This paper looks at the principle ‘good practice’ components of a project controls function (either in house or outsourced) to address any common issues in the industry, particularly in North America.
Project controls represents an integrated approach to managing the budget, schedule, data and documents for a project, as well as providing relevant analysis of these. It is often utilised in conjunction with project management in order to increase transparency and coordination and reduce risk related to budget, schedule and other factors.
In some markets, with the UK as an example, project controls is considered an integral element of project management. In North America, this is not always the case.
Many clients bring in project controls practitioners only once major issues arise, or take an a la carte approach, utilising project controls practitioners to assist in a particular area or schedule or budget or data or documentation.
The source of practitioners, particularly in the US, is also fragmented. Project controls are offered as an element of programs such as engineering or project management rather than as a separate course of study.
The value proposition for utilising project controls is the potential for reduction of risk and uncertainty. Properly performed, integrated project controls provides greater transparency into ongoing budget, schedule and other factors of a project. Project controls practitioners collate data and also provide analysis of the data they collect. Cost and schedule are the key areas for project controls, but when properly performed, project controls can improve other areas such as record keeping, cost data collection and ease claims resolution.
For project controls to advance as a profession in the North American market, project controls need to be viewed and utilized increasingly as an integrated element of project management. Client firms need to be educated about the possible full usage of project controls and the potential benefits. At the same time, there needs to be a development of training that encompasses the essential skills for project controls in the North American market so that project controls professionals can be developed to fill these roles.
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