Project Controlling Tools
Last updated: 2022-03-20
In this sub-section, we present a more detailed description of project
controlling tools that we will use during implementation phase as items
of our project management dashboard.
Additionally, the tools must also yield all the information we need to
report into any management system for multiple projects, like a project portfolio dashboard.
In implementation phase, we will follow the project plans in terms of
what actions we take and what results we expect. Then, our controlling
tools of choice must support the comparison between planned and real
life actions, as well as between expected and actual results. The
following diagram highlights this comparison:
Basic Controlling Cycle
As a general guideline, we can conclude that each individual
controlling tool must fit to the type of work and the way we work in
There are two types of tools or project management
metrics for measuring / controlling the work progress of individual work
packages or of a whole sub-project or project. Our presentation
includes milestone trend analysis and earned value analysis (earned
value management) using indices such as cost performance index, schedule
performance index, cost variance, and schedule variance.
Controlling Tools for Individual Work Packages
(1) Measuring Quantities
We measure the
progress of a work package in terms of completed parts of the same kind,
for example: completed ground area of a building (in sqm), laid cable
(in m), number of doors, windows, etc. installed, number of sockets
manufactured (in pieces), etc.
(2) 0 – 50% - 100% Method
In case a work package has a result that we cannot express in terms of equal parts we indicate the work progress by
- 0% for “not yet started”,
- 50% for “started, but not yet completed”,
- 100% for “completed”.
works for most medium size research & development, or engineering
& design work packages. The 0 – 100% method is similar, but for very
small work packages.
(3) Estimation of the Necessary Remaining Effort and Duration
large research & development, or engineering & design work
packages, the 0 – 50% - 100% method would be too inaccurate. In this
case, we usually would ask the work package expert for the rate of
completion. Additionally, we recommend asking for the portion of work
that still has to be accomplished, in terms of estimated necessary
remaining effort and duration.
Controlling Tools for the Whole Project
(4) The "Simple" Tools
We have a work breakdown
structure (WBS), network diagram and Gantt chart, and an accumulated
cost plan of our project. So, why not use them as project controlling
Let's start with the WBS. Twelve weeks into a project and applying the 0%-50%-100% method, we obtain a diagram like this:
Simple Project Controlling - WBS
Work packages 1.1, 1.2, 2.1.1 and 2.2.2 are complete, 2.1.2 and 2.2.1 started but not yet complete, and 2.1.3, 3.1 and 3.2 not yet started.
The same 0%-50%-100% method together with the network diagram yields information about the status of the work progress regarding the logical sequence of work packages:
Simple Project Controlling - Network Diagram
If we want to know our project status in terms of schedule we use the Gantt chart. A blue bar for each work package indicates its planned time and a red bar below it its actual time.
Simple Project Controlling - Gantt Chart
For example, work package 1.1 was started on time, but it took one
week longer to complete it; work package 1.2 was started one week later
and finished one week later, etc. So, as of twelve weeks into our
project, it seems to be one week behind schedule.
The following diagram combines planned cost and actual cost, showing that our project is over budget.
Simple Project Controlling - Cost Plan
(5) Milestone Trend Analysis (MTA)
represents the most popular project controlling tool. It requires a
milestone plan on project level. In general, many work packages lead up
to one of the milestones. However, we only focus on the milestone level.
The following picture shows the MTA chart at the end of planning phase,
presenting the planned milestones.
MTA - Status of a Project
In sub-section Milestone Trend Analysis, you find a more detailed explanation how MTA works; in sub-section Free Downloads, you find an interactive animation of MTA, under demos.
(6) Earned Value Analysis (EVA) or Earned Value Management
As another widely used project controlling tool, Earned Value Analysis helps to control cost and schedule in larger projects or sub-projects.
The following picture shows a snapshot of EVA in a small project.
Earned Value Analysis
We use the values
- Planned Value PV
- Earned Value EV
- Actual Cost AC
to calculate Cost Performance Index (CPI) and Schedule Performance Index (SPI) with the following formulas:
Formulas for Cost and Schedule Performance Indices
In our example, we obtain CPI = 0.609 and SPI = 0.778 indicating that
we are over budget and behind schedule.Earlier presentations refer to
- Cost Variance CV = BCWP – ACWP = EV - AC
- Schedule Variance SV = BCWP – BCWS = EV – PV
two project controlling tools, milestone trend analysis (MTA) and
earned value analysis (EVA), summarize the work progress on project
level. In case more detailed information is needed we turn to those
tools that measure the work progress of individual work packages.
In our sub-section Free Downloads you find templates which you can use for your specific project. Feel free to adapt them to your needs.
35+ templates, tools, and checklists in one set
To save you time in your daily work as a project manager, I packaged more than 35 project management templates, tools, and checklists into one zip file.
- You un-zip it, and you get all items in formats you can edit to your requirements.
- They strictly contain only standard functionality and no macros or other code.
- You are allowed to use your logo.
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