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Control Communications

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control communicationsControl Communications – focused feedback!

While the project is in the executing process group, the monitoring and controlling process group is gathering up to date and accurate control communications.  These reports must not be filtered to only include the positive progress information, but to contain the whole story.

This information will allow the project manager to take timely action. The control communications reports themselves can take any format that is appropriate for the audience from higher level summaries, down to deep detail.

Control communications report formats may use histograms, Trending data, tabulated information, S-curve, and dashboard formats.

The control communications process takes work performance information from various other processes, and the performance report is used as an input to various monitoring and managing processes.

As a result of gathering the report information, it may become clear that a change request be raised, and this will become an input into the Perform Integrated Change Control process.

In addition a control communications is used as an input to the distribute information process which uses the communication management plan to identify the who, when and how for the intended report audience.

These various inputs represent the baseline information against which actual progress will be compared.

Another key input comes from the develop project management plan process in the form of the project management plan which contains the threshold limits for each of the above baselines.  An example here might be a certain percentage range (plus and minus), and as long as the report shows actual information within those thresholds, then no corrective action need be taken.

However, the project manager should beware of small deviations and trends gradually creeping to a level that cannot be sustained.

The Control Communications process.

The following diagram summarizes the main inputs and outputs:

control communicationsReferring to the various work performance information, there are a variety of metrics that are of particular interest to the project manager for inclusion within the performance report.

These include:

  • Start and finish dates
  • Costs incurred and committed
  • Work effort carried out
  • Work effort remaining
  • Work, cost and schedule percentage complete
  • The status of project deliverables
  • Future forecasts for cost, time and work
  • Earned Value metrics for schedule and cost
  • Status of defect repairs
  • The status of implemented change requests
  • Corrective and preventative action that was taken
  • Status of existing risks and issues

The main deliverable from the control communications process is the performance records themselves, and also to update organisational process assets and to make change requests if needed.

When describing tools and techniques for report performance, this should consider  the three aspects of progress reporting, status reporting, and forecasting.

Progress reporting will include activities, scope, scheduled work, costs and significant milestone achievements since the last progress report was issued.

Status reporting relates to the overall project report performance completion and is often expressed as a percentage.

Forecasting predicts cost, scope, and schedule metrics and will use Earned Value Analysis to calculate such predictions.

The use of variance analysis is very helpful here as it will compare the scope, schedule and cost inputs and compare these against their baselines.  Take care to ensure that this information is accurate and all use the same base data.  Remember that if such information sounds too good to be true -then it probably is!

Case should be taken to compare these inputs to each other to ensure that they give a harmonized picture of progress.

There are many forecasting methods that may be used when performing control communications, but all use the fundamental approach of comparing past performance along with the drivers for future performance in order to develop a realistic forecast.

Finally it is worth mentioning the code of ethics and professional conduct, as when compiling reports information, it is a temptation to only include data that makes the project look good or to misrepresent data for the same reason.

The project manager should always strive to gather truthful and accurate data and provide it in a timely manner.

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