Executives, business heads, portfolio managers in enterprises always know that Large and complex projects have to go through scrutiny. Any project can face issues, roadblocks, come across potential risk. A lot of things (resources, money and credibility among others) are at stake. And thatís the reason there is a greater need for better project control; to bring predictability and consistency in successful project delivery. It is almost like you are taking a large ship trans-continental sea route, you know your destination but the journey is not particularly predictable and easy one.
Classical way to look at project control, mostly remains the same! It is primarily about managing project scope, project cost and project timeline. But as an executive who is overseeing portfolio of projects, project control is more than that. You have to focus on right managers, right team, right data, regular review and change management.
Having right people in your project team is half battle won. For appropriate project control, you will have to look at correct, real project data. The correct project data would come from team meetings and project management software. Letís look at top six ways of better project control and management.
Project manager is the captain of the ship who has to steer the ship through troubled waters i.e. project control and drive. The most appropriate choice for project manager who can manage and guide project team in technical perspective at the same time will speak the tone of business case, business proposition/value to customers/executive management. Team should feel project manager as one of their own technical senior who can guide and mentor at the same time, executives & project sponsors should entrust project manager to understand, deliver business objectives/ goals.
Captain of the ship, no matter if highly skilled and well experienced, s/he alone cannot navigate/run the ship all the time. He needs rightly skilled crew members who can report bad/good weather, high/low tide, engine capacity/thrust, etc.
As most experienced and successful leaders say you won half the battle if you have got right team to work for you (like Jack Welch said about team building). Directing & guiding team members in order to control project will be easier if project team is well equipped, experienced and skilled to just-get-things-done. If team is loyal, committed and passionate about its work, project team members will go extra miles to meet project goals. But you need to ensure you respect them and reward them well.
The biggest challenge project face during its normal course is scope creep. If you let the scope creep, you may be able to please few stakeholders for that moment but it can endanger the whole project in longer run in terms of cost overrun, slipped timeline and or low team morale. The working team should take hard stand to resist scope change. It is always better to spend extra time in requirement gathering, validating it than accommodating in later phase.
The simple guideline to follow for better project control is asking following questions
"If I have to do this, will it help us to meet project objective/goal" alternatively "If I donít do this, will it prevent us from delivering the desired business benefits?"
And if you are looking for clear Yes or No answers to above questions, you should have clear strategic goals and objectives for your projects.
As I mentioned earlier, better project control is possible with better decisions and decision can be taken RIGHT, if project manager/portfolio managers have correct data with them. It is important for project manager to have reliable inputs, status update, and requirement details shared by stakeholders.
As time changes, we need to adopt newer technologies for better project control. Today, there are sophisticated project management software along with communication medium/platform that provide clear project information/project data to project team members, customers, project managers and executive management. For better project control, start using right project management software, and other technological platform.
Project execution is largely about following schedule and then responding to changes. Managing change request during project execution involves trade-offs, prioritization and managing conflict. Well-designed change management process enables better project control. Since there are multiple interest and forces are at work, project managers have to be tactful and resolve conflicts.