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morning) or discussed at biweekly status review meetings. Discourage project team members from calling or
writing to you whenever they wish to announce baseline changes.
Track baseline changes for three reasons: to wave red flags, to document and analyze problems, and to
negotiate for assistance in the most effective way. When your project gets into a crisis, do not hesitate to
address baseline changes. It is time-consuming to rework the plans, reissue them, and deal with the questions
as to why the baselines are not consistent with the plan. However, this is the juncture at which you as a project
manager need to take a bold, calculated view of reality and its impact on the balance of the project.
Establish your own baseline change procedure by following these guidelines:
Key Guidelines for Establishing a Baseline Change Procedure
• The person who is responsible for processing baseline changes should also coordinate the change
among project team members.
• Attempt to make baseline changes on a scheduled basis rather than at random.
• Do not ignore the formal baseline change process when the project gets into a crisis.
• Communicate the changes that have been made to various levels, the rest of the team members, and
the client.
• Establish predefined authority and approval points. For example, you can authorize slippage in a
task as long as it has float, but go to the client before slipping the entire project completion date.
• Define reserves in time, resources, or dollars.
• Allow changes to be made by authorized personnel only. The functional manager can authorize a
change in personnel, but a team member can™t arbitrarily trade off with someone else.
• Consider possible side effects before approving any change.
• Study alternatives. Work within the constraints given. Ask for tradeoffs only when absolutely
necessary.
• Don™t be afraid to change the baseline when necessary.
• Don™t overreact. Wait for the baseline change to take effect and its impact to be evaluated before
implementing another change.
• Document the change thoroughly: when it was made, why, and by whom it was approved. This will
help explain the rationale of decisions later and will help build a better history base for future
reference.
• Track the change to ensure that there are no unanticipated ramifications.



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Project Management
by Joan Knudson and Ira Bitz
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ISBN: 0814450431 Pub Date: 01/01/91

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Title
Chapter 7
A Model for Project Control
In this chapter, we address an old project management adage: “Plan the work-now work the plan.” Once a
-----------
project has been properly defined, carefully worded in a scope document, and detailed according to a plan,
you as project manager enter into what is commonly referred to as the project management control cycle. The
key questions you must answer now are: Where are we? Where do we want to be? How do we get there? Are
we getting there?
In more technical terms, the question “Where are we?” asks for an assessment of the current status of the
project. “Where do we want to be?” asks for a comparison of the actual progress made against the baseline
project plan. “How do we get there?” asks for a consideration of possible corrective actions that could put the
project back on track, if necessary, or help keep it there. And “Are we getting there?” asks for an analysis of
the impact these corrective actions will have or are having on the project.
We first look at the transition between the planning process and the controlling process. Next, we discuss the
differences between formal and informal control, which leads into a discussion of what specifically belongs in
a controlling model. We also provide a series of guidelines to support the five stages of the controlling
process: updating the status, analyzing the impact, acting on the variances, publishing the revisions, and
informing management.
The last part of the chapter discusses “who”: who should be responsible for what parts of the controlling
process. The team members, of course, have a role within the process. What is that role? And is there a
rationale for employing project control specialists? What might they contribute to this process?

Transition From Planning to Controlling
A project manager does not stop planning at 5 P.M. one day and commence controlling the next morning at 9
A.M. without orchestrating the environment so that the project can be managed ” that is, so that the relevant
parties are involved and aware of the rules. Four steps belong on your transition checklist:
Transition Steps From Planning to Controlling
1. Validate plans.
2. Obtain sign-offs and freeze plans.
3. Resell the benefits of project management.
4. Create a project notebook.

Step 1: Validate plans. Before issuing the final set of plans, ensure that the plans appear to be reasonable.
Figure 7-1 provides a list of items you may want to consider. Add more items as you see fit. Validating plans
also includes updating status since work on the project may have commenced prior to the completion of the
planning.
Step 2: Obtain sign-offs and freeze plans. Sign-off procedures are a very important part of the process. More
than likely, there will be questions from those who must approve the plan. There will be fewer questions if
you have involved all the parties during the development of the plan; formatted the plan as clearly and as
professionally as possible; set up a formalized approval process; provided time for approval; and
communicated, communicated, communicated.




