental management processes in place, as depicted in Figure 10.1, you will have a much more challenging time.
Lessons learned are important resources for improving performance on the current project and on future projects.
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What you need to know about… Project Management Made Easy! Project management consists of more than just a large building project and can encompass small projects as well. No matter what the size of your project, you need to have some sort of project management. How you manage your project has everything to do with its outcome.