This paper focuses on how a project manager translates the information gathered via the monitoring and controlling processes regarding project execution into actionable knowledge. These concepts, linked with key performance indicators and general system thinking concepts, help project managers make the right decisions regarding the introduction of change into a project. A project issue is defined as observed variation from an expected result, which impacts a key performance indicator. Variations can be classified as either common cause variations or special cause variations.
Only special cause variations should be addressed using corrective actions or project changes. By applying Deming's red bead experiment and funnel experiment to project management, the paper demonstrates the veracity of linking project change only to special cause variation.
Project managers can use Deming's Plan-Do-Check-Act cycle as a tool to help ensure the right change is implemented. How do you know the current status of your project? How is the current status of the project communicated to your organization's management team?
September Thus, monitoring must contain analysis of past events, recognition of trends and their impacts on future plans, and some means of conveying the conclusions to other members of the project team. It is less focused on rigid task order and scheduling and prescribes more flexibility in resource allocation and more attention to how time is used. Milestones for control — Interim objectives -points of arrival in terms of time for purposes of progress measurement. Interpretation — Reduction of information to appropriate and understandable terms and explanations. For any project manager and business owner, understanding the financial outcome of the projects is crucial for analysis and future planning.
How do you ensure your clients know the project's status? When do you introduce change or corrective action into the project based on the project's current status? The answers to these question stem from the Monitoring and Controlling Process Group. The answers to these questions seem easy on the surface. Yet, in my experience, I find that these are some of the most difficult questions faced by project managers. I'd like to use a real-life example to illustrate the complexity of these questions. Like a stereotypical project manager, I kept in touch with the project team during my vacation.
He pressured my team to make changes in the project's execution. This experience started me on the journey of asking how one really knows the status of a project. At the same time, I rediscovered the systems thinking work of W. Edwards Deming and Peter Senge. I wondered how systems thinking concepts impacted project management, especially in the area of monitoring and controlling.
This paper applies system thinking concepts to the Monitoring and Controlling Process Group. Key concepts include:. In other words, project managers use the monitoring and controlling processes to translate project execution data from information into knowledge. This knowledge is then used to make the right management decisions and to take the right actions at the right time. Generally speaking, project managers face two choices in most situations:.
Key performance indicators KPIs are a tool to help project managers synthesize the information gathered from monitoring and controlling processes into meaningful knowledge. KPIs help the project manager turn the scope statement into measurable objectives against which the project's success is judged. As information is gathered by monitoring and controlling processes, the project manager organizes it and analyzes it in order to understand how the project's current status measures up compared to the selected KPIs.
Optimally, three to five KPIs should be selected for each project. Determining the exact number of KPIs for each project is more art than science. A project may require more or less KPIs based on the project's scope and complexity. KPIs cannot be arbitrarily selected by the project manager; rather, the project manager applies tools like brainstorming, interviewing, and the Delphi technique to determine what the project's stakeholders want the KPIs to be.
The project manager assists stakeholders reach a consensus decision regarding KPIs. This shared decision-making process helps each stakeholder develop a sense of ownership for each KPI. For example, one KPI may be that the project deliverables must be completed by a contractually obligated or market-driven date.
A KPI rule I've learned the hard way to is be sure that everyone is on the same page. If a total stranger stopped a project stakeholder, sponsor, or team member in the hall, can that person articulate clearly and succinctly the project's KPIs along with the project's status as compared to the KPIs? Think about Dorothy's journey down the yellow brick road to the Emerald City.
Projects by their very nature change over time. Oftentimes this change comes directly from the project team and project manager. We initiate corrective actions or process improvements in the project. We implement change because we observe variation from our expectations or target. Yet, not every variation requires that changes be made to the project.
Project managers need to answer the following questions for each project:. The first step to answering these questions is to understand the type of variation observed. Two types of variation exist: common cause variation and special cause variation. Common cause variation refers to events that fall inside the upper and lower control limits on a control chart. In other words, this variation is expected even though the process is under control. Special cause variations are events that fall outside the upper and lower control limits on a control chart. These events can be unexpected.
A simple example of this is your commute to and from the office assuming you actually travel into the office. Each day you drive the same route; yet, the total commute time can be longer some days and shorter on other days. This is common cause variation. One day your car has a flat tire, which extends your daily commute time. This is a special cause variation. Notice you make different decisions based on each situation. Mistake 1: To react to an outcome as if it came from a special cause, when actually it came from common causes of variation.
Mistake 2: To treat an outcome as if it came from common causes of variation, when actually it came from a special cause Deming, , p. It is impossible to completely eliminate the occurrence of either mistake. A control chart can help project managers avoid these mistakes. Ideally, the control chart's upper and lower control limits relate back to the project's KPIs.
So, what does this mean to the project manager? Take, as an example, a situation faced in a typical software development project. During the testing stage, the test team executes a varying number of test cases each day. Does the project manager need to initiate a change in the project as a result of this observed variation? The answer is: it depends. Is the variation within the expected results defined by the control chart's upper control limit or lower control limit?
If so, this is probably common cause variation and no corrective action is required. Is the variation outside the control limits on the control chart? If so, this is probably a special cause variation and corrective action needs to be taken. The ability to make the correct decision whether or not to implement change is a key skill required by project managers. Project managers can improve this skill by studying the lessons learned from Deming's red bead experiment and funnel experiment. Deming's red bead experiment demonstrates some assumptions made based on data gathered from monitoring and controlling.
The demonstration is based on a role play using members of the audience. He asks six willing workers to remove beads from a bin containing a mixture of red and white beads.
Compare this to assigning project team members to a task. The willing worker inserts a paddle with pre-drilled holes into the bin to remove beads.
The goal is for the willing worker to only remove white beads, because red beads are considered defects. The willing worker can only use the paddle. No human hands may touch the beads.
Three inspectors count the number of red beads on the paddle. Compare this with project team members executing tasks following established organizational procedures.
The inspectors represent the project's quality processes. A recorder documents the number of red beads. Compare this with gathering data for monitoring and controlling purposes. The bead extraction process is repeated multiple times to represent multiple days. Obviously, it is impossible to meet the goal of only removing white beads from the container. The willing worker actually exercises no control over how many red beads are on the paddle. However, this does not hinder the supervisor from rewarding the person with the lowest red bead count and punishing the person with the highest amount of red beads during each rotation or work day.
The supervisor or project manager also introduces new management-sponsored programs, such as Zero Defect Day and bonuses. Management determines what corrective action to implement based on their interpretation of the results recorded by the recorder from the preceding round of the bead selection process. Compare this with the changes or corrective actions made to a project as a result of the monitoring and controlling process.
Five volunteers founded the Project Management Institute (PMI) in Managing communication is about communications planning, information . One of the most common trends on projects is the incremental expansion in the project. Project monitoring, the fourth phase of project management, helps to track using key performance indicators (KPIs) agreed during project planning. 1. Check and Understand Project Progress. Before you can re-plan the.