Monitoring and Controlling in project management – real situations

Monitoring and Controlling in project management are mandatory practices that guarantee the success of any project.

Every project, according to traditional practices, has a monitoring and controlling phase. Every textbook talks about it, and you’ll encounter the topic on every CPM exam.

However, what do the concepts of monitoring and controlling represent in the real life of the project manager? These are the day-to-day activities and concerns of the project manager to keep work orderly and project activities safe.

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Real situations for monitoring and controlling project management

I present to you several real situations from the project manager’s work. In each situation, certified project manager Joanna Peterson answers what she would do as a project manager.

In your project, it is said that John demotivates the team and expresses dissatisfaction during lunch breaks almost every day.

I’m going to ask John for a one-on-one meeting to discuss what’s going on. I will share that I have heard about his dissatisfaction and ask to talk about where it comes from. If there are any problems in a personal or professional capacity, I will be happy to listen to him and find an option for joint work together.

If the problem is with the team or project itself, I will assist in solving it, and if that does not help, I will help John move to another team. I will discuss with him beforehand what his options are. Reference: “Example situations for real Monitoring and controlling activities in project management“, Depending on his behavior, I will consider how to tell him that this type of behavior is unacceptable, and unprofessional and will not be tolerated.

After I meet with him and depending on how much his dissatisfaction has affected the team, I will also talk to them, presenting John’s situation as delicately as possible, or if it has come to a transfer, I will explain that he was not a good fit for the team. I will monitor them more closely for some time and implement measures to bring the team’s motivation back to normal.

Your supplier sends you a letter informing you that in a month they will stop supplying your product because they are discontinuing it from production.

Firstly, I will check my agreements with this supplier to have full information on how my relationship is structured and whether it is within its rights to stop supplying within such a period (most contracts have a month’s notice, so this element is met, but it is possible that the contract that a given product was to be delivered in a certain quantity or for a certain period that continues beyond the one month notice that they gave us). Reference: “Monitoring and controlling in project management: Example situations“,

As soon as I have more information in parallel:
I will contact the supplier (1. Thanking for the notice and asking for alternative products from him and/or other suppliers; 2. That this notice is in breach of our contract and the supplier must continue to supply this product similar to the same quality and price or pay us compensation against the contract)

I will contact the logistics/production department of the company to check if we have alternative contracts and suppliers and if not market research will be done and suitable alternatives will be found
Depending on the results of the above two actions, I will choose the best alternative that would have the least impact on the quality of the product, the duration of the project, and the budget for its implementation.

The client sends you an email and asks you to explain the status of the project.

Upon receiving an email, I will immediately send a reply thanking them for their interest and clarifying questions about the status detail they expect to receive. If it is a short update on how the project is developing, I will send information within the day, and if they would like more detailed information within three working days, I can send detailed documentation and a breakdown of the project status by tasks. Reference: “Monitoring and control over the project implementation”,
In addition, depending on their availability, I would also appreciate a face-to-face meeting or a conference call to go over the status of the project in greater detail, including inviting other interested parties who could give specific information. For example, if they have more technical questions, the program team leader can join the meeting and address specific questions and concerns that may have arisen. If they will feel more relaxed, I can also suggest sending regular project status updates every week and regular monthly meetings to discuss closed tasks, current work in progress, what challenges are encountered, and overall how the project is developing. More on the topic: “Monitoring and Controlling in Project management presented with real scenario examples“,

Your architect tells you that he has doubts about the strength of the materials you are using to make your product.

