Free Essay About Program Management And The Planning-Monitoring-Controlling Cycle
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Effective program management depends on how well the program manager and his or her team plan, control and monitor all aspects of the endeavor. Although each of the three functions is unique, they are interdependent. Meredith and Mantel opine that for any program to succeed, planning, constant monitoring of progress and comparison of progress with objectives is necessary (437). Time, cost and performance are the most crucial aspects that need to be planned, controlled and monitored.
Wysocki describes a program as a collection of projects that are related (9). Every program has a specific sequence for completion of pertinent projects, after which the program is declared complete. A program, therefore, has a wider scope than a project and has multiple goals. Organization that have ongoing programs set up offices where all projects are coordinated. An example of a program is a construction initiative to build in industrial park which has several projects within it (Wysocki 10). However, programs are managed in largely the same manner as projects since there can be no program without projects. Further, a management tool that can encompass all projects is highly desirable if the goals of a program are to be achieved.
The planning-monitoring-control cycle
Meredith and Mantel propose a proactive approach for program and project management in which much of the project work is done at the initial stages, instead of dealing with negative impacts when the project is in progress (438). It is called the planning-monitoring-control cycle. Although this approach does not guarantee that the project will be problem-free, it reduces the amount of risks involved in terms of the quality of the outcome and financial implications.
The first component of this cycle is planning (which encompasses budgeting and scheduling). Meredith and Mantel observe that many organizations ignore planning or fail to plan sufficiently and end up disappointed (437). Erroneous and misguided beliefs contribute greatly to this scenario. For example, there is a tendency to consider planning as time-wasting. In other cases, managers assume that their experiences in planning previous programs suffice for current initiatives. In essence, practical and elaborate planning is mandatory for a program’s success.
The second component of the cycle is control. Larson and Gray assert that, control is the procedure of matching actual achievement with program goals to establish whether there are deviations; evaluate possible optional actions and institute necessary remedial action (454). Essentially, it is through controlling that the program team can identify gaps and seal them, both as a strategy for success and also to avoid future failure. For Meredith and Mantel the control process is best understood as a close-loop system which incorporates revised plans and schedules (438).
Between planning and controlling is monitoring. It deals with costs, time and performance (Meredith and Mantel 439). In addition, and within the boundaries set by these criteria, milestones, review points, labor hours, extent of customer satisfaction, output changes and related issues should also be factored into the monitoring process. One of key roles of monitoring is to identify any undesirable variances from the original plan at the earliest opportunity and to decide whether to take remedial action (Larson and Gray 455).
Two of the best places to identify what to monitor are project action and risk management plans (Meredith and Mantel 439). Action plans capture ongoing activities, timelines and the utilization of resources according to specific tasks. When the risks encompassed by the risk management plan are monitored, the program team is updated on emerging risks thus averting panic during emergencies. In essence, monitoring is the vital link between planning and controlling. Monitoring gathers information on planning aspects and transmits the same material to program team managers for necessary control measures to be taken.
Program management success through the cycle
It is imperative to realize that the planning-monitoring-controlling cycle lasts for the duration of the program. It is an indispensible aspect of the program’s organizational structure and it not imposed or in conflict with the program or its projects. Further, it is preferable, although not obligatory, that this cycle becomes part of the organizational culture of the firm implementing projects. Program success and the well-being of the parent firm are intertwined and a near-flawless monitoring or controlling system is the best strategy for effective program management (Meredith and Mantel 440).
The planning-monitoring-controlling cycle contains knowledge and strategies that can transform the way programs are managed. Program managers must plan every project carefully before implementing it. They also need to monitor all activities regularly to ensure they identify any gaps that have emerged or those that were not incorporated in planning. Finally, by measuring progress and comparing it with the goals of the program and individual projects, it becomes easy to identify gaps and to take remedial action. However, it is important to realize that the three components of the cycle are interdependent. In essence the planning-monitoring-controlling cycle is essential for program management success.
Larson, W. Eric., and Clifford, F. Gray. Project Management: The Managerial Process. 7th ed.
New York: McGraw-Hill /Irwin, 2011. Print.
Meredith, Jack, R., and Samuel, J. Mantel, Jr. Project Management: A Managerial Approach.
Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2009. Print.
Wysocki, Robert, K. Effective Project Management: Traditional, Agile, Extreme. 5th ed.
Indianapolis, IN: Wiley Publishing, Inc., 2009. Print.
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