What is a Project Controls Manager?

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Project Controls are integral to ensure the quality of a project is to the required standard, and to give direction to the Project Manager with regards to time and cost. The Project Controls Manager (PCM) is responsible for collating and analysing the performance, time and cost data. A PCM plays a crucial role in overseeing and managing project activities, ensuring smooth progress, and ultimately contributing to project success.

 

Table of Contents

The Role and Responsibilities of the PCM

Every project is different, however the theory behind managing them with regards to time, cost and performance, remains the same. PCMs are important across all projects and sectors. The Project Manager directs the work of the project team; however, the PCM drives the delivery of the project, generating the data to assist the PM in making informed project decisions. Think of the PCM as being the navigator and the PM being the pilot. As a PCM, you are responsible for project planning & scheduling, cost estimating & monitoring, progress measurement, risk management, and reporting. You also  manage Project Controllers (the risk manager, project scheduler and cost controller) across these areas and  report to and provide guidance and consultation to the Project Manager/ PMO lead and Management.

As a direct result of his endeavours and his focus, we have seen a marked improvement in both the quality and consistency of our Project Controls funtion"

From this example the client benefited from clarity in workflows and processes which allow for smoother collaboration and task execution. This newfound clarity has enabled team members to better understand their roles and responsibilities, reducing the likelihood of misunderstandings and delays.

Risk

The PCM has a responsibility to each of the project controllers, who are the Risk Manager, Project Scheduler and Cost Manager:

  • The PCM helps the Risk Manager (RM) to facilitate and support Risk owners in the identification of risks and opportunities (R&O) and their treatment plans.
  • The PCM ensures the RM maintains a drumbeat of risk reporting and helps escalate any risks or issues.
  • The PCM coordinates and ensures the overall global vision of the R&O of the project.

Scheduling

  • The PCM assures the Baseline Schedule, taking into consideration any strategic milestones. They also review any baseline change requests (BCR) between the scheduler and PM to ensure that time cost and performance has been taken into consideration and if this BCR could cause an impact to milestones or risks.
  • The PCM is responsible for the Basis of Estimates (BoEs) to help shape the schedule.
  • The PCM performs Variance Reporting to a drumbeat to able to analyse the proposed schedule vs the actuals and then present the Earned Value Management (EVM) data to relevant stakeholders,

Cost

  • The PCM helps to shape and review the cost estimates and forecasts to ensure there have been robust basis of estimates used and that the bigger picture in terms of budget and deadlines have been considered.
  • Overseeing the project’s cost management strategy and aligning with the organisation’s financial requirements.
  • The PCM performs Variance Reporting to a drumbeat to be able to analyse the proposed costs vs the actuals and then present the data to the relevant stakeholders.
  • For information on the Cost Manager role, visit Cost Manager Role

Quality

  • The PCM ensures that all projects they manage meet the specified quality standards by implementing quality measures such as providing RAG status on project documents.
  • The PCM maintains the quality of the schedule, working with the PM to define and manage the Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) and WBS Dictionary, leading to early identification of scope creep.
  • The PCM helps manage the Continuous Improvement plan working with the team to streamline and improve processes, leading to increased productivity, better team relationships and higher customer satisfaction.

Stakeholder Management

  • The PCM serves as a bridge between the project team, clients, and other stakeholders.
  • The PCM facilitates effective communication, manages expectations, and ensures that all parties are aligned towards project goals.
  • The PCM manages the priorities between different functions and levels within the organisation to ensure they align with the top-level vision and strategy.
  • For further information on Stakeholder Management, visit Managing Stakeholders

RACI

The responsibilities of these people and how they interlink with each other, can be visually displayed in a RACI Matrix.

  • Responsible (R) – conducts the work and owns it.
  • Accountable (A) – approves the work and is accountable for it, will sign off the work prior to completion.
  • Consulted (C) – included in decision making, usually an SME.
  • Inform (I) – kept informed of progress and results.

This RACI Matrix below represents the key outputs of a project, and depicts who is involved and to what extent.

Top skills of Project Controls Manager & How to become one?

The route to becoming a project controls manager will usually start within the Project Controls function as a project controller, many PCMs will become a subject matter expert within one of the strands of Project Controls and then look to progress to a project control manager role. This means many PCMs will have both the hard skills required as a Project controller as well as the soft skills required for management.

Many of the soft skills are shared across the discipline such as:

  • Good Communication skills – a PCM needs to interact with multiple departments and stakeholders, making good communication skills critical to ensure that clear concise messaging is provided and that critical project information is readily available.
  • Decision making and analytical skills – Project controllers will turn to the PCM to resolve or escalate issues. The PCM needs to analyse complex data to be able to make informed critical decisions based on the data available.
  • Collaboration – The ability to work as a team is crucial to any project, collaborative teams will have higher engagement levels leading to higher success rates. The PCM needs to have the ability to bring various teams together to focus on the same goal.Seeing the bigger picture – The PCM needs to have an open-minded mindset when looking in the detail, to ensure that they can question constructively and make informed decisions based on the bigger picture or wider programme.

In the life of a Project control manager different asks and problems will be faced every day, resulting in transferable skills that  can be used across various clients and sectors. At MIGSO-PCUBED, we have established ourselves as experts in Project Controls, providing high quality delivery in a variety of exciting and interesting clients, as well as delivering PC specific training to further support  career development

This article was written by Nicky Donowski PMO Manager, Sharnice Atherton-Berry Project Controls Manager and Abdirisaq Essa Project Scheduler

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