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  • Writer's pictureKris Stozek

Are Your Project Controls Built In or Bolted On?

Updated: Aug 13, 2020

Questions You Need to Ask About Your Organization


Project Controls professionals: I want to start a real conversation with you!

Read the article below, come back with your questions, and let’s get real!


Whether your project controls are bolted on to your organization or built in seems like it should be an easy question to answer. Ideally, they would be built in at the DNA level, both culturally and functionally – an indispensable asset that drives your critical objectives.

But are they? Before it can get to that ideal, an organization often starts with bolting project controls on to the corporate structure.

Achieving the built-in state is a journey of excellence, and you need to have a solid vision for what it looks like. In a session at the recent Project Control Virtual Summit hosted by the Project Control Academy, we shared cornerstones of an effective, built-in project controls organization:

  • The enterprise needs a fully integrated asset management and asset delivery program, with capital projects managed as an investment portfolio.

  • The project controls infrastructure should be fully integrated with the company's business rules and other business management programs.

  • The enterprise processes, data and tool sets must be built for full integration. They've got to provide single sources of truth and 360-degree feedback to support the organization's decision-making process.

  • From the moment the enterprise decides to integrate systems, it must engage all stakeholders in the organization change management process and keep them engaged.

The resulting enterprise portfolio management organization is a complex system. Below, we break it down into its component parts with some questions you can ask yourself about each one to help you determine whether your organization is as integrated as it could be.

Enterprise Integration

  • Do you currently integrate enterprise business planning with project management?

  • Do you leverage project forecasts when establishing annual budgets, using project forecast dates and cash-flows as well as robust enterprise change control, both top-down (enterprise to project) and bottom-up (project to enterprise)?

  • Do you integrate current project work with ongoing operations?

  • Who is responsible for making decisions; which work/scope is priority?

  • Have you identified and assigned a responsible organization/process to every element of your portfolio?

Project Controls Infrastructure

  • Do you have a standard set of governance rules for project controls, and does it identify the integration points to other organizations in your enterprise?

  • Do you manage all projects with one set of requirements, or do you change requirements based on the complexity and cost of each project?

  • Have you incorporated a standard set of decision points, or gates, and do you evaluate the cost and benefit of progressing the project work to the next phase?

  • Have you mapped all your processes to see how they flow, enabling you to see the timing and flow of both work and decisions between organizations and data exchange between the tools within your enterprise?

System Integration and Analytics

  • Are you using the right tools for the job?

  • Do you have the right level of integration and automation across systems? In other words, does it add to or eliminate duplication of effort across the organizations?

  • Are your people trained to use the tools correctly, or do you silo your workforce to only know individual tools essential to their job?

  • Are the tools configured to support your processes?

  • Are all applications aligned by time periods in a reporting calendar, and do you have well-defined daily, weekly, monthly, and annual periods?

  • Do your people and applications observe the required “freezes” to support these periods?

  • Have you identified the single source of truth for each data element in your enterprise?

  • Have you identified key positions/personnel responsible for data quality and system health of each tool?

  • Have you determined the right KPIs for your business and measures for performance and productivity?

Enterprise Organizational Integration

  • Are your organizations aligned and integrated?

  • Where does each organization participate in the enterprise business planning process?

  • Is upwards reporting reliable? In other words, are all projects measured the same way using standardized tools and metrics?

  • How progressive is your organization with respect to change? Will they embrace change, or will they fight it?

  • How long has it been since a major organizational change occurred in your enterprise?

At Modus Project Services, we recognize that every enterprise is different, and their stages of maturity vary. We’ve worked with most technologies used for project, portfolio and asset management.

As a result, we realize that tools are not the solution when it comes to attaining a built-in project controls organization. The overall business process is the solution. Answers to these questions will go a long way toward understanding how far along your organization’s business processes are toward achieving this vision.

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