Figure 7-1. Validation of plans: project management system, general purpose.
In many organizations it is difficult to get clients, functional managers, and even team members to sign off or
to freeze the plans. They are afraid that their signature will be held as a club over their head. If they change
their minds, they see the plan, now frozen, as an impediment. Explain that an approved plan as the baseline is
a prerequisite to controlling a project. Remember that the baseline is valid at the moment it is approved; is not
set in concrete; should be considered a flexible management tool; is the basis for a warning signal of potential
problems looming ahead; and can be renegotiated with the proper documentation and professional
presentation.
Step 3: Resell the benefits of project management. At this point in the project™s evolution, it may be important
to resell the benefits of project management. Those involved have slogged their way through technical and
political issues in order to produce the plan; they have exerted time and effort, and finally the long-awaited
moment has arrived for the project to get underway ” at least the meaningful part of the project, which in
their minds is the design and development of the end product. They may need encouragement that all their
effort was not wasted and that these plans will help support them during the upcoming control process. The
following benefits may help sustain that buy-in and commitment:
Benefits of the Project Plan for the Control Cycle
• The plan ensures that no major tasks have been forgotten.
• The plan indicates clearly the assignment of responsibility, accountability, and authority.
• The plan predefines the interdependencies of tasks one to another, and thus functional
interdependencies as well.
• The plan becomes a yardstick against which to measure status and, ultimately, to judge the success
or failure of the project, the project manager, and the project team members.
• The plan, which will now be used as a monitoring, tracking, and controlling tool, becomes a vehicle
for communication and control.

Step 4: Create a project notebook. If you have not already done this, take some time before the controlling
process begins to organize the project notebook. Set aside sections for the project definition, communication
plan, task descriptions (work breakdown structure), estimates of each task and the background rationale, an
ongoing list of assumptions, an ongoing history log of change control and baseline changes, status reports,
and project summary (which will be produced at the end of the project).

Formal and Informal Control
The project plan is complete. It has been presented to senior management (and perhaps a client) and has been
approved. Work on the project is about to commence. It is time to ensure that the change management
procedure is in place and being adhered to by both client and project team. And it is time to define how you
will control the work during the project™s execution.
A common belief is that formal project control, which includes status reporting at the end of a week, month,
or accounting period, is the most effective means of controlling the project™s progress. This is not the case.
The most effective control is exercised daily (or almost daily) through your interaction with project team
members. A formal control, at the close of a week, month, or accounting period, serves other purposes.


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Performing Informal Project Control
Title

Informal control is not a new idea. For years, construction project managers have walked the job, observed
work in process, and talked to the personnel doing this work. In 1982, Tom Peters and Bob Waterman
popularized the concept, which they labeled “management by wandering around,” in their book, In Search of
----------- Excellence.1 Informal control has a number of benefits:
1In Search of Excellence: Lessons from America™s Best-Run Companies (New York: Warner Books, 1982).

Benefits of Informal Control
• You learn a lot more than you do by sitting at your desk.
• You meet people in their habitat, where they may be more open and honest than they are in your
office or a conference room.
• You are highly visible to all project staff, not just your direct subordinates. You are more of a team
member.
• Your team will be delighted to explain their latest successful efforts. Nothing begets success like
success. The more you make them feel good about their accomplishments, the more they will try to
accomplish.
• You learn of brewing problems faster than waiting for them to appear on a status report or in a
meeting.
• You develop a sixth sense for what is normal within the team and then can discern potential
problems.

There is one caution: resist the urge to micro-manage by giving direction on the spot or skipping a level of
management by making decisions that are the responsibility of someone else in the project team. You
undermine the project organization you yourself established and give mixed messages to the project team as
to whom they are to follow.
Under most circumstances, informal control should be performed on a daily basis or as close to it as possible
given your schedule. Informal control is the interaction between you and your team members, during which
you have an increased awareness of the project™s current condition, in addition to items that need immediate
attention. If you do not have time to perform informal project control, then the project will suffer.
As you interact with your team, its members can ask questions and present problems. Informal control should
have the effect of increasing the team™s accessibility to you.
When performing informal control, you are forming a mental image of the project™s status or condition and
comparing this image to the project plan. You are also forming a mental image of the project™s future: a
forecast that is used to determine if the project is in trouble in any way. From this mental comparison, you can
determine if there is a need for corrective and/or preventive actions.
Corrective and/or preventive actions may be taken as part of the process of informal control. As you work
with project team members, solicit potential solutions to current problems, evaluate them with the team, and
take any necessary action. Furthermore, you can use informal control as a means of evaluating the
effectiveness of previously implemented solutions to problems. The image of the project™s condition that you
form during informal control is carried over to the formal control process.
Your accessibility is the key to informal control. If you are inaccessible, you won™t learn of issues that are in
need of attention.

