Project Controls 3.0

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Project Controls 3.0 (PC-3.0) is designed to build onto the existing developments in project management and project controls to:
- Overcome the problems apparent in the current
   diverse range of project management and
   controls practices,
- Implement a simple, robust system that is
   effective for all types of project delivery, and
- Refocus the controls effort on helping management
   craft success, rather than report on history.

Topics included in Project Controls 3.0 Overview:

- Project Controls 3.0 - Overview 
   -  PC-3.0 Driving Philosophy
   -  PC-3.0 Structure
   -  Implementing PC-3.0
   -  Work Units 
   -  PC-3.0 Key Concepts and Definitions
   -  Useful Papers & Resources
- PC-3.0 Work Performance Management (WPM)
- PC-3.0 Contract Management
- Useful External Web-links & Resources.

Other related sections of the PMKI

- Traditional Project Controls 

Project Controls 3.0 Overview

Project Controls 3.0PC-3.0 is designed to simplify project controls, remove unnecessary details and focus on timely information that is accurate enough to be useful. Excessive detail and delay destroy the value of a project controls system. Pragmatic decision-making needs useful information at the right time, rather than precisely accurate, detailed information when it is too late. PC-3.0 recognizes the overall objective of a project is set, and often defined in a contract. However, successfully achieving the objective required adaptability in the face of uncertainty and changed circumstances.

PC-3.0 has been designed to be effective!
-  You can plan the overall project in any way the project team see as appropriate.
-  The breakdown into Work Units is within the agree overall planning framework.
-  The control program maps the interfaces between the WUs and sets the overall project duration.
-  How you plan and manage each WU is up to the team running the work.
-  What PC-3.0 measures is productivity, are you doing enough within the WUs in progress and if 
    not, what are you going to do about it?
-  The current rate of progress is reflected in the projected completion of the WU and its impact
    on the control program.
-  At the project level, the same question – what are you going to do to overcome a slippage or lock
    in a gain?

The core elements of Controls 3.0 are:

  1. PC-3.0 starts once the project delivery time-frame is set as a defined objective or contract commitment. Any appropriate planning process can be used to establish the overall project duration, etc., and the better this work is done the more likely a successful outcome.
  2. Within the preset time-frame establish an overall strategy for the project down to the ‘work unit’ level including budget, time, and objectives and contingencies. This should be relatively stable.
  3. Plan the work of the current and next ‘work units’ in detail – these should be 4 to 6 months’ worth of work, assigned to a responsible manager.
  4. At each update calculate the current status and work achieved, and based on the work achieved use WPM to predict the likely completion of the ‘work unit’.
  5. Based on the status and prediction, require the work unit manager to implement changes in the way future work is planned to ensure the work unit completes as planned.

PC-3.0 is designed to fit any size of project and adapt to any management methodology. It offers a consistent, robust approach to project controls focused on driving a successful project outcome.


PC-3.0 Driving Philosophy

PC-3.0 Overview

The philosophy driving PC-3.0 is pragmatic decision-making needs useful information at the right time. This requires a simplified project controls approach focused on:

  • Dividing the project into discrete management areas (Work Units)
  • A robust controls system that delivers timely information that is accurate enough to be useful
  • A management team empowered to take action and make decisions to change the future course of the project’s work
  • Proactive problem solving focused on achieving the project’s objectives.

You cannot change history, but proactive management can change the future. The elements of PC-3.0, at the assessment date are:

  1. Knowing what work was planned to be accomplished
  2. Knowing how much work has been achieved
  3. Applying Work Performance Management (WPM) to understanding what the likely consequences of the current production rate is on the projected completion
  4. Doing something to change an unacceptable projection.
The PC-3.0 reporting process should take less than a week and is focused on time and resources. Implementing PC-3.0 needs flexibility in the management of the work, supported by both the project controls system and the contractual framework. Some historical information will still be important, particularly cost data, and where used EVM data, but these information flows come later.


