Project monitoring (or tracking) refers to the activities and tasks managers engage in to periodically check the status of each project. Reports are prepared that compare the actual work done to the work that was planned.
Monitoring requires a set of tools, forms, techniques, and measures. A precondition for monitoring a project is the existence of a project plan.
Project controlling consists of developing and applying a set of corrective actions to get a project on track when monitoring shows a deviation from what was planned.
If monitoring results show deviations from the plan have occurred, controlling mechanisms must be put into place to direct the project back on its proper track. Controlling a project is an important activity which is done to ensure that the project goals will be achieved occurring to the plan. Many managerial experts group the two activities into one called ―controlling‖.
Thayer partitions what he calls ―project controlling ‖ into six major tasks. The following is a modified description of the tasks suggested by Thayer. The description has been augmented by the author to include supplemental tasks that provide additional support for the controlling and monitoring functions.
1. Develop standards of performance. These set the stage for defining goals that will be achieved when project tasks are correctly accomplished.
2. Plan each project. The plan must contain measurable goals, milestones, deliverables, and well-defined budgets and schedules that take into consideration project types, conditions, and constraints.
3. Establish a monitoring and reporting system. In the monitoring and reporting system description the organization must describe the measures to be used, how/when they will be collected, what questions they will answer, who will receive the measurement reports, and how these will be used to control the project. Each project plan must describe the monitoring and reporting mechanisms that will be applied to it. If status meetings are required, then their frequency, attendees, and resulting documents must be described.
4. Measure and analyze results. Measurements for monitoring and controlling must be collected, organized, and analyzed. They are then used to compare the actual achievements with standards, goals, and plans.
5. Initiate corrective actions for projects that are off track. These actions may require changes in the project requirements and the project plan.
6. Reward and discipline. Reward those staff who have shown themselves to be good performers, and discipline, retrain, relocate those that have consistently performed poorly.
7. Document the monitoring and controlling mechanisms. All the methods, forms, measures, and tools that are used in the monitoring and controlling process must be documented in organization
standards and be described in policy statements.
8. Utilize a configuration management system. A configuration management system is needed to manage versions, releases, and revisions of documents, code, plans, and reports.
It was Thayer‘s intent that these activities and actions be applied to monitor and control software development projects. However, these activities/ actions can be applied to monitor and control testing efforts as well.