The Project Control Cycle

Construction is a dynamic process, and no two projects are ever alike. Every job presents a new set of circumstances and challenges no matter how good a job you do preparing during the pre-construction stage. The project manager and superintendent work together to come up with the best plan they can. They try to anticipate every obstruction and difficulty that might impede progress and jeopardize the successful completion of the project. But even they still can’t foresee every contingency. 

Even with all of this expert planning, the project must be monitored from beginning to end to ensure that all of the targets for time, cost, and quality are met. The whole process must be properly managed through a project control system that utilizes the plans, specs, estimate, and schedule. 

All of these documents taken together establish the road map for getting from the start of construction to the final completion of the project. Using this road map, the project manager and superintendent must maneuver all of the resources in the right direction, making adjustments as they go, to keep the project on track and on target. Project control requires continuous monitoring and evaluation of actual performance relative to the estimated performance for all aspects of the job that have an impact on cost, time, and quality. 

Project Control in 7 Steps

The project control cycle begins with the project plan and ends with the final project debriefing and evaluation. There are seven fundamental steps to the process:

 1. Develop the project plan.

2. Establish the project performance.

3. Monitor the project performance.

4. Identify performance deviations.

5. Evaluate corrective options.

6. Make adjustments as needed.

7. Document, report, and evaluate results.

It is important to track every aspect of project performance all the way back to the planning stage. This is where every project begins, and it is where every project should end – with a complete debriefing and evaluation of what worked and what didn’t work. It is also a time to reconcile actual costs and labor productivity information to update existing company records in preparation for the next cycle of project planning and estimating. It is an excellent opportunity to capture lessons learned to create some best practices for future implementation. 

Unfortunately, many construction teams fail to complete the last step in the cycle and never properly assess their project’s overall performance. Everyone is usually anxious to move on to the next project, and it is very tough to get all of the parties together for even a couple of hours at the end of the job. It takes a great deal of discipline to consistently take advantage of this opportunity and learn from it.  

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