Jun 04 2014

Integrated Project Control – A Primer

What is Integrated Project Control?

If you’ve never heard of Integrated Project Control, or aren’t sure what it is, a good place to start is with an example.  Building the Olympic Village for the London 2012 Summer Olympics was a complex undertaking; a series of buildings and facilities to accommodate 10, 500 athletes, support teams and journalists involved with the Games, followed by the swift adaptations required to then host the Paralympics for 4,000 athletes.  Such an undertaking involves a massive amount of data, with thousands of construction workers all needing access to up-to-date information in order to stay on track. Leaders of such a programme want answers to questions such as “what are the risks and unknowns?”, “how do we deal with the impact of unknowns?”, and of course the bottom-line question “how can the risks impact the completion date and cost?”

Providing the answers to such questions goes to the crux of what Integrated Project Control is about.  It is about managing the impact of change on the delivery schedule and the cost of a project in a unified manner.

Project controls illustratedLondon 2012 exemplifies the impact of scale and complexity on the likelihood of change.  The bigger and more complex a project is, the higher the number of unknowns, and therefore the higher the risks of schedule delays and cost increases.

The four elements of Integrated Project Control – time, cost, quality & scope

Project Control brings together the four inter-dependent constraints involved in any capital infrastructure project: time, cost, scope and quality, in order to provide a complete understanding of the threats to a project.

The central responsibility of Project Control lies in the Project Management office (PMO).  PM’s were originally responsible for scheduling work and ensuring that things happened in the right sequence.  Gradually the demands of project controls have evolved – encompassing responsibility for understanding the dependencies between schedules, budgets & expenditure, scope and quality, hence the term Integrated Project Control.

Integrated Project Control is achieved via the coordination of all four elements. Complete visibility, and the provision of accurate, up-to-date information to those responsible for making decisions, ensures the effective management of risk in a programme.


Using Integrated Project Control to manage risk

A good project management team either knows the answers to risk-based questions or can get the answers to them. For example, what would be the impact of having to accommodate another 100 people in the Athletes’ Village at London 2012, or if there was a 12 week delay in the delivery of lifts?

With Integrated Project Control, you can answer these types of questions.  There will be a need to accommodate a design change or re-sequence activities.  In turn, these will have implications on resources, budgets and perhaps the completion date.  And from an audit perspective, it would be great if all the data and information supporting a change and its associated risks were available centrally on one platform.

An example where a unified approach to Project Control could have improved the management of risk and change is The Panama Canal project which has experienced cost overruns and other problems.  Pedro Alonso, a director from Sacyr the main contractor stated that “many unforeseen problems that forced up the cost, the exact quality of the stone, and certain geo-technical things (sic) that weren’t documented … the depth of different layers of earth.  Those are things beyond the consortium’s responsibility and should be covered by the client.”

So it can be seen that the timeliness of information is critical – so having real-time visibility of changes, and understanding the potential impact as early as possible can greatly improve decision making.

The solution is in the cloud

Software is critical to managing huge quantities of data, and a variety of tools are available to help.  One of the dangers here is that information silos are created if each contractor or team uses its own application, creating its own, slightly different, version of the truth. Bringing these together is often done in Excel – which brings with it inherent risks and opportunities for error.  The cloud represents an obvious enabler for solutions to the problem of silos and proprietary information for Integrated Project Control.

For a Project Control solution to be effective – everyone involved in the project should be working in and feeding into the same system.  Depending on your role and responsibilities it should give you access to the information you need to see in order to do your job, and empower you to make better decisions.

And the project management team should have visibility across the spectrum from a central dashboard. Up-to-date and accurate information at your fingertips, enabling you to make good, timely decisions.

Shard during constructionAbout CONJECT Project Control

CONJECT Project Control is a cloud-based system that provides project access to hundreds or thousands of workers.  And it’s been put through its paces.  During the building of the Olympic village, there were 2000 people accessing the software every day, resulting in the successful completion of around 40 separate assets.  Its usefulness and flexibility has also been proven on other high-profile projects, from the King’s Cross redevelopment to The Shard.









About the author

Michelle Mason

Michelle Mason leads the UK and MEAP Marketing team, with far too many years in B2B marketing to mention. A CONJECT newbie, Michelle is eagerly climbing a steep learning curve.

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