Project Management Monitoring & Control Phase Guide


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Managing a project is a complex endeavor that involves navigating a set course with close attention. This is what makes this phase an integral part of the process. In this article, we will focus on the monitoring and controlling in project management and discuss why it is important, what it aims to achieve, and how it can be done effectively and efficiently.

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Objectives and Goals of Project Monitoring and Control

The fourth of the five phases of project management, monitoring and control requires project managers to track the progress and performance of the project, review status, identify potential blockers, and take corrective actions as needed to ensure that the project stays on schedule and within budget.

This phase immediately follows project execution and is crucial in making sure the project adheres to what’s been set in the project plan. 

Here’s a breakdown of the key objectives of this phase using the ship sailing analogy:

  • Closely monitor progress and performance: Think of it like constantly checking a compass. Are we where we should be? Are tasks moving along smoothly? Monitoring and control is about tracking milestones, checking task completion, and identifying any deviations using competent project management software.
  • Stay on track through constant status review: Is the ship’s engine working smoothly, or are there strange sounds that need attention? Review budget, track resource availability and usage, and identify issues looming on the horizon that indicate potential delays, risks, and unforeseen course challenges.
  • Spot trouble on the horizon: Keep an eye out for trouble and spot obstacles that can cause damage or collision. Identifying problems early means having ample time to course correct and put plan B into action, if needed.
  • Improve efficiency of project handling: Constantly evaluate performance and determine areas for improvement to optimize processes and maximize resources, like how the captain of a ship keeps it afloat and operating smoothly by checking every corner of the vessel.
  • Enhance communication with your crew: Engage in regular communication with team members, stakeholders, and clients. Information transparency builds trust, keeps all parties aware of adjustments and why they need to happen, and ensures everyone is working toward the same goal.
  • Increase stakeholder satisfaction: Reach a certain level of consistency in project management through careful monitoring and control. When a project stays the course, meets expectations, and delivers on time and within budget, stakeholders are happy, confident, and positive about the experience.

Now what is the goal of project management monitoring and controlling?

The primary goal of this phase is to see the project through to completion. This is achieved by:

  • Meeting deadlines: Finishing the project on time is vital for maintaining client trust and reputation. Use a telescope to spot storm clouds, adjust the sails, and call all hands on deck to navigate the obstacle together. Determining causes of delays and adjusting resources and the schedule as needed gets the project back on track.
  • Staying within budget: Exceeding budget feels like hitting a reef and has serious consequences. Proactively track expenditures, identify any cost overruns, and reduce expenses, if needed.
  • Delivering the agreed scope: A project’s scope serves as the map leading to success. Completing the project with all the intended features and functionalities is crucial for achieving its goals. Follow the charted course, track progress against scope milestones, avoid scope creep, and make sure that all deliverables are completed.
  • Optimizing resource utilization: Make every crew member count. All types of resources are valuable assets. Letting team members stay idle or overworking them is not an optimal use of resources. Identify areas where resources are being underutilized or wasted and re-allocate them.
  • Managing risks effectively: No voyage is without peril; no project is without risks. Be on the lookout for potential risks before they significantly impact progress.

Why Project Monitoring and Control Matters

Execution without monitoring and control exposes the entire project to risks. This phase allows the team to identify and manage deviations from the planned course so the project is completed in a timely manner.

If done correctly, not only does the project stay on course, it also meets the quality standards set out at the beginning of the life cycle. If done wrong, the project suffers delays, cost overruns, and poor results.

Key Components of Project Monitoring and Control

Essential components of project monitoring and control are best understood when broken down into the following five main categories:

1. Baseline Planning

  • Work Breakdown Structure (WBS): This is the hierarchical breakdown of a project into smaller, more manageable tasks that sets the foundation for tracking progress.
  • Schedule Baseline: This is a project management document that outlines the planned sequence and duration of tasks, milestones, and deliverables.
  • Budget Baseline: This refers to the documentation that details the estimated cost of each task against the overall project budget  for easy tracking expenses and to avoid overspending.
  • Quality Baseline: This defines the expected quality standards for all deliverables and processes and is used to determine if the project meets expectations.

