How project controls benefit project managers

May 23, 2023 | 7 minute read
Rick Bell
Senior Content Marketing Manager
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With proper planning, procedures and governance, a successful construction project is sure to follow.

The Construction Industry Institute defines project controls as a process encompassing the resources, procedures, and tools for the planning, monitoring, and controlling of all phases of the capital project lifecycle. This includes estimating, cost and schedule management, risk management, change management, earned value management, and forecasting.

When working with wider organizational teams like finance and commercial, project managers can use project controls to determine how they will deliver their outputs and check performance through a project’s lifecycle. Let’s examine the core elements of project controls and how project managers can adapt project controls to identify potential critical issues. According to the Association for Project Management’s publication, Senior Managers’ Guide to Project Controls – Making the Case for Investing in Project Controls, a key benefit project controls offers is the ability to accelerate and visualize problems before they have a significant impact on your project. Project- and portfolio-level controls help assure successful project execution and portfolio optimization, allowing project managers to track and control project parameters.

Join our webcast: Improve project control and performance: Connect cost, schedule and scope and leave siloed data behind

Project controls includes:

• Managing time—Project managers can plan, schedule, and control large-scale programs and individual projects. Oracle Primavera scheduling solutions including Primavera P6 EPPM and Oracle Primavera Cloud Schedule provide schedule support across industries and throughout the world.
• Managing cost—Oracle Primavera Unifier provides vigorous cost controls, including connected forecasting, cash flow, funding contract and risk management, at project, portfolio and organization levels. Primavera Unifier also includes schedule milestone tracking based on Primavera scheduling and includes an out of the box integration with Primavera scheduling solutions.
• Managing risk—Primavera Unifier engages team members to identify, assess, cost, judge, and mitigate risk and threats across projects.

• Managing change—Primavera Unifier manages change proposals, reviews, and approvals, seamlessly updating contracts and commits accordingly. Schedulers can be automatically notified of relevant schedule impacts.
• Reporting, performance management and decision-making—Oracle Construction Intelligence Cloud Analytics, pulling data from Oracle Construction and Engineering solutions including Primavera Scheduling and Primavera Unifier, provides an unsurpassed picture using integrated processes and data to inform complete decision-making.
• Information management—With Primavera Unifier, everything about a project is stored in a single, secure system, enabling visibility into potential issues via alerts, dashboards and reports before delays or cost overruns occur.
• Improved communications—Full visibility into all communications guarantees transparency across stakeholders, keeps everyone on the same page and keeps workflow and approval cycles moving forward.

Three golden rules to modernize project controls

It’s crucial to empower project professionals to tackle high-value work. The Senior Managers Guide to Project Controls states that projects will be more successful when team members plan ahead (analyze, plan, and execute) instead of spending time looking for and tracking information (searching and tracking to create reports, which ironically are often outdated upon completion). The guide adds that awareness is critical. The various disciplines of project controls helped to identify and highlight the issues. The project team was then clear about where to focus their attention and energy to resolve the issues.

  • Rule 1: Automate as much as you can.
  • Rule 2: Leverage best-practice project expertise.
  • Rule 3: Implement open solutions that connect to other systems for cross-discipline process integration.

Modern project controls systems were designed to be easily configurable, interface with your other project solutions, and to be forward looking. You can expect:

  • Visibility into project status and health.
  • Project-wide access to the right information by the right people at the right time.
  • An integrated system on a single platform to understand how various aspects impact each other, for example, how scope and schedule changes impact project cost.

The value and benefits of project controls

As you can see, project controls unite a range of project processes and data so that project managers can have visibility and control over factors impacting project progress and performance and can make more informed timely decisions.

project controls
"Improve project control and performance"

The Senior Managers Guide to Project Controls emphasizes that well-planned, efficient project controls boost the probability of a successful, on-time project. Project controls also allow for a rarity in construction: the chance to objectively evaluate, consult with others, and consider the information they’ve gathered on their project. There are clear objectives for the entire project team to work toward.

