The Fundamentals of Monitoring, Controlling, and Reporting against Project Schedule
Control of a project is imperative to on-time and in-budget delivery. Monitoring and control of a project falls into three areas:
- Monitoring of progress against milestones
- Control of budget
- Reporting of project progress
Monitoring of progress against milestones
Critical path analysis will have identified all project related milestones, and analysed their importance. Analytical techniques such as continual monitoring on a Gantt chart or milestones table will help identify slippage in time sensitive tasks and maintain project progress. Measuring this slippage against pre-set tolerances helps identify where, how, and when corrective action needs to be taken.
Control of budget
There are several monitoring techniques available to the project manager to help control budget.
Pareto analysis theorises that 20% of any project will constitute 80% of labour and material costs. By identifying this 20%, a project manager can concentrate monitoring efforts on those tasks that have greatest impact to time and cost along the critical path.
S-curve analysis identifies trends in costs and the differences between the planned and actual spend associated with the project.
Earned Value Analysis (EVA) compares spending to schedule, using a number of analysis formulae to calculate cost and schedule variances, as well as performance indicators, in attempts to provide a value-for-money comparison.
Reporting of project progress
Reporting of project progress is essential to maintenance of schedule and cost. Reporting by all stakeholders – the project team, contractors, suppliers, specialists – should follow set guidelines and be produced to the same standard by all. This enables clear and clean analysis of progress.
Reports may be formal and informal, but should always be accompanied by an indication of progress confirmed by evidence. Trends of progress and issues arising are monitored and mitigating actions taken to keep the project on schedule and budget.
Most important in this process is change control, with all change requests properly documented, reported, and actioned. This helps monitor scope creep, as well as being an indicator of team management problems.
Effective Project Managers Monitor and Control
By monitoring project progress with standardised techniques, a project manager is better able to control its progress. Progress reporting at the task level enables the project manager to build a higher level picture of project progress trends in both schedule and budget performance. When measured against the critical path, corrective actions are more easily identified and put into action. The result is successful project delivery.