The role of a Program Planning and Controls (PP&C) person is unique to government, large construction, aerospace and defense business. In this role there is a separation between managing the prformanc of the work and the reporting on the progress of this work to the plan.
In many commercial projects - like IT projects - the measure of Physical Percent Complete is hard to come by for many reasons:
- The picture of "done" does not really exist because the requirements for the project are not firm.
- The picture of "done" is changing as the project proceeds.
- It's an agile project where "done" is a moving target. Or at least an emerging target.
In projects where "done" is defined in advance - to some resolution - measuring done is best performed through an independent assessment process. This is the approach taken in the fields mentioned above.
So what is the role of the "independent" assessment?
- Maintain the integrity of the Baseline schedule and cost
- Retain all the records of changes to Scope, Schedule, Budget and other variables
- Analyze the variances in these variables
- Highlight the trends in these variances and forecast the future trends and the impacts
- Identify roadblocks to progress and their mitigations
- Record programmatic risks and their mitigations
- Report progress to plan for cost and schedule
- Provide an Independent Estimate at Completion (IEAC)
Now what's the benefit of these roles to the project or program?
- The first one is an independent assessment of progress to plan. How many times has the project manager asked the developers or construction people "where are you in the plan?" "Oh we're 38% complete." "Really?" "38% of what?" "38% of the money has been spent?" "38% of the time has passed?" or "38% of the planned value has been delivered for the planned cost at the planned time?"
The latter is the real answer. The former is the typical answers.
- With an independent assessment of progress to plan, the PP&C staff can now provide forecasts of the future. "If we keep going at this rate of spending and progress, we'll end up with this cost on this day." With this information, a conversation can take place about what to do about this forecast.
In the end the separation of managing the work from managing the cost and schedule means
Moving from reporting past performance to forecasting future performance