Performing Formal Project Control
Formal project control is a newer concept than informal control, and it™s more of a paper than a mental
exercise. Formal control can be performed by week, month, or accounting period through the use of project
reports. Be careful that you don™t perform formal control too frequently, since the time and effort involved in
it can prevent you from performing frequent informal control.
In formal project control, you are gathering data about recently completed tasks as well as in-process tasks.
These data are used to produce status reports that indicate project performance up to the control cycle cutoff
date and to prepare analysis or forecast reports based on experiences in performing the work to date.
These status and analysis reports can serve as the basis for negotiating preventive and corrective actions in
dealing with problems being experienced in the execution of the work. Once the required preventive or
corrective actions have been taken, status and analysis reports incorporating those actions are used as the basis
for preparing summary senior management and client reports. Thus, the periodic reports give you the
information necessary to keep all concerned parties informed of the project™s condition.

Formal and Informal Control: A Comparison
The steps in formal and informal control processes are the same: data are collected concerning recently
completed tasks as well as tasks underway; status reports (historical in nature) are prepared either mentally or
on paper and are used to forecast future performance on the project; these forecasts form the basis for
determining the need for corrective or preventive actions, which are then negotiated between project manager
and project team members, and possibly with the client.
The most obvious differences between formal and informal control are medium, effort, and frequency. The
medium for informal control is the mind (although with user-friendly microcomputer-based project
management software, often project managers make copies of the most recent plans and assess the impact of
variances on the screen as well as in the mind).
The effort associated with informal and formal control depends in part on the state of the project. In both
types of control, less effort is required if the project is in good condition and being accomplished in
accordance with the plan. If the project is in trouble, more effort is required by both project manager and
team. The monthly effort associated with informal control can be measured in minutes per day. Monthly effort
connected with formal control is measured in hours per month, with most of the work occurring shortly after
the close of the formal reporting period. In reality, informal control may require as much effort as formal
control or even more, but the effort is spread out.
Frequency of informal control can be determined by the project manager, depending on time constraints and
the general condition of the project. In most cases, it will occur daily or almost daily. The frequency of formal
control is determined by management and the client, who dictate the intervals between the formal status
reports they expect to receive. In most cases, the formal control period is by month or accounting period.
In order to reconcile the results of formal and informal control, compare the status and analysis reports to the
mental image of the project condition you have formed during informal control. The reports and the image
should be consistent with each other, and there should be no surprises in the formal status and analysis
reports. If there are, you need to increase the frequency of informal control.


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Project Management
by Joan Knudson and Ira Bitz
AMACOM Books
ISBN: 0814450431 Pub Date: 01/01/91

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Relative Effectiveness of Formal and Informal Control
Title

To determine the relative effectiveness of formal and informal control, it is necessary to make several
assumptions. Let™s consider a case in which the organization performs formal control on a monthly basis and
the project manager, who has a wide range of responsibilities, performs informal control only once every
----------- three or four days. Assume that these broad responsibilities make it difficult for project team members to get
the project manager™s attention other than during formal or informal control interactions.
A problem in performing project work occurs on the sixth working day of the period. The team member
experiencing this problem has previously met with frustration in trying to contact the project manager.
Therefore, the team member makes no attempt now to communicate directly and immediately with the project
manager.
Under the formal control scenario, the project manager learns of the problem in the status report for the
current period, which (optimistically) is prepared on the fifth working day of the next period. In that case,
somewhere between twenty-seven and thirty calendar days have passed between the onset of the problem and
the project manager™s awareness of it. During that period, if the project manager is lucky, the problem has not
become worse. On the other hand, the situation may have become considerably worse. The team member has
been trying to solve the problem but lacks the necessary authority and resources. Now that the problem has
finally been brought to the attention of the project manager, it will be dealt with effectively ” but at higher
cost in money and resources.
Under informal control, the project manager learns of the problem within one to three days after the team
member has discovered it and can immediately exert some authority and resources to solve the problem. Since
the problem has had little time to ripen, dealing with it may not be costly. The impact of the problem on the
end date and cost at completion of the project will be less, and the organization will be better off because the
problem has been solved in less time and at lower cost.
Both informal and formal control processes are needed, but informal can be much more important to effective
project management.

