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Interesting Stuff

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- Video: Project Controls

 

 

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It is common in the construction industry to still find individuals that are yet to discover the value of project controls. While many project members are open and receptive to the functions and importance of project controls unfortunately there are also many key project players that are simply stubborn and ranging in attitudes towards project controls from passive, cynic, to downright hostile.

 

Therefore while the relevance of project controls might be self-evident to many of us, we must answer the "why" for the benefit of our more conservative or reactive team members.

 

So what do we want to accomplish via this organizational function?

 

In a nut-shell, we can think of project controls as a communication conduit. We can formally and systematically in a structured manner report on project progress and cost. We can identify the critical path and track actual versus budgeted costs. Risks can be registered, communicated and actions can thus be initiated. Also it is important to note that project controls as a “communication vehicle/ conduit” intends to generate action where necessary, by flagging criticalities. This could be represented as follows:

 

Issue identified –> analysis –> reporting (the communication bit) –> action generated –> result (the value added)

 

As an example let’s say that a schedule is reviewed for a chemical plant that is about to be built and a long lead item such as a large PCV valve is found to be needed in 6 months’ time. This would then be reported to the project manager, which would then action this information by asking the procurement expeditor to check with the vendor on their delivery time, find a solution to shorten the fabrication and delivery of the valve, and a result the chemical plant’s schedule would remain on track.

 

To fully understand a position in favor of something, we must also understand the counter-part's position. In this case, those from the opposing bench will claim that project controls constitutes an unnecessary burden in terms of resources/ cost, and a drag or distraction by "those out-of-touch-with-reality people with the papers and numbers" on "those out there in the field actually executing" the project.

 

And that's in a way a fair comment. Except of course that it's all wrong.

 

Ok. To be honest there are some grains of truth (as in all opposing arguments). It is true that cost controllers, planners/ schedulers, risk managers, estimators and others in the profession can go off in a tangent (on occasion - we’re all humans and therefore make mistakes) and lose contact with reality in a cloudy sea of inconsequential minutiae while the big picture loses focus. As example, a site supervisor might not be interested in a 100 page landscaped A3 pdf schedule, as that would be for him simply an unwieldy and unpractical document. Rather a concise and neat summary of the schedule such as a 2 week look ahead, filtered by the areas to supervisor's interest, would be much more welcome.

 

Then why project controls?

 

As above mentioned it's a communication conduit. Large (and not so large) projects may attempt to do away with project controls... at their own peril.

 

Typical of projects that choose to neglect project controls are gross schedule delays, out of control execution plans, unknown cost position with consequent over-runs, and a generous peppering of risks that could have been avoided or mitigated.

 

We all need an image to focus on… a symbol that simplifies the reason. So please "remember the Alamo" and fill in the blank here:

 

This is my "project gone wrong": ______. It was a disaster. An effective project controls team would have if not saved the project, at least greatly ameliorated the damage done.

Why Project Controls (and why we should remember the Alamo)

Communication

The importance of good communication. Or telepathy as the alternate!

The blueprint on how the project is going to be executed.

Project Execution Plan

Selected Articles

A necessary document to support and explain the cost estimate: How did you arrive at that number?

Basis of Estimate
Meetings

Love them or hate them. How to conduct successful productive meetings.

Funny, but true. Video on the functions of Project Controls.

Enjoy!

Settings do matter: pick the wrong settings and your schedule’s output will be meaningless.

What the text books didn’t tell you
Primavera P6 Settings
Video - Project Controls

Selected Articles

Tips on Scheduling

50% Science, 50% Art, 100% Communication

Why Project Controls?

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