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Once a project reaches the Execution and Control phase, a project team and all necessary resources should be in place or lined up to perform the project tasks at specific start and end dates. The project plan has been developed and baselined.

The project team shifts its focus away from discovery to participating, observing, and analyzing what is being done. The critical elements for the project management team are:

  • Track and monitor project activities to measure actual performance to planned performance
  • Review and communicate status and future actions
  • Execute a change management process to control changes to the project's objectives, specifications and overall definition
  • Execute an issue tracking process to ensure that there is a central repository for project issues that are addressed in a timely fashion
  • Have in place a corrective action process to document and track plans to correct any issue that impacts the plan and which establishes guidelines for replanning
  • Have in place an onging process to identify and manage project risks

These elements represent ongoing activities that occur throughout the life of the project.


  Policy and Standards

  All projects should:

  1. Use a Standard Project Process, as-is or as-tailored to meet project-specific requirements,
  2. Obtain approval for any project-specific tailoring of a Standard Project Process,
  3. Document any project-specific tailoring of a Standard Project Process,
  4. Perform project acitivities according to the project's Defined Process,
  5. Collect and store appropriate project examples and measurement data for future use,
  6. Use and maintain a documented and approved project development plan as the basis for tracking actual results and performance of the project,
  7. Keep the Project Manager informed of the project's status and issues,
  8. Take corrective actions, such as adjusting performance or adjusting the plans, when the project plan is not being achieved,
  9. Manage the corrective actions to closure,
  10. Make changes to the project commitments with the involvement and agreement of the affected groups, such as engineering, estimating, systems integration, testing, quality assurance, configuration management, contract management, and documentation support, and
  11. Ensure that senior management reviews all commitment changes and new commitments made to individuals and groups external to the organization.


  The responsibilities for Project Execution and Control are summarized below:

  • Initiative Sponsors and Senior Managers are responsible for reviewing project status reports and providing guidance to Project Managers.
  • Project Managers are responsible for overseeing the execution and control of the project
  • Project Managers are responsible for preparing and delivering project status reports to senior management
  • Project Managers are responsible for managing the day-to-day execution and control of the project, including performing risk management, issue management, and overseeing the activities of team members.


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Track and Report Performance

To ensure that the project is moving forward as planned, Project Managers and Software Project Managers must constantly monitor and track progress. Monitoring project progress gives the team a warning system for problems with the project, which allows the team to resolve them early and avoid more costly changes later. Reporting project progress and performance helps Senior Managers and Initiative Sponsors to focus their attentions on those projects that require assistance. One of the primary responsibilities of Senior Managers is to remove project obstacles and provide an escalation path to help solve unresolved issues.

Working with the Senior Manager and the Iniative Sponsor, the Project Manager will determine how often to monitor the schedule, staff time, and budget "actuals". Actuals are the real expenditures of money or staff time during the project, or the completion dates of scheduled activities for the project. How often the actuals are tracked or monitored depends on how fast the work of the project is being done. For example, if a project will last only two months, actuals should be tracked at least once a week. If the project will last two years, actuals should be tracked at least once a month.

Compare the schedule, staff time, and budget actuals to the plan and identify any variances. A variance occurs when the project is behind or ahead of plan. Variances can be positive (the project is ahead of schedule) or negative (the project is over budget). Critical variances indicate the project as a whole is off track.

Best Practice Tip:


When we speak of Earned Value, we are generally speaking of a methodology that is used to track and monitor the health of a project. While Earned Value is just one methodology, it is an excellent predictive tool. The simplest way to think of Earned Value is to equate it with physical progress measured against the baseline in budgetary terms. As the name implies, it asks, "What did I get for what I've spent? In Earned Value project management, value can only be earned as components are delivered.

Consequently, Earned Value is a measure of tangible progress. There is a direct relationship between Earned Value and percent complete, although percent complete is more suspect. That is, many tasks have been known to go to 90% complete, and then stay 90% complete for a really long time.

The attributes of Earned Value are threefold. First, it is a uniform unit of measure for total project progress or for any sub-element of the project. Second, it is a consistent method for analysis of project progress and performance. Third, it is a basis for cost performance analysis of a project.

