project control simplified

Here at Project Control Simplified we are on a mission to Simplify the Control of your Projects. We operate in a different methodology to other project control consultants you may have experienced; accuracy and detail are often the enemy of effective application of project control principals. We also have a guiding set of mantras which we use in the implementation of project control which support and align to our mission statement and modus operandi.

Principal 1: You are never right; the real question is “How wrong are you?”

This principal is applicable to all stages of project control but is primarily linked to estimating, not just cost but also schedule development and risk profiling.  The reason we need to ask ourselves this question as project controllers is because everything, we do is uncertain, therefore can never be 100% correct.  This is similar principal to the pursuit of perfection, where perfection can never really be achieved.

The real measure of accuracy is the degree to which the data is incorrect, and the aim is for this degree to be as small as possible, hence “How wrong are you?  This is aligned to estimating concepts where certainty is measured in relation to a banding.  For example, the most certain banding of estimate might have a low point of -10% and a high point of +15%, as such we are accepting the deviation in the underpinning data by expressing the cost as a range.

Furthermore, you may have heard expressions in the past such as ‘there are two types of estimate; lucky and wrong’ but that is simply not true, as even the lucky one was wrong!  But don’t worry it isn’t all doom and gloom, this is key to becoming an effective project controller as it reduces the pressure to always be right!

Principal 2: Broadly Right not Accurately Wrong

This principal is taken from a quotation by Economist John Maynard Keynes who stated, “It is better to be roughly right than precisely wrong.”  This principal has been re-worded as Broadly Right not Accurately Wrong and is key in project control.  The pursuit of detail often gives a false impression of accuracy and consequentially increases the likelihood of being “wrong”. 

Lets take for example, an estimate in which the equipment being supplied is costed to the nut and bolt, this would give the reader the impression that the cost is extremely accurate as it is linked to a high level of detail, however this is likely incorrect as any item missed within the quantification of the equipment will be missing from the over all estimate.  We would class this as accurately wrong.

This principal is also equally applicable when there is little detail available, for example the anticipated schedule duration of an item may be 8 days but without fully understanding the item, it would be broadly right to assume the duration is 10 days as this is more applicable to the information available.

Principal 3: Keep It Simple, Stupid

Again, we cannot take credit for this principal as it has been attributed to US Navy Aircraft Engineer, Kelly Johnson.  The principal states that most systems work best if they are kept simple rather than made complicated; therefore, simplicity should be a key goal in design, and unnecessary complexity should be avoided.

This is fundamental in the effective application of project control, for example the level to which estimates are produced, schedules are planned, risks are identified, and costs are planned have a direct and consequential impact on the complexity of application of control and often with little added benefit. 

The principal can be applied in conjunction with the presentation of data at the highest level possible.  This will usually align to the project or business mandated Work Breakdown Structure or Cost Breakdown Structure.  Application at this level will usually give the most effective and cost effective result.

Principal 4: Scope, Schedule then Cost

This is a fundamental principal of Project Management, not just project control and it is important that the steps are followed in the correct order.

First the project should determine the scope for which the endeavour is to deliver, crucially important as you don’t know, what you don’t know!

The next stage is to schedule out the work scope which will inform the timescale against which the project is to be delivered against.  This is critical as projects have both fixed and time-based costs.

Finally, the project scope can be estimated using both the scope and schedule as the requisite underpinning.

Put simply, understand what you are doing, understand how long it will take then understand how much it will cost.

If you want to Simplify the Control of your Projects get in touch with us today.