Strategic Project Management–Project Monitoring

The first part of Terry Schmidt’s book Strategic Project Management Made Simple introduces the concept of the Logical Framework Matrix and shows how it proceeds from four critical strategic questions.   The second part of his book goes into detail regarding those four critical strategic questions.   However, both of these parts of the book are essentially dealing with the initiating and planning process groups.   What about the executing and the monitoring & controlling process groups?   How can the Logical Framework Matrix be used for these processes?    That is the subject of the third part of the book.

1.  Think-Plan-Act-Access action cycle

The traditional Deming project cycle is Plan-Do-Check-Act, where these phases corresponding to the project management process groups in the following way:

  • Plan–planning
  • Do–executing
  • Check–monitoring
  • Act–controlling

Terry Schmidt revises this cycle, with the phases in his cycle corresponding to the project management process groups in the following way:

  • Think–initiating (strategic/program focus)
  • Plan–planning (project focus)
  • Act–executing
  • Assess–monitoring & controlling

The three types of assessment including under the phase of “Assess” are:

  1. Project Monitoring
  2. Project Status Review
  3. Project Evaluation

This post deals with the first type of assessment, Project Monitoring, and how it is enabled by the Logical Framework Matrix.

2.  Project Monitoring

The three levels of Objectives are

  • Goal
  • Purpose
  • Outcomes

The inputs are the breakdown of the activities and resources used to create the Outcomes.   Project Monitoring is simply an assessment of the progress being made in turning those Inputs into Outcomes.

A fine-grained way of assessing progress is Earned Value Analysis, which is not detailed in Terry Schmidt’s book.   The first level of assessment should be establishing major milestones, which consist of the following:

  • Completion of an Outcome
  • Start or completion of critical activities towards completion of an Outcome
  • Verification of Assumptions
  • Periodic reviews

Rather than waiting until the deadlines for these events, a project manager should have “trip-wires” in his or her schedule that allow for monitoring progress a certain amount of time BEFORE the milestones or deadlines occur so that any extra resources can be added to assure that those milestones are met.

3.  Trip-wire conversations

Rathering than asking your project team “how is it going” in general at the trip-wire events, you should ask the following conversation starters:

  • Are you having any difficulties that would keep you from meeting targets?
  • Are you getting the support you need from others?
  • Is there anything else I should know about the support you need (i.e., if you are not getting it, where is the bottleneck occurring)
  • What do you need from me?

Notice that the last type of “milestone” listed above were “periodic reviews.”   That will be the subject of the next post.




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