Gantt chart

Lori Benson, who is an specialist contract manager, in her article for the PM Times for Project Managers, “4 Key Project monitoring steps to help you succeed”, talks about a critical aspect of a project Control and monitoring of a project. She starts her article with a short but important statement “Trust, but verify”

In the first couple of paragraphs she explains “why” she wrote the article, affirming that Project Monitoring is necessary in all Project Management Plans, verification should take place frequently trough the lifecycle of the project, and results of that control should not only be shared to supervisors, managers and top executives, but also they should be shared with the project participants. Helping you to get a successful flow of information, results, feedback and advice throughout the project. The 4 steps are explained below.

  1. Begin with a plan for project monitoring

Just like the milestones exercise that we applied in class, planning how to monitor could give the project a backbone and short term objectives. Project managers have to plan for how, when and what project they want to monitor, based on realistic targets and metrics. And it have to be regularly monitored Bi-weekly or worst case scenario monthly. Monitoring is often not linear, it will have ups and downs and inevitable change throughout the project, and therefore it will have to have requested monitoring, results reviews and feedback.

Pros: You will have an efficient control of the project and you will have the opportunity to adapt and change throughout the project to mitigate risk, take advantage of positive risk and have an inside view of the project provided by feedback

Cons: I think that it could be dangerous and you could enter into micromanage your employees and that can have negative impact. Also you have to analyze the quality of feedback obtained in order to apply it efficiently into the project. Parallel you could over stress your employees like the bell example in our noodle/marshmallow exercise.

  1. Reports to management

The reports written or not have to have a regular schedule, weekly, monthly or bimonthly showing the progress during that period. That enables project managers to identify actual or potential problems earlier so you can make adjustments, adapt and move forward. Top managers have to be alerted if problems arouse, or if the project is having problems meeting a milestone or objective. “When reporting to organizational leadership, project leaders should focus on results that indicate whether a strategy is relevant and efficient or not”

Pros: It can help you seize opportunities of the positive side of risk, and it will help you maintain flexibility towards future events

Cons: Depending on the type of company you may have to develop a “language” to communicate effectively with Top managers. In case of public companies you may alert investors that a strategy will bring a hit in the 1st quarterly earnings but it will have a positive impact in the long term.

  1. Recommend actions to improve on the project

As a Project management you have to avoid recommendations without previous foundation of planning and feedback from management, communicate based on budgeting and goal-setting without sustention. Recommendations and feedback should include corrective actions, preventative actions or changes in the plan or the project execution. Guidance should be as specific as possible. “Keep in mind the team’s own health and feedback: offer constructive criticism and praise when it makes sense to strengthen the goals of the project and the team individuals’ work too.”

Pros: Feedback, guidance and adaptability can be critical to the success of a project. Applying concepts recollected from feedback can motivate employees to, like Walt Disney said “Plus it”
Cons: You have to be aware that different “qualities” of feedback and as a project manager you will have to filter information in order to have better results.

  1. Confirm that actions are being followed

After getting feedback and correcting the strategy, Project managers have to confirm that the changes actually are being made. Verifying also that the project as a whole is staying on track.
The author also recommends to use automated tools and technologies to track member’s performance and response, like shared documents, feedback, forecast, Gantt Charts, etc. “At the most basic level, the project leader must track the differences between what was planned, and what is actually happening to ensure that project objectives are being met”

Pros: It can help you reassure that the measures are being taken and the project is still on track. It can help you understand the stage of the project in the current time.

Cons: It could be tide back to cons of number 1 you have to be very careful with micromanaging your employees.

References: http://www.projecttimes.com/articles/4-key-project-monitoring-steps-to-help-you-succeed.html


  1. The essential success parameters for any project begins by defining what is success. It in turns goes back to what a project is expected to achieve (objectives, goals).

    In my experience, once a PMO has clarity about project objectives and its alignment with business strategy, many things fall in place. Having a good project management tool helps for planning, delegating, tracking/regular monitoring and being ready to manage risks/unforeseen. The project management process to do all these is important.


  2. Thanks for sharing your insights. These 4 steps are definitely helpful once the project goals are clearly defined. For step 1 I like how the article discusses the concept of non-linear monitoring. Typically we find projects that have a weekly sync/checkpoint meeting where the top issues are discussed. I often find these meetings can be a waste because the actions required more than a week to execute. On the other hand, sometimes the weekly meetings run overtime due to an abundance of topics to cover. In this case more frequent meetings should be held. In the end I agree that a general plan should be established, but it should be flexible so the monitoring frequency can be increased/decreased as needed.

  3. Great article, these are vital steps to success for project goals. I observed how this article focused on non linear monitoring. Should all project goals use this method? I find it obvious that many projects request the team to meet up and discuss the project so everyone is on one accord. I often find out that meetings can be beneficial and detrimental. Project managers should use these essential steps for success to plan and execute!

  4. Hi Ricardo, interesting article! I really like how you add your thoughts on the pros and cons. There will always be pros and cons on how to handle situations! When I’m working on a project I think it’s important for the PM to check in to see how things are going. Just a simple face to face conversation asking if there are any issues that need to be escalated is sufficient. Definitely don’t want to be a PM that’s looking over peoples shoulders or micromanaging but important to let their team know that they’re there for support.

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