The monitoring and controlling process group

What is the monitoring and controlling process group?

The monitoring and controlling process group is the feedback mechanism that compares the performance of the project during the execution process to the project plan. Changes will always occur during project execution, as the risks that are identified during the planning process become better understood as a result of project execution. It is often stated that project risks decrease as the project proceeds, but this is often not the case, as in projects with poorly defined or changing baselines the risk can increase unless the project is properly controlled.

As its name implies, monitoring and controlling involves two actions: the project must be observed and its progress recorded; and the changes must be actively managed by the project manager. It is not enough for a project manager to notice changes within a project passively; their variation from the baseline plan needs to be appreciated and appropriate actions taken to correct drift away from the plan. All changes to the project plan should be taken through the integrated change control process, to ensure that the project deliverables conform to the project scope statement.

Table 3.4 summarizes the results of the monitoring and controlling processes.

Table 3.4. What monitoring and controlling is, in terms of before and after monitoring and controlling
Before monitoring and controlling After monitoring and controlling
  • Risks are either unknown or of uncertain probability.

  • Risks can be determined to a point where they can be adequately managed.

  • Changes to the project plan occur due to external influences and to overcome risks identified during execution.

  • Change control is integrated into a single, well-defined process that is understood by the project team.

  • The performance of the project is uncertain.

  • Project performance is measured in relation to the baseline project plan and the future of the project can be forecasted.


PMI says

Monitoring and controlling processes

'Monitoring and Controlling Processes (Process Groups). Those processes performed to measure and monitor project execution so that corrective action can be taken when necessary to control the execution of the phase or project.' PMBOK Guide (p.364)


What is the output of monitoring and controlling?

The main output of the monitoring and controlling process group comprises the actions necessary to correct issues or defects identified during the execution process. The monitoring and controlling process determines the difference between the state of the project and the project plan. It is the feedback that allows all parts of the execution phase (quality, costs, schedule and risks) to be measured against the project plan. In the words of Lord Kelvin, 'only once you can measure and quantify a thing can you understand it'. By comparing the progress of a project to the project plan, it is possible to forecast the future of the project.

Besides the variation between the project deliverables and the plan, the monitoring and controlling processes have a number of other outputs, which are listed in full in the PMBOK Guide together with their associated inputs. We have already suggested, above, how to use the project management processes, but let us emphasize here that, unless you are taking the PMI's exams, the way to use this section of project management methodology is sparingly.

Why is monitoring and controlling important in project management?

Moving from the theoretical world of project planning to the real project environment will often change the project stakeholders' understanding of what the project is about. At this point it is important for the project manager to be able to document and factor any changes to the plan that this shift in understanding may bring.

Just as medieval doctors examined the four humours to determine the fate of their patients, the 12 monitoring and controlling processes allow a project manager to know the state and progress of their project, so that they can make meaningful forecasts on its performance. The level of detail required for recording and monitoring progress is often determined by the detail and accuracy needed for forecasting.

Who should be involved in monitoring and controlling?

The short answer is the project manager, since monitoring and controlling processes include some of the most fundamental project manager responsibilities. Overseeing and controlling the project work and managing the project risks are key tasks that can make the difference between a project succeeding or failing. Large or highly technical projects may have specialists to monitor risks and schedule control, while budget control often comes from the finance function of many organizations. Command and understanding of the monitoring and controlling process group are fundamental to the decision making of project managers.

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Definitive Guide to Project Management. The Fast Track to Getting the Job Done on Time and on Budget
The Definitive Guide to Project Management: The fast track to getting the job done on time and on budget (2nd Edition)
ISBN: 0273710974
EAN: 2147483647
Year: 2007
Pages: 217
Authors: Sebastian Nokes
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