Process of Management Control
Plan, Organize, Execute, Monitor and Control
The basic process of management control can easily be remembered
by the mnemonic POEM standing for Plan, Organize, Execute, Monitor
Plan - The first step is to plan the project with respect
to scope, time and cost. What precisely is to be done? Why? If it
is, say, a new plant, what is the purpose and process in the plant?
How is the job to be done? Why should the project be done one way
rather than another? Indeed, why should it be done at all? Where
is it to be built? Who will design and construct it? What resources
in terms of materials, manpower, finances and time are required?
What risks are involved? What strategies are required to deal with
Organize - The second basic step is an extension of the
planning process. A careful analysis must be made of the various
activities required in planning and executing a project, to provide
a closely related project team structure. For every project activity
(e.g. programming, estimating, design, planning, procurement, construction)
there must be a very clear definition of who is responsible, and
who has the authority to execute the activity. That person must
have a very clear definition of the scope, cost and time budget
for that activity.
Execute - The methods by which the Plan is executed or implemented
are critical. No project manager (or other member of the project
team) will be successful unless he understands the basic needs of
human beings, their strengths and weaknesses, mental and social
abilities, and how to weld a complex mixture of humans into a dynamic
and productive team. The single most important characteristic of
a successful project manager is his ability to manage people.
Monitor and Control - Continued monitoring, reporting and
forecasting must take place during project implementation, and the
forecasts compared to the Plan. Deviations must immediately receive
management attention, either by reallocation of resources or modifications
to the Plan (with the client's approval if his objectives are affected).
Without a detailed Plan, there is no basis for comparison, no determination
of deviation, and hence no satisfactory basis for corrective action.
Clearly then, a successful project management system is one which
monitors and responds by a control action as early as possible after
Appendix B illustrates the elements
of management control by outlining the general activities which
may be expected within each stage of the project management process
in various project situations.
Elements of Control
As noted earlier, project management relies heavily on the science
of systems. A practical example will help in the understanding of
a control system. In a simple machine-to-machine system such as
an air conditioner, the input is the electric power and the output
is cold air. For this we need three essential control tools:
- A monitoring mechanism, in this case, a thermostat;
- A comparative device, e.g., the thermostat signal with a set
point or objective; and
- A preset formula and a means for sending a corrective signal.
The preset formula and corrective signal in its simplest form is
on-off. Obviously, other more sophisticated formulae and signals
are possible. This can be seen in a man-to-machine system such as
an automobile where graduated control is exercised by the gas and
Project Management is a man-to-man system. In this case the input
is essentially design information and resources of materials and
labor. The output is a completed facility. The processing is done
by designers, draftsmen, skilled labor, etc., who transform the
raw data through drawings to contracts to construction and finally
to project start-up.
Control is exercised through monitoring, reporting and forecasting
the output, comparing this to the project objectives and sending
corrective signals to the input of data and resources. Thus the
output is made to conform closely to the objectives. This cycle
is illustrated in Figure 4.
Figure 4: Elements of the project control cycle
Modern computers allow us to use a wide variety of control functions
using almost any conceivable control formulae.
Actually, the real process is continuous and rather more complex.
The cycle of monitoring, comparing and correcting never ceases until
a project is completed, see Figure 5.
Characteristics of a Good Management Control System
A good management control system must:
- facilitate detailed planning;
- be able to measure performance in relation to the plan and quickly
report any deviations from the plan;
- be able to communicate planning and performance information
to all parties involved; and
- identify objectives and highlight important operations leading
to these objectives.
Figure 5: Control system for a construction project