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Project Controls – A Definition

by Stijn van de Vonder| In Blog - EN|

The era of the big shot project manager might be over.

Project management has evolved into such a multidimensional profession, that it is no longer realistic to expect a single person to show excellence in all facets of project management. Different aspects of project management require a different skill set.

We observe four distinct aspects of managing a project:

  • The technical aspects, very closely related to the product that needs to be delivered.
  • The managerial aspects, including team and stakeholder management.
  • The contractual aspects, both towards client / management and towards (sub)contractors.
  • The analytical aspects, also known as Project Controls.

At Primaned, we believe that all these parts deserve to be recognized as full professions. We have chosen the last one, project controls, to be ours.

However, as project controls is not an established concept yet in our market, we feel that there is a need for a clear definition.

What is project controls NOT?

We start with a definition of project controls by enumerating the components of project management that are not covered by Project controls:

  • All PM processes that are very closely and inseparably related to the project’s products and deep knowledge of these products (i.e. quality control, scope definition, etc.).
  • All PM processes that are directly related to integration (as defined by PMI) and steering the project execution.
  • All PM processes that can be seen as required soft skill disciplines for the general management of a project team and its stakeholders.
  • PM disciplines related to Health, Safety and Environment.

What else is there to do as a project manager, you might ask? Well, … Project Controls!

What is project controls?

Here is our definition: “Project controls covers the aspects of project management that estimates, models, analyzes, predicts, measures, reports and visualizes project data to generate insights in the project that will support and influence decision making so that projects will create maximal value for the stakeholders”.

Project controls professionals are the analytical guys. The ones you can trust to use the right tools & techniques to create insight in the health of the project. The ones who have the overview required to proactively alert the team of the impact of a change or delay on another part of the project. The ones who will turn data into information. The ones like us.

Project Controls covers many knowledge areas within project management:

The real value of project controls techniques lies very often in modeling and analyzing the integration between these knowledge areas. It should also be stressed that these knowledge areas aren’t necessarily completely within the boundaries of project controls. A clear example is risk management. Yes, project controls will add value by registering, prioritizing, analyzing and reporting risks. We can also act as the moderator in risk workshops, but identification of the risks and their mitigation actions are so closely related to the subject of the project that they are out of our scope. Several subject matter experts are required to provide this input. Effective project controls is thus a team effort.

This blog is originally posted on on April 27, 2017