The diagram below depicts a summary of the information that can be determined by using an earned-value system.

Click here to see expanded image

The BCWS is the Budgeted Cost of Work Scheduled. Quite literally, it represents the budgets of the activities that are planned or scheduled to be completed.

The ACWP is the Actual Cost of Work Performed. Again, quite literally, it represents the actual cost charged against the activities that were completed.

The BCWP is the Budgeted Cost of Work Performed. This is the traditional Earned Value that we speak of. It represents the planned cost of the activities that are actually completed. The distinction between the BCWS and the BCWP is that the former represents the budget of the activities that were planed to be completed and the latter represents the budget of the activities that actually were completed.

These are the three major components of Earned Value. At any point in time, we have the planned work, the actual work and the cost of the actual work. This allows us to make the full analysis of our project progress and performance.

Some of the other, related terms shown in the figure, include the Budget At Completion (BAC), the Estimate At Completion (EAC), the Schedule Variance (SV) and the Cost Variance (CV). All of these indicators, when used consistently, can provide an accurate measure of project health.

The project leader can determine if the project is ahead of, behind or on schedule by comparing the actual completion dates with the projected completion dates of project activities and milestones. Similarly, if costs were budgeted for the project, the Project Manager can compare actual expenditures with the planned expenditures to determine if the project is under, over, or on budget.

Project variances, high-level risks, unresoled issues, and any other information usefull in evaluating the health of the project are reported in the Project Status Report (see template offering above).

The Project Status report is a formal document that Project Managers use to keep senior management and the Iniative Sponsor(s) aware of project progress. A good management-level project status report must be a concise conduit through which Project Managers can indicate status "at-a-glance" and still raise critical issues, illustrate risk status and variances that senior managers may be able to resolve. You'll find our Project Status Report template easy to tailor to the needs of your project, and because of its embedded help feature, it's a great way to communicate project status to your more senior stakeholders. In addition, all variances are claculated automatically.

Control Changes


Controlling changes is about responding to changes to the project's scope. Having a process for managing change gives the team a way of revising the project plan, when needed, so that the project stays focused on satisfying the needs of the stakeholders.

A single Change Management function should be used to manage changes to all projects. Requests for changes may come from both inside and outside of the immediate project team. Some changes in the environment (e.g., regulatory or competitive changes) can affect the project as well. Once a potential change has been identified, it is recorded and notification is sent to the project's Configuration Manager who will assign responsibility to evaluate the change and ultimately convene a Configuration Control Board (CCB) to determine if the change should be budgeted and implemented, placed on hold, or rejected.

An approved change almost always means that some portion of the project plan must be changed. It is the Project Manager's responsibility to incorporate any required changes by amending the appropriate parts of the project plan and re-baselining it.

Manage Risks and Issues


Risks and Issues, while managed with very similar processes are quite different.

Issues reflect problems or obstacles that the project is actually experiencing.

Risks address the "what if?" and identify potential problems that will affect the project if they, in fact, do occur.

Risk Management

Risk identification, monitoring, and resolution are key tools to successfully completing a project. Part of controlling a project during the execution phase is to have an established risk management process. This process is begun as part of project planning and is kept current until the project close-out.

For additional information on establishing a risk management process, refer to Detailed Project Planning.

Issue Management

Issue management is a process that provides a mechanism to process and review issues. Issues that develop during the project need a way to be raised by the project team and for the project team to know that they will be addressed.

When issues arise, they need to be resolved in a consistent and disciplined manner in order to maintain the quality of the deliverables, as well as to control schedules and cost. The Issue Resolution Process ensures that the differences, questions, and unplanned requests are defined properly, escalated for management attention, and resolved quickly and efficiently.

The Issue Management Process should handle technical problems or issues, as well as process, organizational, and operational issues. The process considers:

  • Appropriate procedures for issue escalation
  • Level of management that needs to be involved for escalation
  • Required time for resolution
  • Responsibility for researching or resolving the issue

Learn more! If you would like to learn more about the Project Management Framework or have any questions, please contact the Ball of Gold Project Office.

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