To use the idea of control as part of a managers’ remit these days might seem a little unfashionable. After all aren’t we all meant to facilitate the work of others and lead teams rather than try to manage from an authority base? Whilst in an ideal world those things would be true there are actually 6 areas of performance that a project manager really needs to control. These are:
What to control.
Costs – a quality project manager will make sure that the project they are controlling is affordable. Although some factors can lead to overspends, there are always savings that can be made too to keep the budget under control.
Timescales – all the client is usually interested in is “when will it be finished”? Having a firm grip on the progress being made by the teams involved in the project is essential; to not let timescales slip you need to have good control over your sub-managers.
Quality – in a building project bathrooms with gold plated faucets but no water running from them would count for nothing. Every aspect has to be finished with quality to the fore, but having a product ‘fit for purpose’ is itself a sign of quality.
Scope – does the project deliver what was required of it? If you don’t control what is the expected outcome from the start – you won’t know if you’re delivering a project that meets the client’s expectations. Remember too, the bigger the project – the wider the difference can be between the clients’ expectations of the projects scope and your understanding of what’s to be delivered.
Risk – any project will have its risks, but when might a risk become a liability? If, for whatever reason, a risk threatens the budget or timeline of the project then control it by insuring against it.
Benefits – something else that needs writing in to the project brief is an understanding of the benefits that the project will bring about. For example, is the project to be sold for profit as soon as completed, is the benefit to the staff who’ll work with and develop the project on hand-over etc.
Help with the control.
Using a Project Management tool like PRINCE2 will be of enormous help to the project manager in getting to grips with the principle and themes of control within a project – wherever they are.