2. Performance Measurement

  • Data Collection: This involves regularly gathering data from various sources on project progress, including completed tasks, resource usage, and costs.
  • Performance Metrics: These are key performance indicators (KPIs) that help track the health of a project and may include schedule and cost variance, earned value, and quality metrics.
  • Reporting: This involves comparing performance against the baseline plan to highlight deviations and provide insights for corrective action to keep the project on track.

3. Change Management

  • Change Control Process: This is a formal process that establishes guidelines for handling changes to the project scope, schedule, or budget so they can be evaluated and approved before implementation.
  • Risk Management: This component is about identifying and assessing potential risks and developing a contingency plan to mitigate their impact.
  • Issue Management: This refers to tracking and addressing issues, which are often unattended risks, for prompt resolution.

4. Communication and Collaboration

  • Stakeholder Communication: This is about maintaining regular communication with stakeholders including providing project updates and progress reports to keep them engaged and in the loop on what is happening and when.
  • Team Collaboration: This focuses on creating an environment where team members are able to openly share information and work together to solve problems.
  • Decision Making: This refers to making timely data-based decisions and involving everyone in the process to foster trust and confidence among team members.

5. Tools and Techniques

  • Project Management Software: Utilizing project management tools makes the work faster and improves accuracy. There are tools for creating project plans, tracking tasks, allocating resources, building budgets, and establishing real-time communication. Smartsheet, Teamwork, Zoho Projects, ProofHub, and Wrike are some of the top software solutions commonly employed by project managers.
  • Earned Value Management (EVM): This is a project management technique that helps assess project performance by comparing the value of work completed (earned value) with planned value and actual cost. Through EVM, project managers can determine whether a project is on track and meeting predefined goals.
  • Control Charts: These are charts used to visually track key metrics over time through patterns and changes, helping to identify trends and potential issues.

How PMs Can Ensure Timely Completion During Monitoring and Control Phase 

Here are ways project managers can make sure that the project is on schedule during the monitoring and control phase:

1. Doing regular review of project schedule

  • Set a review cadence and create a routine for reviewing the project schedule details, such as during a weekly or bi-weekly team status meeting.
  • Focus on critical milestones by paying close attention to those that have a significant impact on linked tasks or on the overall project timeline.
  • Use project management software to create visuals like Gantt charts to better show progress and highlight key information. Some good examples include Asana, Trello, Jira,, Basecamp, and Microsoft Project.

2. Identifying variances

  • Measure work progress against the plan by comparing actual start and end dates of tasks with the original planned schedule.
  • Calculate a schedule variance to see if the project is following the preset timeline or if it is behind or ahead of it.
  • Analyze causes by looking into factors that are contributing to variances, including interruptions and resource issues.

3. Taking corrective action

  • Adjust timelines if differences are shifting or significant and consider extending deadlines or reordering tasks to address delays.
  • Reallocate resources to prioritize the most important tasks to meet end dates.
  • Address root causes and come up with a strategy to prevent recurring delays.

4. Keeping track of project progress

  • Track progress by using project management software that displays task statuses and completion percentages.
  • Identify dependencies between tasks and understand how delays in one task can affect other tasks and the larger project schedule.
  • Be proactive in identifying and managing risks that can run things off schedule.

Additional Tips

  • Break big tasks down into smaller sub-tasks to allow for more accurate tracking and easier management.
  • Set proper expectations for all parties involved and communicate information clearly to minimize misunderstandings.
  • Encourage open communication so team members feel comfortable reporting issues and delays as soon as they are identified.
  • Acknowledge team achievements and celebrate milestones to foster motivation, teamwork, and momentum.

Next Step: Project Closure

After monitoring progress and assessing project performance, next up is the final phase of the project management process: project closure. In the next article of this series, we will explore the phase that revolves around confirming completion of deliverables and tying up loose ends.

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