How to Manage a Project

Control & Reporting

Additional Materials

Project Control Overview     

A key feature of good project management is achieving a balance between too much and too little project control. At one extreme an "over-control" of projects can result in too much bureaucracy and a lack of delegation, and at the other extreme an "under-control" can result in  misunderstandings and lack of delivery. Its a matter of achieving an appropriate balance.

 The key elements in project control are:

  1. Project Briefs/Project Proposals
    Used to ensure that the projects undertaken are sensible and viable
     
  2. Project Plans
    Summarising the conclusions of the project scoping study.
     
  3. Progress Control Meetings & Reports
    To keep people up to date on the progress of the project
     
  4. Delegations, Authorisations, and Contract Management Strategy
    To ensure that expenditures are controlled within the organisations financial procedures

1.    Project Briefs/Project Proposals

The aim of a project proposal is to ensure that the projects undertaken are sensible and viable, and that others know about them. Following a Project Proposal Stage, a short Project Brief or Project Proposal Report would be presented to the Sponsor - in most cases a line manager, or project board/steering group.

Typically, it would address some or all of the following key questions.

  • What is the rationale for doing this - what problem, issue or opportunity is the project addressing?
  • What options are there for tackling this? Is the solution proposed really practical?
  • Who are the key stakeholders and what are their positions/reactions?
  • In broad terms, what will it require from us in terms of resources and time?

It would include a project brief to set up the delivery stages of the project, covering what is to be delivered by when, who is to be the project manager and project sponsor, and what resources are to be committed.    


2.    Project Plan    

The aim of a Project Plan (or Project Scoping Report) is to summarise and present the Project Mangers views as to what the project is about, what the issues are, what tasks need to be done and the resources needed. In particular, it should establish and agree the project objectives and terms of reference.

The Project Plan should include a section on project control, identifying of end-of-stage stocktake points - critical points at which stocktake and review meetings should be held between the Project Manger and the Sponsor.


3.    Progress Control Meetings & Reports

There are a variety of control mechanisms traditionally used in project management to help the Project Manager to keep track of project progress and identify areas that need attention. Project managers rarely use them all - they tailor their project control from them to suit their particular project. In this area one simply cannot avoid delving into the detail - that is where slippage will take place. A selection from:

Project Progress Meetings

To keep the key people up to date on progress and to highlight any deviations from plan.

Project Progress Reports

To keep the key people up to date on progress and to highlight any deviations from plan.

Project Plans and updates

To enable the project manager to remain up to date on progress and identify and deviations from plan.

Cost Budgets and Update

To enable the project manager to remain up to date on progress and identify and deviations from plan.


4.    Delegations and Authorisations, and Contract Management Strategy      

When the Project Plan is being discussed by the Project Manager and Sponsor, they should agree any delegations and authorisations needed - particularly if significant finance is involved.

If the organisation undertakes numerous project involving the use of contracts, the they need make available the company guidance and rules for contract management the Project Manager can access and follow.