Sometimes it can be difficult to determine how well your Project Team’s project control process is actually working. Is your team constantly occupied with too many tasks to manage and not enough people to get everything done? Do your projects come in late more often than they’re on time? Are you spending so much energy responding to last-minute problems that you aren’t able to focus on your current tasks? Has the team’s mood started to slip?
Whether you’re looking for opportunities to improve or simply trying to keep your head above water, we’ve put together a checklist to help you measure the effectiveness of your current control methodology.
If you can’t answer “yes” to every item on this list, your process may need a boost before schedule delays, missed expectations, a drop in quality, or budget overruns push your project—and your team’s morale—into serious trouble.
- You receive early warnings if an activity is likely to be delayed.
The Project Team shouldn’t be dealing with schedule changes or other issues at the last minute. It’s a recipe for inefficiency and poor decision making that can cause the entire project schedule to fall behind. Because too many project management methodologies confuse effort with progress, a team may be busy but members are in the dark about how well the project’s forward momentum matches the original plan. Constant monitoring of activities is the key to staying on track, and an approach that utilizes robust project controls will keep the team informed about actual progress and potential problem areas.
- Team members are held accountable for execution of their activities.
To achieve success on any project, it’s critical that everyone knows their responsibilities inside and out. It’s also important that they are aware of how and when their tasks must be completed. Without sufficient accountability, activities can quickly veer off course or remain incomplete without others on the team knowing, causing downstream effects that threaten the success of the entire project. A proven project control methodology has mechanisms for gaining and maintaining commitment from team members around their deliverables. It will also ensure that responsibility for their activities is properly communicated, that progress updates are received, and that individuals are held accountable for their specific tasks.
- Communications flow across sub-teams and through all levels of the project hierarchy.
Silos within an organization are notorious for stopping communications in their tracks. Unfortunately, any interruption of the information-sharing process can significantly hamper a project’s progress. Critical task hand-offs may be missed or important data may not be transmitted to the team members who need it. Executives and sponsors are likely to worry about the project’s status and resource consumption levels, simply because they don’t receive enough real-time updates from the team to feel informed. A practiced approach to project controls includes clear communication flows that transcend the boundaries of sub-teams, silos, and reporting structures. Appropriate information sharing and timely progress reports are a fundamental component of the communication chain.
- Project activities are broken down into the appropriate level of detail.
The right amount of granularity about each phase of the project gives the team the insight to sequence, schedule, assign, and monitor activities. Too little detail and important tasks are almost sure to be missed. Too much detail and the team may get bogged down in minutia that doesn’t move the project forward. An approach that leverages tools such as a work breakdown structure allows everyone to have the level of detail they need to identify task dependencies, to monitor the status of upstream activities, and to know where can’t-miss milestones exist.