PC-3.0 Structure

PC-3.0 is designed to provide a consistent and repeatable controls function to support the successful delivery of most projects. To be used effectively three elements of the project need to be agreed and understood:

  1. The project’s objective has to be understood and capable of being measured in terms of the work required to achieve this. The work being measured may be the whole project or the current iteration or release. The important elements are understanding what has to be accomplished, what finished looks like, and what work is needed to achieve this objective.
  2. The time available to accomplish the objective. The primary focus of PC-3.0 is completion of the work on time.
  3. The budget allowed to accomplish the objective. PC-3.0 sees cost as an outcome (a lagging indicator), but never the less cost is an important element in the successful delivery of most projects.

The management control point in a PC-3.0 project is the individual Work Units (WU). Each WU will typically be:

  • Several months in duration
  • Encompasses a complete area of work within the project. This may be a discipline (eg, design), a phase (leading to a milestone or phase gate), a major component, or for smaller projects, the entire project
  • The responsibility of an assigned manager leading an integrated project team, with authority to control and direct the work.

Generally, the project’s management structure (OBS) should mirror its product (or work) breakdown structure (PBS) both of which should focus on producing the deliverables required to achieve the project’s objectives.

Each integrated project team (IPT) or WU Manager is empowered to manage the delivery of their WU including making decisions within defined parameters to ensuring the product is completed on time and complies fully with scope, quality, and technical requirements. Where a decision affects another WU recommendations are raised to the next level of management for approval.


Implementing PC-3.0

PC-3.0 Structure

The core steps to implement PC-3.0, once the project's objectives have been set, are:

  1. Establish an overall strategy for the project, including setting the overall budget, time, and key sub-objectives. The strategy determines how the project’s contractual objectives (or senior management objectives) will be delivered.
  2. Break the project down into appropriate WUs to implement the strategy, including assigning the budget, time, and sub-objectives for each WU.
  3. Describe the project strategy in an overall Road Map determining the timing for each WU. The Road Map may be in the form of a CPM master schedule or a simple bar chart depending on the project.
  4. Baseline the overall strategy, including the WUs and Road Map, to set the overall framework for delivering the project. Normally, this is not changed unless the project objectives change.
  5. Map all control tools to the WUs – no exceptions.
  6. Each WU should be delivered by an integrated project team (IPT) authorized to manage their work, with full authority to decide and act within defined parameters. Ideally each IPT will include a client representative with authority to actively assist in the delivery of the work, no one benefits from a late project.
  7. Senior management within the project focus on the interfaces between WUs.
  8. Only plan in detail what you know in detail, one WU at a time.
  9. Different WUs will require different work methods and therefore different planning methods – use the one that works best for each WU.
  10. Flexibility is required to adapt the short-term plan for the WU to deal with issues and achieve the outcomes set in the baseline.
  11. Reporting focuses on the time needed to complete in-progress WUs, not what has been done. Predictive calculations are based on Work Performance Management (WPM) .
  12. WU management focuses on defining the issues to be resolved, implementing actions to mitigate their effect on the WU’s objectives, and deciding what will be done to reverse unacceptable trends.

Project control and reporting is exercised at the WU level. The PC-3.0 information on progress and predictions should be available to the WU management within one or two days of the end of the reporting period, allowing the corrective actions to be decided and implemented within a week (the controls information should not be a surprise). Cost, EVM, and other reports should be aligned with the WUs, but are likely to still require several weeks to obtain the information and be processed.


PC-3.0 Work Units (WU)

The WU is the core element in PC-3.0. In many respects a WU is similar to:

  • Work Packages or Control Accounts in EVM and traditional WBS
  • Assemblies in a Product Breakdown Structure
  • Phases in projects that have a staged development process
  • An iteration, or a release in software projects
  • Subprojects in projects that have different elements or sections of work.

