Seven practical tips for effective Project Monitoring and Controlling
Chetana Koulagi, PMP
From a process standpoint, monitoring and control of a project seems straightforward. Nonetheless, the implementation of this process calls for far more maturity and skill from the project manager. While a diligent plan and good execution makes monitoring and controlling a much simpler job, there are many aspects which if unattended to, can lead to pitfalls – such as not knowing the true status of project, not able to predict realistic timelines and in turn not meeting project objectives and losing the confidence of stakeholders.
Listed below are seven practical tips that come in handy during this exercise.
1. Hope is good – but is not a strategyYou are working towards a stringent project timeline. You and your team are sincerely trying hard to meet those timelines. But there are things which have not worked out; there are things which may not work out. You are hopeful that you will make it. However, every time you are extending a timeline by 3-4 days, and not able to meet it again.
“Unless it is usable by the next step in the process, it is not complete. Define what means ‘complete’ for every deliverable.”
Stop – take a moment – take an honest accounting and fair assessment of the situation. How realistic are the timelines considering the current issues and risks? Do not assume the status quo as ‘way of work’. Challenge the constraints – see if they can be relaxed or released. Negotiate. Communicate. Build a plan. Develop a realistic schedule.
2. Get into Details – Devil is in the details
Take your head out of laptop! Sit with a paper and pen, draw those charts, draw those dependencies, review that work breakdown structure. Talk to people. Get into details.
3. It’s complete – Be sure what means ‘complete’
Unless it is usable by the next step in the process, it is not complete. Define what means ‘complete’ for every deliverable. Unless the deliverable is complete – the status is not ‘green’ – just because you have done your part. If the client or other party has not done their part, it is still not complete – it is ‘red’. Likewise, a point discussed is not a point agreed. Make sure you have concurrence on all key decisions and agreements with key stakeholders. And if none of the activities in future is waiting for this deliverable, action or decision, check whether you really need it!
4. Don’t let go – hit the nail on its head
When will it get done? Is there any bottleneck? What’s required to get it done? How will it impact if it gets delayed? Ask those critical and tough questions. Get the answers. Get commitment.
5. Prioritize, Focus – but don’t ignore future
While you prioritize and focus on current issues, do not lose sight of future challenges. Do not miss an opportunity to plan ahead and manage better.
6. Try your best – but with a sense of timeliness
Another concern is ‘waiting’ – even if it means indefinitely! If you or any team member finds oneself wanting some clarification, action, help to get things done, do not wait until an opportunity for you all to get together – such as weekly meetings etc. Speak up. Call up. Get in touch. Escalate timely. Take decisions timely. Make sure you have the right stakeholders in discussion who can take decisions. Communicate to the team and customer timely.
7. It’s about people finally – Lead them
Last on the list, but definitely not the least, do not ignore people factor. Especially during monitoring and controlling of project, especially if things are not going as per plan, there may be many reasons to point fingers at; there may be many reasons to misunderstand or to be misunderstood. Intention of discussing any problem is not to blame anyone. The objective should be to address the issue. Many a time you would find people in status meetings debating over a point for hours only to realize later that they were never in disagreement!
Seek clarification before debating on your interpretation. As much as it might sound a cliché, attack the problem rather than the person. Lead them to the solution rather than create another problem.
The right approach with a right attitude can help the Project Manager to gather and comprehend the true status of project and plan ahead considering the
realities on the ground.