Project management jargon can be confusing to the untrained ear but even those in the industry question the language sometimes. PM trainer Lynda Bourne asks what we really mean by project controls.
Describing scheduling, Earned Value and financial management as ‘project controls’ is dangerous! The steering mechanism on a car is a control system, you move the steering wheel the front wheels turn; and if the car is in motion its direction of travel is altered. Control systems cause a change.
Altering the duration of a task in a schedule, or calculating the current CPI and EAC for an Earned Value report changes nothing. All you have is new data. If the data is going to cause a change three things must occur:
- First the data needs to be communicated to the right people.
- Second, they need to receive, understand and believe the data (this changes the data into information).
- Then they need to use this new information to change their future behaviours.
This is a communication process, not a control process so how did we manage to confuse communication with control? The answer is rooted in history!
Scheduling was developed as a scientific computer based modelling process at a time when ‘command and control’ was the dominant management paradigm supported by the ideas of ‘scientific management’. The artefacts created by schedulers generated the impression that the mathematical certainties calculated by their leading edge computer tools somehow translated into certain project outcomes.
Here’s another perspective that goes beyond the triple constraint:
What do you think? Is communication key? Share your thoughts with us below:.