The strength and quality of the materials are of utmost importance to creating a quality product. However, it is important to know our architect well enough before questioning our materials, as he could apply gold plating, due to perfectionism, and the quality of the product itself is good enough for its purpose. Reference: “Plan, monitoring and control in project management: Data collection, processing, and analysis“,
Generally speaking, though, if the architect I’m working with shares doubts, I think the best approach is to verify the credibility of his concern and what impact it has on the product. There are quality standards for every product, so I will ask the supplier/manufacturer to send us the standards and certifications against which their product was marketed. Also, I will check internally how this product was selected and by what parameters we chose the delivery to be right for it and from this supplier. If possible, I will also apply internal tests so that we can independently assess how robust the product is and meets our requirements and needs. Reference: “Monitoring and control in project management”, Based on the outcome of these actions, I will either assuage the architect’s doubts and continue working with this product, or we will have to look for alternatives and introduce a change in the scope of the project (be it in product quality, lead time, budget or other ).

Programmers complain that the environment for compiling program code is very slow and takes a long time for this step.

It is important to know what is the root cause of the delay – whether the environment for compiling code is new and programmers are not yet used to it, whether it is very old and therefore does not support the code itself, whether the specific code that is written in now there is a need for another type of compilation environment, different from the one used so far, whether the internet connection is good enough, whether it does not overload the environment database.

At the same time, it is important to check whether the complaint is coming from all developers from all teams, or is rather an isolated complaint that speaks to a misunderstanding/ambiguity of how the built environment works, and could also be the result of technical difficulties, including but not limited to poorly written code and bugs. If the programmers work remotely, it could also be a combination of different things, for example, the computers of some of them are not powerful enough to work in this environment or the Internet of the respective programmer does not meet the required quality.

Once I check all these details and have a clearer picture of why this is happening I will take specific actions. I will arrange a meeting to include all concerned persons, explain what I have found and how such a delay can be prevented. If necessary I will talk to management to do training on how to use the built environment or negotiate the introduction of a new one for the project and/or for the company as a whole (if the problem is bigger). Of course, depending on the results, there will be very different impacts on different aspects of the project.

Your designer tells you that, in his opinion, the usability of your product’s GUI is beginning to decline

I will do a study on the credibility of the claim by myself and colleagues testing the product. I will ask that a user feedback survey be created so that we can gather feedback from them, including suggestions on what could be improved. Based on the collected information, I will add additional tasks to the project to address the better usability of the product.

The director casually asks you in the hallway if you think the project is on schedule.

I am always aware of my projects and their status, so I will respond with 2-3 sentences on how the respective project is going, allaying the director’s concerns. In addition, I will offer to send an email or organize a meeting where I can present more specifically and in detail what is happening in the project.

A representative, an external consultant of your client, sends you an inquiry about whether the product meets its requirements and asks you to confirm this.

I will ask to set up a meeting where I will detail the product requirements and project structure, as well as their status at this stage.
Especially when it comes to external consultants, quite often there is a situation where they are very familiar with the product in question, so meeting him and getting to know him in detail about the project, I think, will be useful for him before we get into the nitty-gritty of whether the product meets its requirements.

Also, direct contact and the use of visualization tools (eg relevant requirements, how far they are covered, and which ones are fulfilled in a color scheme) will certainly give a better idea of what is going on and show that even where the requirements are still have not yet been fulfilled, you will be reassured that they are being worked on and real results can be expected soon.

An external consultant representative of your client sends you a letter asking you to share the level of competence of your teams.

I will send a diplomatic reply in which I will share the expertise and high quality of work that the company regularly demonstrates in its projects. In addition, I will share that our teams are created by highly qualified professionals, whose development continues to be supported by the company, and this can be seen in the quality of implementation of the various projects we work on.

Your client sends you the following email “Hello! Our CTO would like you to scope out an additional device. Regards!”

I will check our communication and agreements with the client, and depending on them I will return the information:
If opportunities for such changes are foreseen, I will discuss with my team and relevant specialists how the new requirement can be met and what it will cost us. Based on the collected information, I will share with the clients how the necessary changes will change the project, its duration, and its budget. If they agree to the changed terms, we will start the process of implementing the relevant changes.