Creating a Sense of Importance and Consequence
As you employ both the formal and the informal project control approaches, be sure to create a sense of
importance and consequence from the very beginning of the project. We know that on Day 1, eighteen months
looks like a long way off. However, if you are complacent about getting the project done, the rest of the team
will be, too. You can generate a sense of urgency in several ways:
Ways to Generate a Sense of Urgency
• Have a high level of focused energy from Day 1.
• Let the team know you are looking at the big picture as well as details.
• Hurry to get ahead (don™t wait to catch up).
• Hold frequent staff meetings at which you exhibit this sense of importance and consequence.
• Hold daily meetings as needed where the action is.
• Give a firm time limit for problem solution.
• Post schedules, highlighting slippages in prominent, visible areas for all to see.

Performing formal and informal control is not an either-or situation. Both are required for effective project
management. But remember that they serve different purposes. Problems surface quickly with informal
control, which affords the opportunity to deal with them before they ripen. Formal control checks the
adequacy of informal control and confirms what the project manager already knows about the project. It is the
basis of developing and delivering summary status reports for senior management and the client. To be
successful as a project manager, you must do both, and do them well.

A Five-Step Model for Project Control
Tracking and managing the project means taking steps to ensure that actual performance conforms to the
project plan. The basic tools for controlling the project are the project definition (which serves as a contract
for measuring the success of the project, the end product, and the project manager); the project plan, schedule,
resource plan, and budget; and status reports, which indicate work in progress and problems. The project plan
serves as a road map for the project team™s efforts; it sets expectations. Your job is to see that those
expectations are met. Let™s look at each of the five stages in the controlling process:
Five-Step Model for Project Control
1. Update the status.
2. Analyze the impact.
3. Act on the variances.
4. Publish the revisions.
5. Inform management.

Step 1: Update the Status
Use the systems you™ve put into place to track work accomplishment and costs and to assess the quality of the
work being done. Also look at the morale and productivity of the project team. Your job as the project
manager during the controlling process is to concentrate on the progress of the schedule, costs, quality, human
resource allocation, fixed costs, materials, and supplies.
Updating the status focuses on collecting the information necessary to assess performance on the project and
posting the information. The data, collected from the members of the project team, the cost accounting
system, and the time reporting system, are then posted so that they can be compared to the plan. The nature of
the posting process depends on the manual or automated project management system being used.
Data requirements vary; completed tasks, tasks in process, and future tasks each must be examined somewhat
differently. The schedule, resource utilization, cost, and achievement status reports are produced as a result of
the updating. Let™s first discuss mechanisms for collecting data and then how to decide the form and
substance of status reports.

Confirm or Set Up Mechanisms for Collecting Data
Mechanisms need to be in place to collect data for schedules, deliverables, costs, and problems. This
information can come from several sources:
Sources for Collecting Data
• Project manager interviews: The project manager interviews each member of the team to determine
the status of the tasks to which each member is assigned.
• Person holding prime responsibility: Task owners update the project baselines for which they are
accountable and submit them to the project manager, who then prepares a consolidated project status
report.
• Status review meetings: All members of the team inform the project manager and each other of
tasks begun, tasks completed, tasks behind schedule, and any potential problems.
• Personnel time reports, time cards, or time logs: Project team members fill out the reports. The data
are correlated and consolidated in a master status report.



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by Joan Knudson and Ira Bitz
AMACOM Books
ISBN: 0814450431 Pub Date: 01/01/91

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These four sources do not excuse you from walking around or from maintaining one-on-one communication.
Title
If there is no mechanism in place, you must develop a medium for collecting data. If you design your own
data collection forms:
• Make them simple and easy to complete.
• Ensure that all the information is pertinent.
-----------
• Confirm that those preparing the information understand how it will be utilized and the need for their
input.
• Make sure people are aware of its end use.

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