Managing Project Execution & Controlling
A Project Manager’s responsibilities do not stop once the planning of the project is done. Because a Project Manager is responsible to internal and external Stakeholders, the Project Team, vendors, executive management and others, the visibility of the position is intensified because many of these people will now expect to see and discuss the resulting deliverables that were detailed in the Planning phase. As a Project Manager, it is important to keep oneself from getting “down in the weeds,” especially on large projects. This will allow him/her to focus attention on enabling the Project Plans and processes and managing the expectations of customers and Stakeholders.
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Once a project moves into the Managing phase, the Project Team and the necessary resources to carry out the project should be in place and ready to perform project activities. The Project Plan should have been completed and baselined by this time as well. The Project Team, and specifically the Project Manager’s focus, now shifts from planning the project efforts to participating in, observing and analyzing the work being done.
The Project Plan managing process ensures that planned project activities are carried out in an effective and efficient way while ensuring that measurements against Project Plans, specifications, and the original project feasibility concept continue to be collected, analyzed and acted upon throughout the project life-cycle. Without a defined project managing process, each Project Team would execute projects using its own best practices, experience, and methods, while certain control, tracking and corrective action activities would be missed.
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It is important to note that project execution and control relies heavily on the plans developed in the Planning stage. There is already enough work to do within the Managing phase of the project; therefore, having to reinvent ways of dealing with risk, change requests, training and resource issues, and other such obstacles to progress is impractical and undesirable at this point.
Particular attention must be paid to keeping interested parties up-to-date with project status, dealing with procurement and contract administration issues, helping manage quality control, and monitoring project risk.
It is also critical during the Managing phase that the Project Manager support and monitor the implementation of other important aspects of the project such as the Communications Approach, Risk Management Approach, and Procurement Plan via periodic interaction with the Project Team and Stakeholders.
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The Managing phase also includes project control activities. Project control involves the regular review of metrics and status reports in order to identify variances from the planned project baseline. The variances are determined by comparing the actual performance metrics from the Managing phase against the baseline metrics assigned during the Planning phase. These variances are fed into department control processes to evaluate their meaning. If significant variances are observed (i.e., variances that jeopardize the completion of the project objectives), adjustments to the plan are made by repeating and adjusting the appropriate Project Planning strategies and documents. A significant variance from the plan does not explicitly require a change, but should be reviewed to see if preventive action is warranted. For example, a missed activity finish date may require adjustments to the current staffing plan, reliance on overtime, or trade-off between budget and schedule objectives. Project control also includes taking preventative action in anticipation of possible problems.
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Critical Success Factors:
- Major functional deliverables arrive in six- to 12-month intervals (e.g., immediate business value achieved)
- Stakeholder communication
- Proactive project governance process
- Stakeholder buy-in of key deliverables and milestones – they are committed
- Regular checkpoints for continuous validation of the Business Case
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- Project is specific
- Project is attainable
- Project is measurable
- Management support
- Specific requirements
- Detailed Project Plan
Quality designed into the Product:
- The Right People (Project Team!)
- Good Communication
- Change Management
- Risk Management
- Client Participation.