If no such capabilities are provided, I will respond that this is outside the scope of the project and would be difficult to add as functionality at this stage without significant changes in scope, cost, and time. If they still insist on introducing this functionality, then we could create an annex to our contract to add this additional element, but with additional stipulations.

Your customer sends you an email: “Hello! We’ve seen the project drawings. Before you start prototyping, we want you to add a new button to the system diagnostics panel.”.

Before making a decision and taking action it is important to find out if this button is part of the scope and if so, was it simply a requirement that was neglected to be added in the previous stages or is it entirely new functionality that has yet to be added to be filled in. After determining which of the two it is, it:
If the drawing is still not approved, it is returned to the designer with a request to add the additional button, in parallel, a task is also sent to the software team to write a code that, when the button is pressed, takes out a detailed diagnosis of the functionalities.

If the drawing is already approved, we check if there is an option to enter this element not using a button, but for example as a function of the application to the product, i.e. we are looking for an alternative for the best way we can implement this functionality. If this is an out-of-scope requirement, then my answers from the previous point apply.

Your client sends you an email: “Hello! We want to reduce the overall cost of the project, but we have no idea how yet. Please give us suggestions and an action plan”.

I will do a detailed review of the project and note the tasks and functionalities that can be dropped so that the cost price drops without having a significant impact on the project. I will check for alternatives to cheaper materials or changing subcontractors that would reduce the quality of the final product but still meet the customer’s needs.

I will ask to hear from them so we can clear up the details of what they are willing to settle for and if the minimum the project should cover the project. Based on all the information, I will send them the possible options, with their advantages and disadvantages, so that they can choose the right option for them.

You come back from vacation and find that your product’s GUI team has started falling behind on various tasks.

I’ll get the team together and we’ll have a short (or longer) docket meeting to discuss the status of the various tasks, why there are delays, what the challenges are, and how they can be resolved. I will share that now is a critical moment for the project and I believe in their professionalism and that together we will be able to complete the project, but for this purpose, it will be a step busier at the moment.

About this, and so that they feel responsible for the tasks, together we will set new deadlines, hold daily short briefings, and address any issues and challenges that may change. In the next period in which I go on leave, a work plan will be created in advance and a responsible person will be appointed internally in the team to monitor the execution of the tasks according to the schedule.

Your technical manager informs you that he has just been to HR and has put in a notice to leave.

I will discuss with him what provoked his desire to leave and try to keep him with the company, including exploring opportunities to increase the salary, improve the working conditions, or at least sign another contract for the duration of the project only, so that he be completed while the supervisor is here (this type of increase may cost less to the project than searching for a replacement).

If that’s not possible, I’ll sit down with him and ask that we come up with a plan together for the smoothest possible departure for him and for an employee of his to recommend for the position (whether temporary or permanent) to take over. If necessary, an open position and company job advertisement will be released urgently and interviews will begin so that the new employee of the position will have the opportunity to learn directly from the technical manager and the handover of the position will be smoother.

One of your technical specialists tells you that your manager, who has decided to leave the company, has offered to leave with him, and join a new company together.

I would appreciate him coming to share and discuss with me. I will ask what his thoughts are and what would make him decide to stay with the company instead of leaving with the manager.

I will look for options and ways in which I can keep the relevant person in the company and within the project. If he does decide to leave with the manager, I will offer an option to stay a bit longer before he leaves, and if his decision is final, I can offer for example a civil contract with fewer hours of work for the duration of the project and/or to be able to train another person to work in his place. I will also talk to the HR team about looking for other candidates so that we can find replacements as smoothly and continuously as possible.

Your customer sends you an email: “Hello! If we decide to remove the GUI and touch screen from our product, what savings in money and time can we expect”.

It highly depends on what stage the two developments are at. If their development has not yet started, then there are costs only for their planning, and the costs of making a change, we will be able to get the number of funds saved. On the other hand, if their development has already started, it may not be economically feasible to remove them, as the savings would be negligible. So I will check the status and provide customers the options with their alternatives.