The primary difference between a WU and other project breakdowns is its size and management accountability. Each WU should be big enough to be managed, but small enough to overcome, or quarantine any problems that arise. As with other project breakdowns, the full scope of the project should be included in the WUs. This means there is likely to be at least one WU that has no product deliverables, but includes the general management of the overall project and any supporting functions. The other WUs should include all of the work required to deliver the output, including the direct management of each WU.

In most cases each WU will cover a complete area, or phase of work, minimizing the number of interfaces to other WUs. The exception is some project wide systems that need to function as a single entity, an example would be power loading and balancing across a major industrial complex. Generally, to the extent possible the physical components (wiring, piping, etc.) should be included in the WU they are physically a part of. However, the overall design, management, and commissioning of the system is the responsibility of a specialist WU. Where possible, this type of interface should be managed by having a member of the specialist WU team seconded to be part of each of the IPTs responsible for the delivery of the WUs containing the physical elements of work.

Managing Work Units

The key to PC-3.0 is using pragmatic controls information to inform proactive decision making within each WU. The two objectives being to enable other WUs to perform their work as intended, and to complete the current WU on time. If these two objectives are achieved efficiently, costs will be minimized.

The techniques used to manage each WU should be adapted to the needs of the work, the method chosen may include Agile, various disciplined approaches, Lean, CPM, or any combination of the foregoing, as agreed with the overall project management. The management approach used should be flexible and adaptive, responding to the current situation and focusing on achieving the required outcomes.

For example, if a detailed CPM schedule is being used to manage a WU, after progress is recorded at each update, the future work in the schedule needs to be to be reorganized to the extent necessary to manage out of sequence working, and properly allocate work to the available resources. If necessary, the additional capability needed to deliver the WU on time should be obtained. Planning is proactive and adaptive focusing on optimizing the completion of the WU rather than worrying about what has occurred. In this situation the control metric is 'activity days' as described in Using WPM to augment CPM predictions.

WU Management

Some WU's may need different measurements for different phases of the work. In this example, a manufacturing WU, there is the start-up phase prior to the production of the first unit, the main production phase, and a close down phase. The main part of the work can be measured using the normal WPM processes. The other two phases may be relatively short and while in progress simply need an estimate to the end of the phase, or if longer, apply the WPM technique described in WUs Without a Simple Measure with 'weeks' as the metric.

While the management of each WU is expected to be dynamic, adaptive, and focused on achieving the WU’s objectives, the reporting requirements for each WU are standardized. The IPT running each WU is required to report on three key factors within 5 days of the end or the reporting period:

  1. The amount of time needed to complete the WU, calculated using WPM.
  2. Identified issues and challenges that are affecting (or will potentially affect) the calculated time to complete including:
       a. Stalled work – little progress since last reporting period
       b. Technical debt / carry over.
  3. Proposed actions to recover any projected late completion.

For each issue, the WU’s issues log should record the issue’s: name / description / root cause / consequence / key stakeholders (incl. other managers) / trend in list position / time in the list / action diary (who – what – when).
See more on Issues Management

Work Performance Management (WPM) requires a defined metric to measure the quantity of work in each WU that is robust and unambiguous and focused on the progressive completion of work to minimize WIP. This can be different in each WU. The calculation of the time needed to complete the WU is based on the WPM principle that projects the current rate of performance onto the incomplete portion of the WU. This is not affected by the proactive and adaptive planning of future work. However, systems do need to be in place to keep the IPT honest and minimize the probability of error, this is helped by the simple rigor of WPM.

Blg: A focus on Work-Flow Little’s Law suggests that any increase in WIP automatically increases lead times! To borrow from Lean: WIP is a waste and needs to be minimized. This post explains the concept of queuing theory used in PC-3.0. 

Blg: Multi-Tasking and the Bow Wave Effect From a scheduling perspective, the inevitable consequence of too much WIP is to require people to multi-task. If you do not have enough people to do all of the work, each person is will either be working on multiple tasks simultaneously or will abandon a partially complete task to start then next in response to management pressures. This is always a problem, but the focus on work completed in PC-3.0, will help management see through the problem. 


