What project controls are and how to use them efficiently

12 November 2021By Vlad

There are various tools and techniques of project control managers can rely on. To reduce risks and negative consequences, many teams hire a project control analyst, who devotes a significant amount of time to planning and has an understanding of accounting, finance, and business administration.

What project controls are and how to use them efficiently

In this article, we‘ll explain what project controls are and why they matter, describe their most important components, and see how you can improve agile project control by using specialized software.


What are project controls?

By project controls, we understand a set of tools and processes of gathering necessary data by a specialist. These data are further analyzed and used as a baseline for making accountable decisions concerning costs, time, and performance. In other words, it is all about monitoring and controlling in project management.

Project controls are measures that must be iterated regularly throughout the whole project life cycle. They help gain important insights, including possible outcomes, value, cost, quality, etc. The most common areas they approach are:

  • Strategy and methodology,
  • Planning and scheduling,
  • Estimating costs,
  • Risk management,
  • Management optimization.

This list is not exhaustive and can vary from team to team. In the hierarchy of a company, a project controls specialist would be responsible to a project manager, who would forward and present the analyzed data to stakeholders. Thus, decision-makers can consider alterations in the campaign.

According to different job listings on employment websites, companies expect proficiency in communication and basic management qualifications from a project controls specialist. The second category may include a Bachelor‘s degree in a relevant field, several years of experience in management, and knowledge of specialized software solutions.


Project controls vs project management

Although these notions are used to describe the act of a successful implementing of a plan, they have tricky differences.

Project management is a generic term that refers to leading the teamwork and includes multiple subtasks, such as managing human resources, reviewing deliverables, or evaluating approaches to a project. The primary goal is usually achieving the best results against the given constraints that include but are not limited to quality and scope.

Project controls are one of the subtasks of project management that focuses on costs and scheduling. The essential goal is to keep costs and schedules as close to the original estimates as possible.


5 ways to successful project controls

The importance of project controls should be realized by each person involved in management activities. These five basic tips can help you increase predictability, reduce costs, and hence increase competitiveness.

1. Monitoring and controlling in project management

That is exactly where you start gathering data concerning possible budgeting issues or failing to deliver projects against the specified due dates. Based on your observations, you can later make changes in the strategy, create a roadmap and checklist of measures that must be taken, so that your team can perform as expected.

2. Track progress with Gantt charts

Visualize the processes that are currently in progress to estimate, whether some tasks will be delivered after the negotiated due date. To accelerate the implementation, additional expenses and human resources may be required.

3. Cost analysis

Estimating budgeting is one of the main tasks of every project controls manager. Review previous reports, if they are available, and use a similar methodology in your future drafts. Include direct and indirect costs, gather necessary records, and make conclusions. Ideally, your expenses will equal the sum stated in the budget for a particular period.

4. Change control in project management

Change requests can originate from a project manager or stakeholders. In both cases, they do not guarantee that a problem will disappear completely. To make sure the alterations are correct, track down each change at every step of the project cycle. Evaluate its impact on the performance, then accept or reject the change.

5. Use project control tools

Given the large span of managing responsibilities and information to be analyzed, people simply cannot handle it with a notebook and a pen. There‘s a way out — choose the suitable tools for project control and monitoring.


Implementing project controls with ONLYOFFICE

In remote teams, managers need to have skills in software and tools for project control and monitoring. Fortunately, today there are plenty of tools and applications that make project management control as effective as possible. Some of the well-known examples of such software include ARES Prism, EcoSys, Oracle Construction and Engineering, etc.

Let’s get into practice and discover approaches to project control on the example of ONLYOFFICE Workspace, a comprehensive collaborative platform that includes a dedicated module for task management.

Track project progress, time, and schedule. Browse projects, due dates, tasks for each employee. Evaluate team performance and current status using time-tracking. Switch to the Calendar module to create personal and group calendars, enable notifications per email or Telegram to keep track of events.

What project controls are and how to use them efficiently

Set milestones. Schedule the workflow using milestones, key points in the progress of a project.

What project controls are and how to use them efficiently

Build Gantt charts to forecast late deliveries. Browse deadlines and see how many tasks are being implemented simultaneously. Suggest changes in scheduling to meet deadline requests and eliminate expenses.

What project controls are and how to use them efficiently

Generate reports. Constantly monitor the progress of your project with automatically generated reports. The file will be opened as a spreadsheet and you will be able to edit it, print or download, if necessary. By default, all the generated reports are stored in the My Documents section of the Documents module.

What project controls are and how to use them efficiently

Arrange cost analysis in spreadsheets. Go to the Documents module, where you can create new cost estimates from scratch, use filtering, add sparklines to analyze trends, apply conditional formatting, compare values, and more. Grant access to the file for project managers or stakeholders to share information with them.

Communicate with your team. Reach out to the team and discuss issues for any project, get informed about the task progress, attach reports and analysis, brainstorm ideas.

What project controls are and how to use them efficiently

ONLYOFFICE Workspace is a collaborative office that comes with an online office suite and a full-featured collaboration platform with document and project management, email, calendars, CRM, and social networking tools. The solution allows you to improve project management control, whether it be in the cloud or on a private server.



Final words

Project controls are vitally important processes for businesses that give a clearer view of future costs and planning. Gathered and analyzed information helps stakeholders correct the way their plan is being implemented to avoid additional losses and eliminate late deliveries. With specialized software, such as ONLYOFFICE Workspace, monitoring and controlling in project management becomes easy and efficient.