1. Be proactive

Know when the bus is coming rather than getting the license plate of the bus that just hit you. Project controls solutions should be tailored to the size, scale, and complexity of the organization in which they are being applied. Before putting it into practice, it is key to assess what needs to be controlled and what your priorities are.

The Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation (HART) implemented Oracle CIC Analytics to improve project controls. Their legacy solutions and processes were creating unnecessary inefficiencies that needed to be remedied. They turned to Oracle Primavera Unifier to improve efficiencies and productivity  And added CIC Analytics, which is integrated with Primavera Unifier, to augment project controls with insightful feedback while encouraging more consistent performance behaviors among staff.

2. Single source of truth—data integrity and access

Project controls reduce errors, disputes, and claims. They allow the project manager to take a strategic view using trusted accurate and timely information. This enables to have the information, visibility and assurance they need to achieve their key responsibilities for delivering the project.

The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA) reflected on past projects, processes, and technologies but also had their mind on the future and knew project controls would be crucial for its major capital projects plan. The organization reviewed available technologies, seeking a system to support bringing things in-house to work smarter, not harder. The authority selected Oracle Primavera Unifier to help meet current needs while providing the flexibility to adapt as their business needs evolved.

Once Oracle Primavera Unifier was implemented, the MWAA team saw:

•    Elimination of duplicate processes and development of a single source of truth.
•    Significant reduction of document management efforts with auto-publishing.
•    Resolution of major delay claims in a fraction of the time with time stamps and field reporting.

3. Clear, defined project success criteria and the ability to constantly measure against it on an ongoing basis

Know what project controls success looks like. Also, set consistent criteria across all projects in the portfolio to compare, learn, and improve from project to project.

For example, France-based Assystem integrated Oracle Primavera P6 EPPM and Oracle Primavera Unifier to easily access data, analyze root causes, and quickly take corrective actions to keep projects on track.

Since that time Assystem has experienced great advances in its project controls as it:
•    Streamlined quality compliance by digitalizing project management business processes using Oracle's Primavera Unifier forms and workflows.
•    Reduced time for approvals on change requests, change orders, and claims, thanks to Primavera Unifier’s form-based workflows for automatic routing and tracking and the system’s connected cost, contract and change processes, providing all needed information to make decisions quickly.

“Assystem now has full visibility into project completion percentage linked to the contract requirements,” says Arnaud Gerber, project management information systems manager for Assystem.

4. Coordination and visibility across the supply chain

Project controls reduce delays and miscommunication. With earlier notices of delays and automatic tracking project teams can better plan for changes in equipment and materials deliveries. Modifying work plans and reallocating resources between projects are examples of how project managers can help keep projects on track through greater visibility into their supply chain.

After implementing Oracle Primavera Unifier, Odisha Power Generation Corp. improved its project controls as it moved away from time-consuming manual process management as part of its commitment to innovation and the development of a single source of truth. The India-based power company cut information and drawing flow with contractors and suppliers, from weeks to just two to three days—over an astounding 80% savings in time.

The positive value of project controls

With increased economic and political pressures to maximize efficiency and proven technology with fast ROI more available than ever, organizations simply cannot afford to manage their capital programs without implementing modern project controls systems.

Following implementation of Primavera P6 EPPM, Primavera Unifier, and Oracle Fusion ERP, the Major Transport Infrastructure Authority (MTIA) in Victoria, Australia, increased control and efficiency over contract management, gained insight into potential risks from supply chain and standardized processes across the agency for comparison and continuous improvement.

Says Ian Van Dyk of the MTIA, “The new system has fundamentally changed our ways of working. Processes are more efficient and controlled.”

The Oracle Smart Construction Platform combines our industry-trusted applications with a common data environment and an ecosystem of partners to help owners and delivery teams work together and continuously improve performance. The platform connects teams and data, synchronizes work, and empowers individuals to make informed, proactive decisions. Power performance with proven Oracle Construction and Engineering solutions for scheduling, portfolio management, construction project management, project controls, construction payment management, and more.

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Rick Bell

Senior Content Marketing Manager


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