The next phase after you and your team have moved through initiation, planning and commenced with execution is phase #4, the monitoring and control phase. Will Rogers said, “Even if you are on the right track, you will get run over if you just sit there.” This project stage is certainly an active one, so endeavor to engage wholeheartedly in making sure you and your team stay on course!
In her article, Top 5 Project Management Phases, Roli Pathak introduced phase 4 by saying that the monitoring and control phase occurs “at the same time as the execution phase. She mentioned that this phase “mostly deals with measuring the project performance and progression in accordance to the project plan. Scope verification and control occur to check and monitor for scope creep, change control to track and manage changes to project requirement. Calculating key performance indicators for cost and time are done to measure the degree of variation, if any, and in which case corrective measures are determined and suggested to keep a project on track. To prevent project failure, consider why projects are likely to fail and the ways to prevent failure.”
Exploring Phase #4 – Monitoring & Control
I mentioned in Project Management Phases: Exploring Phase #3 – Execution that phase 3 and 4 coexist. It’s during the monitoring and control phase when you must reconcile projected performance stated in your planning documentation with your team’s actual performance. Should you identify any areas where things don’t match up, take time immediately to make adjustments. As you make these little corrections along the way, you can prevent larger milestone and deadline disruptions from happening.
Check out this illustration of all the phases to see how monitoring and control fit into the larger picture.
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Let’s take a closer look at some specific items Roli mentioned that you as a project manager must examine in order to help your team execute the project plan successfully.
- Scope – As you know, scope includes the specific objectives, deliverables, task assignments, any anticipated expenses, other resources and the target date to complete your project. Roli cautioned about “scope creep.” Aspects of scope creep include changes or deviations from the established scope. As you monitor, you may find instances where your team may have lost focus or could have misinterpreted the plan. You can step in to nudge your team back on course, redirecting the situation before it becomes a problem.
- Change Control – Control of the process is paramount to delivering on stakeholder and decision maker expectations. Your job is to anticipate and expect issues. If you have already taken time to jot down possible fixes to potential problems, you will be able to address and resolve issues more quickly. However, the caution here is that you never want to make any unnecessary changes, as that could introduce problems where there weren’t any and trigger a delay that was initially avoidable.
- Key Performance Indicators (KPI) – Key performance indicators are performance metrics you can use to evaluate and measure your team’s progress. Be sure to check often that your team is completing project milestones on time and that they are doing so within budget. There is always the possibility that projected resources end up not being enough for your team to get the job done. You can address these situations faster if you have been actively reviewing the metrics and progress reports.
- Cause – It is not enough to know that problems exist. You must ascertain why there’re problems, so that the same issues do not resurface again during this phase. To get some ideas about what may cause issues during your project, check out Top 10 Reasons Why Projects Fail.
Your position as project manager means that you are accountable to decision makers while also being responsible for leading your team to success. That’s a lot of people to make happy!
Keep in mind that you will get the best out of your team if you do not just monitor the process, but if you also make sure to manage and coach your people! Be visible to your team, encourage open communication, so that they feel comfortable, knowing you support them with any assistance they may need.
An empowered team will perform well, making progress updates for executive management and stakeholders much more pleasant. For some ideas on how you can help your team, take a look at, Top 12 Skills that Project Managers Need to Succeed.
Wrap-Up & Resources
Executing your role well is key to your project’s success. There’s a lot to consider as you strive to deliver the best possible outcome for all parties involved.
For some additional info on this phase, check out Monitoring & Controlling Phase – Fundamentals of Project Management.