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Text comes from the book: “The new project management: methods, techniques, tools that work better” (2014), published by BusinessVillage Verlag, reprinted with the kind permission of the publisher.

Here writes for you:

andrea-ramscheidtAndrea Ramscheidt is an expert in project management processes in companies. Ramscheidt studied economics, mathematics and business informatics. In over twenty years of professional experience, she worked as a manager in companies such as o2, Lexware, Haufe or eon. Today, Andrea Ramscheidt, a trainer and speaker, passes on her know-how based on international project management standards (PMI, GPM / IPMA, PRINCE2).

Project Management - Basics Methods Tasks: 4 steps for project control

In order to control the expenses and costs of your project, you also need an estimate of the remaining expenses for the completion of the work packages in addition to the expenses already incurred. The same applies to the costs and dates.

project management

Project management - from planning to implementation

Once the planning of your project has been completed, the focus of your tasks changes. So far, you have planned the project, as of now your tasks are the control of the implementation.

The implementation includes all measures which are aimed at comparing the actual project progress with the original planning. As a project manager, your task is to act proactively and not to react. This allows you to actively influence the project, so you can control your project.

Important for a new project management is the awareness that it is normal that there are changes and deviations from the original planning. No plan can be worked out exactly as it was conceived.

Adjustments are the rule

The project has the effect of creating something new, and therefore adjustments to the project planning during the project control phase are not the exception, but the rule.

Therefore, communicate to all project participants at an early stage that changes and deviations from the plan are normal in the implementation, and make the changes transparent and comprehensible to all involved.

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Compare planning and reality

And ensure the changes with appropriate decisions. Because if you simply enter a change into your planning, so you always update your project plan without making a comparison to the original planning, your project will always be on schedule. They are then not in a position to detect deviations.

This is precisely the reason for the project management: to identify deviations and to analyze the influence for the further development of the project, in order to then develop appropriate measures in order to remain relatively close to agreed dates and the approved project budget.

What does active project control mean?

An indicator for active project management is when the project manager takes a long time to take the necessary corrective measures and to implement them together with his project team in order to react to deviations. The goal for the project management is therefore to set up an early warning system, which will show you as a project leader early on and clearly when a reaction to plan deviations is necessary.

Project control consists of cyclical, repetitive steps. They regularly record the actual status based on the processing of the individual work packages.

Is the current state still true?

You then analyze whether the actual state matches your original planning. You can thus determine whether the current situation will have an impact on the further project progress.

Once it has become clear that milestones have to be postponed or even the achievement of the project objective is in danger, take measures to get the project back on track. If that is no longer possible, adjust your planning. The adaptation of your planning usually requires approval by the project owner, because the adaptation has an impact on deadlines, costs and effort.

Note deadlines, effort and costs

For the project control, first and foremost dates, costs and costs have to be considered. In many Company Project costs are documented as part of an expense assessment - often weekly. This gives you the opportunity to evaluate historical data. For example, you can determine if the planned work package cost is exhausted, even though the work package result is not completed.

Or whether more efforts were made to work the work package than planned. Now you can re-estimate the remaining expenses of the work package by the responsible employee. In any case, the work package will be more expensive than you have planned in your project planning. The actual data alone do not provide you with any control options for your project.

How do you manage a project?

Use the estimated remaining expenses, costs, and the currently scheduled dates for updating the project plan. Without the question of the prospective further development of the project, an active control of a project is not possible.

In addition, not every company captures the overhead of project work. In this case, you only have the opportunity to directly and regularly ask your project staff about the remaining effort for their work packages. A complete tracking of project costs and costs is hardly possible in such a situation.

Target / actual comparison

A target / actual comparison is the best known and most widely used instrument of project control. The figures for the original planning (= target) and the current costs or costs are then compared. The deviations are thus transparent; the effects on the further course of the project can be estimated.

A target / actual comparison can be created for appointments, expenses or costs. The inclusion of the future-oriented data, ie estimated estimated remaining costs, estimated residual costs and deadlines, is important for the meaningfulness of the target / actual comparison.

If you regularly create a target / actual comparison, you receive an updated planning that contains actual data - and therefore has a higher planning quality than the original planning of the project.

Determination of the degree of completion

An interesting parameter for the project control is the so-called degree of completion. The degree of completion describes how far a task has already progressed. It can refer both to the time and to the duration of a task or to the performance, ie the effort of a task.

However, the degree of completion is often not directly measurable and is therefore valued by project staff. If you ask the question "What percentage are you finished with the work package?", You will often get the answer: "90 percent." That sounds good at first.

The 90 percent syndrome

But here you should be suspicious. Because the conclusion that only 10 percent to be done is usually wrong. This psychological effect is also called the 90-percent syndrome.

Because with the seemingly exact specification 90 percent is to be expressed only that very little work is to be done. Therefore, ask for the amount of work to be done before completion of the work package and how long it will take.

4 Steps for project control

The following measures for project control in case of delay are possible:

  1. They shorten the duration of the work by overtime or changing the prioritization within the project.
  2. You increase the efficiency of your work if you use an experienced expert to work out the work package.
  3. They reduce the scope of work packages.
  4. They parallelize the processing of work packages and postpone dates.

Reduce the scope of the project

If the costs or expenses are exceeded, you can only reduce the scope of the project. The following should be considered for all measures: What are the costs? How much time is required? What impact do the measures have on the dates, the project budget and the quality of the project results? There is no recipe for selecting the best measure.

Here, costs and effects must be weighed against each other on a case-by-case basis. Currently identified plan deviations from the project have to be documented regularly in the project plan, in order to be able to recognize the effects in terms of time, resources and project objectives at an early stage.

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