Project Control Definitions


Project Control Definitions

European Construction Institute, 2002. Project Controls Value Enhancing Practice, High Loughborough, UK. ECI

Project Control is a planned and systematic process for:

  • • The setting and monitoring of targets
  • • Analysis of performance
  • • Identification and anticipation of inefficiencies
  • • Implementation of preventative and remedial actions.

AACE International, 2016. Recommended Practice No. 10S-90 Cost Engineering Terminology. Morgantown, WV. AACE International.

PROJECT CONTROL – A management process for controlling the investment of resources in an asset where investments are made through the execution of a project. Project control includes the general steps of: 1) Project planning including establishing project cost and schedule control baselines; 2) Measuring project performance; 3) Comparing measurement against the project plans; and 4) Taking corrective, mitigating, or improvement action as may be determined through forecasting and further planning activity.


PMBOK Guide Fifth Edition

A project management function that involves comparing actual performance with planned performance, analysing variances, assessing trends to effect process improvements, evaluating possible alternatives, and recommending appropriate corrective action as needed.

Carson, C, Oakander, P., Relyea, C. (ed). CPM Scheduling for Construction Best Practice and Guidelines. Newtown Square, PA: Project Management Institute

Project Control: The continuous process of (1) monitoring work progress; (2) comparing it to baseline schedule and baseline budget [what was supposed to happen or what was planned]; (3) finding any variances (deviations from baselines), whwere and how much, and analysing the variances to find out the causes; then (4) taking corrective actions wherever necessary to bring the project back on schedule and within budget.

Association for Project Management, 2008. Introduction to Project Control, Princes Risborough,UK. APM Publishing.

The APM Body of Knowledge, 5th edition defines project management as “The process by which projects are defined, planned, monitored, controlled and delivered so that agreed benefits are realised.”
The project management ‘process’ is a combination of numerous individual processes, many of which relate to the subsidiary discipline of project control.
Much of what a project manager does is directly or indirectly related to project control, but the APM Body of Knowledge, 5th edition does not explicitly define project control and it is rather difficult to arrive at a concise definition.
One possible definition of project control is:

The application of processes to measure project performance against the project plan, to enable variances to be identified and corrected, so that project objectives are achieved.

This covers the ‘monitored’ and ‘controlled’ elements of project management as defined by the APM Body of Knowledge, 5th edition and essentially means “making sure projects are done right”. However, there is more to it than that. This publication proposes that an equally important part of control is “doing the right projects”, both individually and in programmes and portfolios. This ensures that the projects which are undertaken by an organisation:• deliver the right products, thereby;

  • • Contributing to the required new capabilities, and hence;
  • • Providing the desired benefits to the organisation.

A wider definition of project control is therefore:

The application of project, programme and portfolio management processes within a framework of project management governance to enable an organisation to do the right projects and to do them right

BCECA – British Chemical Engineering Association

Project Control Mangers Committee - Project Controls Definition

Project Controls is the collective description applied to that group of technical disciplines that are responsible for defining and communicating project baselines, monitoring and reporting against them and recommending corrective action when deviations occur or are projected to occur.

Those included disciplines are:

  • • Estimating
  • • Cost Engineering
  • • Planning and Scheduling

To achieve this they draw on the relevant areas of engineering and commercial practice, and relevant historical experience


The dimension of any Project Control organisation will internally be defined by the elements that comprise the make up of the baselines for which it is the keeper.

  • • Scope
  • • Schedule
  • • Cost
  • • Contract

Externally Project Controls should promote and engage in professional associations both specific to and allied to the E & C industry, embrace further knowledge and technology enhancement, and introduction and development of future generations into the profession.


Objectives of a fully functioning Project Controls group or organisation in the E & C industry can be defined as :
Providing timely, pertinent and objective management information.
Promoting team understanding of and commitment to project/organisational objectives including scope, cost and schedule baselines.
Demonstrate commitment to work cost estimation, scheduling and budgeting that conform to international standards and do not compromise the health and safety well-being of those that will be performing at the work-faces. Creating pre-emptive awareness of potential problem areas, which may give rise to deviations from any one or combination of the established baselines, and develop/propose solutions to those trends.
Facilitate team communication, and commercial understanding of the execution deal.
Support informed management decision-making.
Creating value added to short- term project executions and longer term enterprise wide objectives for both Owners and Contractor.
Conduct business in a manner that upholds the highest standards of business ethics and integrity.


Project Controls spans the full width and breadth of the EPC processes and embraces interfaces with technical and financial disciplines, internally, and upstream and downstream of the employing entities relative position, very often on an international basis.

