Contruent Blog

The Difference Between Project Management & Project Controls

What is the difference between project controls and project management?

Project controls and project management are not the same thing, in fact, project controls is a function of project management. Let’s define and discuss these two project elements.

Project Management: What Is It?

Project management is the application of processes, methods, skills, knowledge and experiences to achieve specific objectives within agreed upon parameters in which there is a defined deliverable project. Projects have finite time spans and every single one is different.

Processes of Project Management fall within five categories:

  1. Initiating
  2. Planning
  3. Executing
  4. Monitoring & Controlling
  5. Closing/Completing

According the the Project Management Institute (PMI)’s A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide), project management knowledge draws on ten areas, two of which (cost and time) fit within project controls:

  1. Integration
  2. Scope
  3. Time
  4. Cost
  5. Quality
  6. Procurement
  7. Human resources
  8. Communications
  9. Risk management
  10. Stakeholder management

Project Controls: What Is It?

Project controls are processes, tools, and professional’s skills used on projects to analyze a project’s cost and schedule data to help keep the project on budget and on time. Project control managers report their findings regarding project cost and schedule progress and performance to project managers.

Project controls are charged with answering (and controlling areas around) two key project questions throughout the project’s lifecycle:

  1. Cost: How much is the project costing and will it be completed on budget?
  2. Schedule: How long will the project take to complete, where does the project fall in accordance to the proposed schedule, and will the project be completed on time?

Of course, project controls professionals are also in charge of answers related whether or not the project is on budget or not or on schedule or not as well.

While it may seem that project controls falls within the fourth process of project management at a first glance –monitoring and controlling–, but project controls needs to be involved in all aspects of project management to be the most effective and successful. Project controls focuses on controlling the project costs and schedule, and those are estimated and determined at the initiation phase of a project, and all phases of the project deal with its costs and timing.

Throughout the lifecycle of the project, project controls professionals oversee and control the costs and schedules. They report and advise the project management team of any budget or schedule deviations to the project.

Learn more about project management and project controls by checking out our Guide to Project Management Maturity and our Guide to Project Controls.