PC-3.0 Key Concepts and Definitions


IPT = Integrated Project Team - the people responsible for managing a WU.

PC-3.0 = Project Controls 3.0 - a new paradigm for successfully controlling the delivery of a project.

WPM = Work Performance Management - the method used to assess status and predicted completion
               of each WU in progress.

WU = Work Unit - each WU is a management control point in a PC-3.0 project.

The terminology used for the data points in WPM is:

  • WP = Work Planned measured in an appropriate unit – cumulative over time
  • WA = Work Accomplished measured on the same basis as WP
  • PC = Planned Completion project duration in time units (working days, weeks, months)
  • TN = Time Now the number of PC time units to the date of assessment
  • TE = Time Earned the number of PC time units to the point where WA = WP

From this information, the work performance measures are calculated as follows:

  • WPV = Work Performed Variance TE - TN, negative values show the schedule slip in PC time units
  • WPI  = Work Performed Index TE/TN, values less than 1.0 show less work has been accomplished
                 than planned
  • EC    = Expected Completion the expected project duration in PC time units: PC/WPI = EC

Concepts & Definitions

Road Map: The time phased plan for accomplishing the WUs to achieve the overall project delivery strategy. The Road Map may be in the form of a CPM schedule, a bar chart or any other plan that sets the start and completion time for each WU.

Project Strategy: The overall control document for the project describing what work has to be accomplished (scope), how the work will be undertaken and managed (methodology or methodologies), and how completion is defined and measured (what done looks like).

Work Performance Management (WPM): A project controls methodology designed to calculate the current status, and predicted completion date of any project or WU in a consistent, repeatable, and defensible way, based on the ratio between the Work Planned, and Work Accomplished.

Work Unit (WU): Each WU is a self-contained component of the project being managed that is managed by a responsible person or IPT to achieve its deliverables on time. Togeter, the WUs cover 100% of the project scope and form the basis of the project's strategy and Road Map.


Useful External Web-links & Resources

PP: Project Controls 3.0 (PC-3.0). The purpose of this paper is to provide an overview of Project Controls 3.0 (PC-3.0). PC-3.0 is designed to build onto the existing developments in project management and project controls to:
1. Overcome the problems apparent in the current diverse range of project management and controls practices,
2. Implement a simple, robust system that is effective for all types of project delivery, and
3. Refocus the controls effort on helping management craft success, rather than report on history.
This paper is in two parts, the first part looks at the evolution of project controls and identifies some of the current issues and challenges. The second is a brief overview to introduce the concept of PC-3.0.
Download the original June 2024 PMWJ article.

Prs: Baked In Optimism – Why so many projects fail. This presentation looks at two processes that are ‘baked into’ standard project management estimating and control to show how recommended good practices are still optimistically biased. When preparing an estimate good practice recommends using Monte Carlo to determine an appropriate contingency and the level of risk to accept, but the typical range distributions used are biased – they ignore the ‘long tail’. When reporting progress, the estimating bias should be identified and rectified to offer a realistic projection of a project outcome. Standard cost and schedule processes typically fail to adequately deal with this challenge meaning the final time and cost overruns are not predicted until late in the project. This presentation highlights some of the causes for these problems - View the webinar on our Risk Assessment Page.

PP: Predicting Completion in Agile & Distributed Projects. The focus of this paper is to offer a practical solution to the challenge of assessing progress and the likely completion date in agile and distributed projects where the traditional concept of a ‘critical path’ simply does not exist. The paper describes the current application of EVM and ES to this type of project. It then introduces the concept of Work Performance Management (WPM) as a robust and practical alternative for determining the current status and the predicted completion date for projects that are not using EVM, and are not suited to the CPM paradigm. The theoretical underpinnings of WPM are identified together with the concept of ‘work units’ and the basis of the WPM calculations.
Download the original PMWJ article.  


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