How Does a Project Controller Control a Project?

Summary:

Have you ever wondered how a Project Controller controls a project?

Do you know what the role of a Project Controller is in a project; from its initiation to completion?

An effective Project Controls starts early in the project when the project is initiated and continues throughout the project life cycle until the project is closed out

At the initiation stage of the project, the Project Controller develops a cost estimate and the time frame required to execute the project. After the project is awarded, Project Controls gets involved in “planning” the project. Creating a detailed project plan and establishing an integrated cost and schedule baseline is the first thing that a Project Controller does when undertaking any project.

When the journey of a project starts, the role of a Project Controller is to frequently measure and monitor the status of the project; evaluating where the project is as compared to where it was supposed to be at any point on the project’s journey and where the project is heading to.

Watch the video below for the full lesson on how the Project Controller controls the project throughout its life cycle.

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VIDEO TRANSCRIPT:

Have you ever wondered how a Project Controller controls a project?

Do you know what the role of a Project Controller is in a project; from its initiation to completion?

Let me walk you through the role of a Project Controller in the project life cycle and show you how a Project Controller controls a project.

First, let’s be clear on what a Project Controller controls in a project before showing you how he/she controls it.

What do you think a Project Control controls in a project?

  • Does a Project Controller control the quality of the project?
  • Does a Project Controller control the project team members?
  • Does a Project Controller control the entire project, similar to what a Project Manager does?

The answer is NO.

A Project Controller does NOT control the project quality, manage the project resources and team, or directing the project in general.

What a Project Controller controls in a project is the project’s “cost” and “schedule.” Cost & schedule are the two primary targets that a Project Controller focuses on controlling in a project.

But how a Project Controller controls the cost and schedule of a project? How Does a Project Controller Control a Project?

Project Controls Starts with the Project Initiation

There is a common misconception that Project Controls happens during the monitoring and controlling stage of the project. However, an effective Project Controls starts early in the project, when the project is initiated and continues throughout the project life cycle until the project is closed out.

You might be wondering “what Project Controls has to do with the initiation stage of a project before even the project is awarded!”

Well, what do you normally do at the project initiation? …. Putting together a proposal, right? In your proposal, don’t you need to estimate the ‘size’ of a proposed project?

It is a no brainer that every proposal comes with a cost estimate and the time frame required to execute the project. So, we are talking about the “cost”, and “schedule” elements of a project. Isn’t it the role of a project controller to help the project team define these two most important elements of the project?

The Role of a Project Controller in the Planning Stage of the Project

After the project is awarded, Project Controls gets involved in “planning” the project.

Creating a detailed project plan is the first thing that a Project Controller does when undertaking any project.

To do proper planning, the final destination in a project needs to be determined. The final destination in a project is the product or the things the project needs to deliver (known as deliverables) to meet the project goals.

Once the list of final deliverables is determined, the Project Controller gets heavily involved with the project team members to plan the journey to successful project completion. In the context of Project Controls, it is done by specifying:

  • How and when each deliverable need to be delivered,
  • What resources (labor, material, equipment, subcontractor…) are required to execute the job,
  • How much each resource and the overall project would cost,
  • How the budget needs to be allocated,
  • How the project performance is going to be measured,
  • and much more.

The outcome of this compressive planning effort is an integrated project plan, known as “baseline.”

The project baseline acts as a roadmap that guides you to reach your final destination in the project. You will go back to this map constantly throughout your journey in the project because at any moment on the project’s journey, you need to know where you are when you will get to your final destination, and how much more money you need to finish your journey. Therefore, the project baseline is key for properly monitoring and controlling the project performance.

However, there is one problem, a big one….

Projects rarely go according to the plan.

The reality is that the road to project completion is filled with many changes and obstacles, which we as travelers on it need to be able to face and adapt to.

As stated earlier, the ultimate goal of a Project Controller is to make sure that the project reaches its final destination on time and within budget.

But how is it even possible when there are constant changes in a project?

The role of a Project Controller during the “Execution” and “Monitoring & Controlling” stage of the Project

When the journey of a project starts, when the project enters the execution stage, the role of a Project Controller is to frequently measure and monitor the status of the project.

By monitoring the status of the project, I mean evaluating where you are as compared to where you were supposed to be at any point on your project’s journey.

As with traffic signals on the roads that guide you to safely arrive to your destination, you need similar guideposts on your project’s journey to make sure your project is on the right track. In fact, the mission of a project controller is to communicate such signposts effectively and warn you of any issues that might cost you extra time or money to reach your destination.

The project controller should not only tell you where you are on your project at any moment but also should inform you how much more time or money you require to complete the project.

A big role of a project controller is “forecasting” project final cost and schedule destination. In doing so, the Project Controller should help you minimize the deviation from your baseline plan so that you make sure your project is back on track …so that you can hit that end target; on time and within budget. And if not, take intelligent and meaningful proactive or corrective actions required to bring your project back on track as much as possible.

This is what a Project Controllers does in a nutshell.

To learn more about how a Project Controller plans and controls a project, watch more episodes of Project Control Mastery.

If you have any question about this post, please submit your questions or comments down below, I will personally respond. If you like this training, make sure that you hit the like button and share it with the group of your friends or colleagues. Thank you.

 

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