The course for the PMP certification is designed as a series of 5 performance domains. The first three are project initiation, planning and execution. They are followed by the fourth domain called “monitoring and controlling the project.” It is divided into 6 tasks which, together, make up 25% of the subject matter in the exam question paper. This is a considerable percentage; hence it is important for any candidate preparing for PMP to be well-versed in the topics related to project monitoring and control.
Task 1 – Project Performance Measurement:
There are various techniques to measure how the project is performing. PERT (Program Evaluation and Review Technique) is a statistical representation and analysis tool for the tasks in the work breakdown structure of the project. PERT is often used along with the CPM (Critical Path Method) technique, which calculates the planned completion time of each path along the PERT diagram and then using the longest path, helps to determine the start and end time limits of each task so that the project will complete on schedule. EV (Earned Value) is another common project performance measurement technique; it follows the trends in scope, schedule and cost and analyzes them against the baseline project plan to forecast deviations.
All these techniques are aided by versatile and robust tools that easily identify and quantify a variance in any parameter or metric. The project manager must be able to apply appropriate measures to correct these parameters and get them back on track. All findings and proposed solutions must be communicated with the relevant stakeholders.
Task 2 – Project Plan Change Management:
During the course of the project, customers, sponsors and even stakeholders may wish to include new features in the project and will raise change requests accordingly. These requests could also be triggered by the introduction of new technology or a change in regulations. The project plan is a documentation of the scope, schedule, costs and other important factors of a project. A change to one or more of these factors must be tracked by corresponding changes in all areas of the project plan where they are mentioned.
The manager has to seek approval for making these changes from the customer and stakeholders and then communicate them to all the team members, so that they can work towards achieving the revised project goals. The PMP candidate must also be aware of the established project plan management techniques, change management techniques and integrated change control processes.
Task 3 – Conformance of Project Deliverables to Quality Management Plan:
The project needs to meet certain pre-defined quality metrics and conform to quality standards; these are documented in the quality management plan. It is the responsibility of the project manager to ensure that all project deliverables adhere to these standards and completely satisfy all requirements specified by the customer. The most important project performance metrics are efforts spent, costs involved and milestones. Testing, inspection and control charts are some of the ways to ensure their quality conformance.
Task 4 – Updating of Risk Register:
Risk management is fundamental to the good health of the project. Even the most well-planned project with the best team has risks associated with it. Every project must maintain a risk register to document risks along with their severity. The project manager must assess old risks and see if they have been eliminated or reduced in severity, while new risks have to be added into the risk register as soon as they are identified. All open risks need to be resolved by implementing risk response strategies; the project manager has to choose from transference, mitigation, insurance and acceptance. These are documented in the risk response plan.
With successful handling of risks, they have a negligible impact on the project throughout all phases. The risk register also serves to bring all risks associated with the project to the attention of senior management, in preparation for any major issue that may occur. The knowledge that candidates require to pass this section of the exam also includes common risk identification and analysis techniques.
Task 5 – Resolving Issues in the Issue Register:
Issues differ from risks; rather, issues are the specific occurrences of risks. They need to be tracked in the issue register and resolved at the earliest. The project manager is expected to apply corrective actions to all open issues. There may be some issues that remain unresolved; for them to have minimal to no impact on the planned schedule, resources and costs of the project, the further course of action has to be determined using appropriate techniques and tools. Root Cause Analysis (RCA) is one of the most efficient problem solving techniques and candidates must be well-versed in the theory and implementation of RCA.
Task 6 – Stakeholder Communication:
Stakeholders have a vested interest in the project, and they expect to be kept in the communication loop to get regular updates about its progress. This is also beneficial to the manager because it will ensure that the project work being done by the team remains in line with the business needs and maps to customer requirements. Any deviations will soon be highlighted and can be remedied at the earliest, to avoid rework and stay on track to meet the planned timeline and budget for delivery. The candidate preparing for this PMP performance domain must develop a stronghold over reporting procedures.
Monitoring and control is essential throughout the lifecycle of the project; it is the “Check” element in the critical PDCA (Plan-Do-Check-Act) cycle. All parameters and metrics have to be measured against customer requirements, quality standards and industry benchmarks. Corrective measures need to be taken for any variance identified, so that the project delivery is not negatively affected. The project manager also has to stay on top of risks and issues and use appropriate techniques to minimize their impact on the project. The project plan, quality management plan, risk register, issue register have to be kept up-to-date. These documents help the project manager to monitor and control the project effectively; they are also used in communicating with the key stakeholders and giving them progress reports.