Using project controlling correctly in project management

Project controlling is an important tool in project management. Expertly and properly executed, it ensures that the project goes according to plan.
A magnifying glass is lying on a sheet of paper with blue bar charts displayed on it.
Projects - whether small and simple or large and complex - are not self-running. They must be competently planned, professionally organised and skilfully implemented. In order to ensure that each project phase reaches its goal, project management relies on regular project controlling.

Project Controlling - Reasons and Goals

A project manager is obliged to ensure that the project runs smoothly.
In detail, this means that
  • tasks are properly fulfilled,
  • available resources are efficiently used,
  • specified goals are achieved on time.

The project manager has an extensive control function for this purpose. Project controlling is available as a tool for fulfilling this function.

The difference between project controlling and project reporting

Project controlling should not be mixed up with project reporting.
In contrast to project controlling, which involves monitoring the entire project, project reporting refers only to the creation of progress reports.
Thus, project reporting is only a small part of the controlling process, not its replacement.

The Advantages of Project Controlling in Project Management

With professional project controlling many advantages go along.
Above all, these are to be mentioned:

Achieving the project goals

The quality of the tasks performed, and the progress of the work can be checked by regular monitoring. If the control measures reveal that the delivered work does not meet the desired quality or the project phases are not completed on time, the management can intervene and take countermeasures.
For example, errors can be corrected at an early stage, the number of staff can be increased or the organisational structures within the project can be adjusted.
The achievement of the project goals can thus be ensured.

Efficient use of resources

Through systematic, strategic project controlling, the project manager can ensure optimal distribution of resources among the teams and the team members.
If the resources are properly distributed, the project staff can focus on their work, meet schedules and thus ensure project progress.

Increased employee motivation

A mature and functioning control system supports the teams in their daily work by informing each employee in advance about their current tasks and the next project goals.
If the people involved know about their personal contribution to the project and are aware of its importance, their motivation to achieve the highest performance together with the team increases.

Improved discipline

With project controlling, the work in the teams can be optimally organised by checking the activities of each individual employee. If a team member does not fulfil his or her tasks in accordance with the contract - whether accidentally or intentionally -, this can be detected at an early stage. This helps to minimise conflicts between team members.
This is accompanied by increased discipline and an efficient project flow.

Simplified coordination

A well-established, stable project controlling system simplifies the organisation and coordination of the individual project steps.
In this way, management can perform its tasks more easily, efficiently and accurately.

Implementing modern project management with the help of project controlling software

Project controlling is an extensive task that requires a sober look for details. A large number of project controlling methods offer different control approaches. In medium and difficult to manage projects – rather in large and complex projects - the necessary controlling can quickly overwhelm the project manager.
Therefore, it is advisable to decide at an early stage on a suitable project controlling software for such projects.
The advantages of the software - as part of a project management software - are numerous.

The most important of these are:

Standardised processes

By using the appropriate project controlling tools, larger amounts of data can be clearly arranged. Individual workflows are standardised. This saves time and simplifies access to all necessary documents, overviews and status reports.
The standardised work processes support team collaboration and thus increase productivity.

Integrated systems

Dates, progress data, invoices and similar data often come from different internal company systems. The manual comparison of information takes a lot of time and is prone to errors. The right software for project controlling coordinates the collected data and presents it in a clear and concise format.
This makes the controlling process more precise, accurate and efficient.

Simple performance assessment

With agile project controlling, the project team can always be kept up to date on the tasks performed. Tasks that require immediate attention can be tracked in real time. The management knows always exactly what the status of the project is and where corrective action might be required.
The clear and easy-to-understand performance reports not only help the project manager to complete the project on time and on budget. They can also be used to inform the client about the progress of the project and thus integrate them into agile project management.

Well thought-out change management

No project is proceeding strictly according to plan. Changes, adjustments or corrections are unavoidable in an ongoing project. Strategic project controlling therefore also includes the administration and impact analysis of the changes made. With the appropriate project controlling examples, the software supports management in evaluating possible corrective actions.
This enables the project manager to make well-considered and well-reasoned decisions that most effectively achieve the project goal.

Built-in cost control

It is therefore of utmost importance for every project manager to keep the project within the given budget. With the modern project controlling tools, the entire project management can be combined with the corresponding cost estimation.
With the upcoming costs clearly in mind, the management can take cost-efficient ways to lead the project safely to success.


Modern project management requires advanced project controlling methods. The precisely fitting software for project controlling offers management measurable added value in fulfilling its control function.
Author: Thomas Schlereth, Can Do GmbH

Keywords: management, project management, project controlling, project goals

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