6.0 Controlling and Monitoring of the Project

Controlling the project simply means keeping a careful check whether your project is progressing in line with the project plan or not. In case of any deviation, the manager is required to take action accordingly.

Ideally, the project plan should be used to control and monitor the project. However, it is imperative that continuous changes should be made to the project plan as the project proceeds.

Review Meetings #

The project progress should be controlled by holding review meetings at regular intervals of time. The following parameters should be kept in mind while such meetings are held:

  • You should indulge in an informal discussion with your team before a meeting is held
  • Firstly, do a detailed project review yourself. Identify issues by thoroughly analyzing all the tasks that need to be completed in the next few weeks and then discuss them in your review meeting.
  • Make sure to circulate the meeting agenda beforehand.
  • If an important decision is to be made, ensure that all individuals with the authority to make such a decision are present in the meeting
  • The meeting should be started by narrating its key objectives first.
  • A detailed comparison of the active status of the project and the projected plan should be made.
  • Make sure to not accept significant deviations from the initial project plan
  • The review meetings should be long enough to discuss the underlying issues yet not too long to disregard the importance of the participants’ time.
  • Make a habit to always end the meeting by reiterating the important decisions and recommending the way forward.
  • All meetings should be followed by a meeting report to be circulated within a day of the meeting. It may simply entail the important decision, or it may give a detailed account of the issues and proposed solutions. The choice of detail would depend on the complexity of the problem at hand.

Conflict Resolution #

Conflicts are bound to happen when people of different backgrounds tend to work together. Workplace conflicts can generally be divided into the following categories:

  • Personal conflicts between different individuals
  • Unclear or overlapping roles and uncertainty about the decision-making authority
  • Conflicts over difference in expectations, preferences and objectives

An approach known as the “win-win approach” has shown significant results in the case of conflict resolution at workplace. The method includes:

  1. Firstly, you should resort to inquiring from both the parties in order to get to know more about the conflict
  2. After attaining sufficient information, work towards achieving a common ground for agreement of both the parties. This ensures that the process of conflict resolution starts on a positive note.
  3. You should then ask the conflicting parties to think of a possible way to resolve the issue in hand
  4. After the solutions are determined, focus on a workable plan to implement the pre-identified solutions
  5. Document and act upon the recommendations

The win-win approach is widely accepted as it provides significant room for the input of both the conflicting parties and allows them to walk hand-in-hand towards a possible solution. However, it should be noted that this approach may not always work. In such cases, you must agree with the conflicting parties that the conflict still remains unresolved. The following approaches can then be applied:

  • In case of a technical conflict, resort to settling the matter through a technical expert and ask him for his valuable opinion.
  • In case of a non-technical conflict, involve a senior manager or a project sponsor. It should be noted that people don’t like being forced to resolve their conflicts through a supervisor thus, this method should only be used if all other methods have failed.

You should also keep in mind that certain conflicts may actually be good for the team as they may open new avenues for cooperation and coordination. One should always remain mindful in the case of resolving multicultural conflicts as the frame of reference significantly changes in these cases e.g., conflicts are perceived differently in the US, China or India. In order to adhere to the deliverables of your project, it is vital to resolve the conflicts as soon as possible.

Resolution of Project Problems #

Project problems can generally be classified into the following categories:

  • Related to People: problems related to people can be because your team lacks the required skill set to attain the pre-set objectives. In such case you must:
    • Train your staff if the project budget and schedule allow for it. Such pieces of training should be added beforehand to your project plan.
    • Try to get the work done through a vendor or outside consultant.
  • Pertaining to schedule: If your project is lagging in schedule, you should:
    • Refine the project priorities and observe if all of the activities are actually important or not
    • Work on the existing tasks and do not accept additional ones
  • If project costs are exceeding the pre-defined budget:
    • Monitor the project costs regularly so that any cost overruns can be identified as soon as possible
    • The project scope keeps changing

Major project problems arise because of the following reasons:

  • Inappropriate planning: unclear activities where processes are not properly documented, and potential risks have not been identified. It is marked by improper communication as the project manager lacks the experience to manage his team.
  • Poor scoping: the objectives and scope are either too narrow or too generalized or maybe they are not in line with the stakeholder requirements.

Controlling Change #

Project managers often identify dealing with continuous change as the most challenging part of their jobs. Such changes are inevitable and often affect the project schedule, budget and sometimes the project deliverables as well. It is imperative to use a control and change protocol in order to cope with these challenges. Such mechanism involves:

  1. Making sure that the change requirements and requests are made in writing using a change request template
  2. The next step is to review your project parameters such as outcomes, costing, etc. in line with the requested project changes. It also involves analyzing what would happen if the requested changes are not made.
  3. You can then either accept or reject the change request. You may also involve the key stakeholders and your project team in this decision. Inform the concerned parties whether the request has been accepted or rejected.
  4. In case the change request is accepted, document it and upgrade the project plan accordingly.
  5. Let the requestor and all concerned parties know about the acceptance and impact of the requested changes. You may also include this discussion in your next project review meeting.