Reporting directly to the Project Manager/Director creates a privileged position from which to facilitate the management and execution of a venture, and as such must be conducted with the highest standard of ethics and business practice.

More definitions from community

Project Controls is a process that encompasses the resources, procedures, and tools for the planning, monitoring, and controlling of all phases of the capital project lifecycle. This includes estimating, cost and schedule management, risk management, change management, earned value progressing, and forecasting. 

Project controls, it is all about providing the right information, at right time, at the right level to assist project leaders to make the right decisions. Many professionals still struggle to understand project controls real value add for project success. It is simple, Project controls provide 3 things:

  • • Early warning
  • • Accurate forecast
  • • Effective change and risk control Project controllers may not have a crystal ball that can predict the project’s future but have tools and expertise that can help to make the right decision, at right time.

  We are the group that keeps the project driving between the ditches. 

Project Controls closes the GAP between Project Management and Construction Management to achieve the ultimate goal.  

Project Controls is the medium in which project performance and decision-makers integrate. It is a critical friend, aiming to assure truth and advise on future achievability. They do this through a deep comprehension of people, process and analysis.  

As simple and obvious as it may seem, it is a very complex definition, which shows the degree of knowledge and experience that a person has in the field of project control. Culture is also a determining factor in the definition. Ideas and concepts are worth launching! 

Project Controls is about systematic analysis of progress and performance data on capital projects. by: identifying the right data for scrutinising progress; setting baseline targets; tracking progress and performance; forecasting trends; identifying, modeling, and anticipating deviations from baseline; assessing the impact of design/construction changes, and using insight to recommend early preventative and remedial actions. 

It's all about volume of work done (VOWD) and the cost to complete the contractual scope of work as per schedule. 

Project Controls is all about data and communication. 

Project Controls is the art that turns Project Management into a science. 

Project Controls are the trusted advisors of the Project Managers, helping them to steer through the challenges of delivery, mapping the path of where they have been, where they are going and the cost of getting there. 

Project Controls is eyes and ears of project management helping to deliver projects on time, budget with no surprises. 

Project Control is the function that reduces entropy by bringing order It can be compared to the control unit in a car where you plug in the cable and it gives you all the information on where a problem is in order to fix it 

Project Controls is simple. Plan the work. Work the plan. Al the tools already exist and stated in contract or PO Exhibits or Appendixes 

Lets understand further with different analogies- courtesy Project Chatter Podcast

Project Controls is like a Police force 

Project Controls are the police of the project. When the project and Project Managers are in trouble and need help Project Controls is there to help get it/them out of trouble and assist the project when bad things happen.
Additionally, if the delivery team is intentionally looking to do something out of governance then Project Controls is there to (figuratively) slap the PM on the wrist and say “no, you can’t and should not do that”. 

The Project is a car, The PM is the owner, and Project Controls is the chauffeur 

If the project is a car and the Project Manager (PM) owns the car but the Project Controls Manager (PCM) is the chauffeur then the car goes nowhere without both being in alignment. The PM as the owner provides the destination and deadlines while the PCM as subject matter expert navigates the fastest, safest and most economical route.  The car doesn’t move without the PMs instruction and the car can’t move easily wihtout the PCM who holds the keys. 

If a project was a golf game, Project Controls is the Caddie 

In golf, a caddie is the person who carries a player’s bag and clubs, and gives insightful advice and moral support. Not too dissimilar to the role Project Controls plays on projects in supplying analysis, advice and being a sounding board for decisions.
Who then is the “player”? Well the Project Manager of course and like golf the biggest opponent is often him/herself.

If the Project was a rally car, the PM is the Driver and the PCM is the Co-driver 

The PM as driver is in full control of the steering wheel, accelerator and brakes but without the PCM navigating and assisting the PM on turns and bends it becomes increasingly difficult and unsafe.  The PCM needs to know the map and terrain extremely well and the relationship and communication with the PM has to be in total alignment to be able to go at maximum speed. 

Project Controls is the conscience of a project 

Your own conscience judges how moral your actions are and makes you feel guilty when you do bad things. It’s the thing that guides us as individuals to do the right thing. Project Controls in many ways is best placed for this role on projects. Whether or not you listen to your conscience is a different debate! 

Project Controls is a Critical Friend 

“A critical friend can be defined as a trusted person who asks provocative questions, provides data to be examined through another lens, and offers critiques of a person’s work as a friend. A critical friend takes the time to fully understand the context of the work presented and the outcomes that the person or group is working toward. The friend is an advocate for the success of that work.”