Project Management

Stop Complaining About Project Controls

Andy Jordan is President of Roffensian Consulting S.A., a Roatan, Honduras-based management consulting firm with a comprehensive project management practice. Andy always appreciates feedback and discussion on the issues raised in his articles and can be reached at [email protected]. Andy's new book Risk Management for Project Driven Organizations is now available.

One area where project managers are often uncomfortable is the area of project controls. That’s a broad term, but for the purposes of this article I’m referring to the aspects of the role that seek to monitor and govern the work being done: time tracking, task progress and status, etc. New PMs in particular are often also new managers in general, and they can feel uncomfortable monitoring the activity of the team at this level.

That’s understandable in some ways. It feels as if the PM is saying that they don’t trust their team and needs to check up on them to make sure they are doing what they should be. That goes against the whole concept of building trust and empowering the team to drive the work for themselves, which is such a focus on modern projects. But I firmly believe that these controls are necessary and important. The problem is usually how they are positioned.

Let’s take time tracking as an example. I don’t see that as a way to check up on a team member to see how many hours they have worked on a task, or how much time they are spending on project items versus other work. Rather, I see it as a way to ensure that the team isn’t being stretched too far, that the estimates and expectations are reasonable, and that the distribution of work is as effective as it can be.

These should all be viewed as positives. They are a …

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