In a series of blogs I will be looking into the issues and the challenges faced by project management professionals regarding project control.
Project control, although considered as very important for the delivery of projects, for many years has not really been described and in many cases is regarded as only one of the sub-disciplines, that of scheduling.
In this first blog I will briefly look into one of the questions / issues: If project control is a department or is it something else?
This variability is unique to project control and the discipline compared to other disciplines within the ‘control’ or the project management environment.
We have projects and project control performed by a number of different disciplines - project planners, quantity surveyors (but not including the planning side), the Project Manager, the person that extracts information from systems and then compiles a report (you can call this the project control report), or the finance person tasked to compile ‘the project control’s report. The confusion increases also from another side, that of job descriptions.
This is because of several influencing factors that affected our project management environment in the mid to late 80s, as well as some strong institutional and contractual influences at that time (and even now).
In this blog I will briefly indicate the four scenarios to be considered with their advantages and disadvantages.
Scenario 1 – A department of Planners/Project Controllers
A department of planners that do both cost and planning, which I will call project controllers, and generate project control information.
Scenario 2 – A combined department of Planners and Quantity Surveyors
A department which includes the two disciplines, Planners and QSs who work together to combine information and produce integrated project control information.
Scenario 3 – Separate disciplines performing project control
In this scenario 3 we have project control viewed as processes / routines performed by a number of disciplines and with the output (reporting) carried out by a separate project control / reporting expert.
Scenario 4 – Decentralised approach led by the Project Manager
In scenario 4 I describe an alternative option where the Project Manager (PM), in a centralised approach, performs the primary project control processes and is supported by others who provide the required information. This is different to the norm of a decentralised project control function where specialist individuals (as described above) are allocated to projects and could / are working with the project team in a matrix structure. However, unless this is supported by all company levels it will fail from its onset.
Combining these with some basic organisational theory, in my book Demystifying Project Control, I propose the most advantageous option that works at both Project / Construction company and Client level.