Saturday, July 7, 2012

Monitor and Control

If there's one behavior that's almost an axiom in the project management business it's "monitor and control" the project

And the tool guys are all over this, offering all manner of tools for monitoring, and some tools for controlling.

So, what is the "monitor and control" agenda? Here's my list (without the usual references to project plans, earned value method, IMP/IMS, etc. All good practices to be sure, but too specific for the point I am trying to make):

Project monitoring (and monitoring tools and systems) has these functionalities:
  • Sense, measure, and gather metric data
  • Interpret data and compare to milestones, budget, goals
  • Report data (meetings, dashboards, reports)
Project control
  • Impose or remove constraints, to include authority, responsibilities, policies, standards, rules, work flow
  • Allocate or de-allocate resources (money, staff, tools, environment)
  • Plan and execute responses to monitoring data (act on the monitoring)

Monitor and control should form a closed loop (I'm all about closed loops. Open loops are dangerous because it means that whoever is in charge of input is clueless about outputs, and vice versa. You can't really control what you monitor if the loop doesn't close. And, of course it has to be timely: a poorly phased loop actually causes more trouble than it avoids)
  • Plan
  • Do
  • Monitor the 'do'
  • Control according to the monitor data
  • Monitor the control activity

And go around this loop monitor-control-monitor as many times as necessary
Of course, at some point it may be necessary to re-plan the baseline