How good is your project monitoring and control? What effect does it have on your projects?

Over the years I have seen a lot of negativity from participants on our project management courses.  However, I noticed last year that when we spoke about project monitoring and control within companies  the level of cynicism seemed to increase. So, I decided turn the cynicism into something that course participants could go away and do something about.

I introduced them to a simple activity:

Stage 1: I asked course participants; what words best describe project monitoring of projects and to put one thought onto 1 post it note. They were asked to place the post it notes onto a flipchart. I ask for no more than 3 post it notes.

Stage 2: I rearranged the post it notes into positive and negative

Stage 3: I explained to the group what had been done and why the two columns

Stage 4: I asked what observations they had

The majority of post it notes are usually on the negative side and this is what one group from one company said:

  • Poor control of end dates
  • Anecdotal
  • We defend failure
  • Evolving
  • Relaxed
  • Lack of budgetary control – big overspend
  • Large projects are closely monitored
  • There are prioritisation issues which do not get answered
  • Limited monitoring post sign off
  • Loose- sparse
  • Poor budgetary control – mainly lack of planning and scope creep
  • Not well planned

I have control…….

Monitoring and control should impact positively on projects. With this group they are saying that it is loose and does not achieve very much. Note the comment on big overspend. The one positive; large projects are closely monitored. Now I am not suggesting that all projects should be closely monitored; I’m suggesting that some form of monitoring takes place. With this group, that is not the case.

If we are to increase the probability of project success then much more targeted monitoring and control needs to happen. More time, more effort and more direction is needed.

And as for what they can take away: I encouraged this particular group and all others I work with the engage with senior managers, with project sponsors and boards to try and develop better monitoring and control. If they don’t the probability of project success is a lot lower.I ask them to take away copies of the post it notes so they have some ammunition.

Of course, the project manager can lay blame at the door of the project sponsor; many do! But, there is a dual responsibility to ensure that any monitoring is effective. Of course, where a project board exists they have this responsibly. Interestingly, having spoken with many people who sit on project boards they do query their role. I feel another blog posting coming along ………


Photo by Master:


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