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Structure of the project control department - By, Dr Dimitris Antoniadis

Friday, 05 June 2020
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As discussed in the earlier blog there are two main functions that are considered as project control. These are scheduling and cost control. In my book ‘Demystifying Project Control’ and chapter 5 I look into how to structure the department and examine two main options, the wider/integrated view and the narrower/separatist view. There are also other points to be considered. Below and briefly, for each of the main options, I expand on / discuss the ‘why’ and the ‘how’ and what the other considerations are.

The wider / integrated view
With this view, scheduling and cost control and all the relevant project management sub-processes and routines are:

  1. Under the same department
  2. In many cases performed by one person.

A wider / integrated project control department, in addition to scheduling and cost control, will also include estimating, risk management, reporting and document control. This approach is especially supported by the improvements in the latest versions of project management software packages and the now possible seamless integration of functional information in the background.

The narrower / separatist view
As is obvious from the heading, there are views, mainly in the UK industry, that support a complete separation between scheduling, cost and the other disciplines / functions and in particular under separate line management.
In this case the challenges are to integrate:

  1. The processes.
  2. The outputs, and most importantly.
  3. The behaviours of the people at all levels.

Having said that, I will attempt to explain, but not support, why this view might have prevailed. Keeping the functions separate you could be aiming to instil constructive conflict where individuals challenge each other on the information, outputs, performance, etc. However, to achieve this you need to have the following right from the beginning:

  1. A well performing team environment with the appropriate behaviours at all levels.
  2. Line management that respects and listens to each other properly.
  3. Proper understanding of the project management processes and accepting the relevant standards.
  4. Adherence to company requirements, which obviously respect and accept the project management standards.

In other chapters I am explaining how integration of information in such an environment is a big challenge and conflict is unavoidable.

3. Other considerations
Obviously these two views on structuring the project control department are at corporate level and in implementing them one must not forget that project control serves above all the project and the project manager.

From the above, it can be seen that the integrated view is much more beneficial to projects. However, this can only be implemented on the scheduling and cost control activities, with the other functions either occasionally brought in or performed by various project team members. For example, the document control / support person takes the responsibility of compiling information for the project reports. In other cases, like for example risk management, the risk manager visits the project for the risk workshops, or the project management carries out this function.

Considering how the project control department has to be structured is not as straight forward as is considered by the majority. This is not only because of the services that are delivered and how, but also because of all the other things that need to be considered by line management and the company. Some of the points that need to be considered are, the continuous development of project controllers, their career progression, interactions and interfaces with other departments, information systems and their management and several other issues.

Dr Dimitris Antoniadis
PhD, MSc, BEng
CEng FAPM FCMI MIMechE
Website: www.danton-progm.co.uk
Email address: dnanton00@gmail.com or danton@danton-progm.co.uk


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