The Importance of Monitoring and Evaluation in Projects Funded by Citizens (Dec 2005)
Project Control Management is a very important function not only in the business world but in also in the lives of each and every one of us. This is due to the simple fact that you can utilize it for any kind of duty or job. The entire process can be divided into three main parts: planning scheduling, and controlling. During the first stage you define the objectives, assumptions and constraints. In the second you have to allocate the available resource and therefore relating people, money and supplies to each specific activity. In the last one you monitor how the work is being carried out and if needed you apply modifications to the plan. “Controlling is directly related to planning. The controlling process ensures that plans are being implemented properly. In the functions of management cycle - planning, organizing, directing, and controlling - planning moves forward into all the other functions, and controlling reaches back. Controlling is the final link in the functional chain of management activities and brings the functions of management cycle full circle” The subject of controlling is a sensitive subject. Every company has to have measure of control to ensure that the job on had is being done. The Coast Guard a lot of individuals in leadership positions they abuse the control aspect of a subordinate. The abuse became obvious in some instances. There are supervisors that will micromanage sailors jury to them. In the end those individuals are weeded. The military is not in the business of babying individuals who have enlisted to serve, but the military will not allow people to abuse authority either. In this essay we will particularly focus on this last step and explore the details. Monitoring As we said monitoring and evaluation is the last phase of project management. This is a very important part because it is practically the only one that allows us to control the quality of the outcome, control the progress, and provides relevant reports useful for future decision making. A good plan is one that allows modifications to be implemented. If this isn't the case then M&E is completely useless. Project plans should always be slightly modified in order to achieve perfection. As we all know in order to better keep under control how a process develops it is advisable to break the system into the smallest parts possible. In project management these are called work packages. To help monitor it is a good thing to write down a sort of commitment calendar where everything is summarized for the current week or month (maximum). This has to include: time, people, other resources, money, and work package deadlines. Check point cycles are also useful. These should have a duration of one week, in order to make abnormal things and events easier to spot. For example, start on Wednesday and end on Tuesday and the advancement will be recorded from Wednesday at 8.00 until Tuesday at 17.00. Project Meetings After these notes have been taking there should always be some sort of meeting (it can also be brief and informal) where you discuss and analyze the outcomes. If necessary it is here that you start finding new potential implementation to make the plan better. These so called team meetings are very important to make sure that every member of the team knows his or her own duty and is aware of project's advancement (essential for high commitment and general morale). “Board meetings” should also be arranged with the top directors so that they too are constantly conscious of the progression of the project. In fact more relevant implementations and modifications to the plan can be ordered only by the actual people who have this power. Project Board “The Project Board is the executive authority of a project. It authorizes the project to proceed, change direction or stop. It enters in to a contract with the Project Manager through the Project Initiation, Project and Stage Plans, to provide the executive support and resources required to execute a project which will deliver the specified products to schedule and budget. In effect, the Project Board acts as the project guardians, enabling the Project Manager and Project Team to do their job protected from the arrows of outrageous fortune” . Of course the project board is not obliged to have a first hand contact on an everyday basis. However the meeting with the project manager should be regularly programmed and respected to analyze the achievement of objectives, scope, schedule, budget and quality products, and to resolve outstanding issues and change requests. Meeting frequency When deciding how often the board should meet there are several factors which we have to take into account. We may say that these are mainly three. The first one is the experience of the project manager and therefore to what extent we should let him or her act on his or her own. Secondly, we have to think about the size and complexity of the project or stage itself. Finally, but still very important, the overall cost and risk related to the project. The minimum however should be at the end of each stage or work package. Quality Control ISO9001 definition of quality: "The totality of features and characteristics of a product or service which bear on its ability to satisfy a given need" . The work done on a product may only be defined as complete when this has been tested against acceptance criteria which have been previously established for the actual product. It is essential that these elements have been agreed beforehand in order not to encounter unwanted problems between the workers and the actual customers. Progress Control Progress control serves to monitor and control the actual development of the project. In this section what you do is collect information concerning work and cost performance. This information is very valuable. In fact thanks to this you are able first of all to roughly continuously estimate when the next work package or the actual project will be completed; secondly you can compare the actual performance with what you had planned and check if it's consistent. With this set of tools in your hands you're able to tweak the plan in order to make it a much more successful one every time you do it. In fact, it is very unusual for any project to go exactly as you planned. It is important to monitor the degree to which the plan is being followed, and to take appropriate action if the project is deviating significantly from the plan. How much is being spent is one of the greatest concerns for owners and investors therefore you should keep track of the actual costs incurred in each period and estimate the remaining ones (just to avoid unwanted surprises…). Issues Management All issues that are affecting the success of the project have to be dealt with. In order to do this the first thing you have to do is be able to identify them and the extent to which they affect it. When this has been done you move on to find all the possible solutions. In some situations, depending of the dangerousness of the issue, as a project manager you may have to meet with your superiors in order to be capable of dealing with it and making decisions of a certain importance. There will always be issues that arise during the course of a project. Some of these issues may have a bearing on the project, and some will be of little consequence. Issues can arise from within the Project Organization and from the environment that impacts the project. With the aim of assessing these issues you should keep in mind these guidelines:
- What happens if the issue is not actioned?
- Will it impact project scope?
- Will it impact the quality of the final product?
- Will it cause the project to go out of tolerance?
- Will it impact resource usage?
- Will it change the project benefits?
- Will it increase project risk?
Published: Tue, 27 Nov 2012 15:02:26 +0000