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Monitoring and Controlling Process Group

To start off the fourth of what are becoming 5 increasingly difficult posts to write, I wanted to document my new-found understanding of the difference between Monitoring and Executing. Last week, when I was working on the Executing process group, I noticed that Quality Control was listed under Executing. Right next to it on the chart was Quality Assurance, listed under the M&C group. Since I was a very inexperienced novice when I worked in Quality and Data Management, and was working with amorphous deliverables like home visits, and documentation quality, I had always used these two concepts interchangeably. So, if they’re interchangeable, why would one be in Executing and one be in M&C (BTW, M&C will be my shorthand here, and in most posts for this Process Group, because Monitoring and Controlling is freaking long).

Stumped, I posted the question to a couple of PM groups on LinkedIn. 35 similar responses later, I know have a very good understanding of what QA is, and how it differs from QC (see note 1). QA is the little slip paper in your jeans pocket when you buy a new pair (you know, the ‘this article was inspected by #47 slip), while QC is the reviewing the process to make sure that the jeans manufacturing team is adhering to the controls of the project to keep the deliverable under cost for the client. QA is running spell check before the thesis paper goes to the printer. QC is handing the thesis paper to your advisor to make sure the line of argument is cogent throughout and addresses what you actually researched.

That’s what we’re looking at here. M&C concerns itself not directly with the product itself, but the process of obtaining that executed outcome. A PM friend of mine talks about widgets to highlight the unit-ness of things, even if they don’t seem like units (test cases, for examples). In this case, were she to describe M&C, she would say it’s role is to monitor and control the project-as-widget. In the end, a PM leads a production team. Their team is producing a finished product: the project-as-widget. M&C is making sure the project-as-widget is meeting the requirements specified in the Planning process group.

Is the project team meeting it’s performance goals, based on the baselines and performance metrics set in Planning (Mulcahey, PMP Exam Prep, 6th Edition, 43)? If it isn’t, why? If those whys are critical, do you need to change something in the project? Right, aren’t you glad you created that change control process back in Planning? Because now you get to use it. And, when you were in Planning, your change control process should have basically been a) request changes, b) perform integrated change control, c) approve changes, d) notify stakeholders of changes (directly drawn from Mulcahy, though she lists these as steps in M&C, when they are really spelled out in the change control plan, but why split hairs?).

During this phase, you also perform QC and risk audits. What are risk audits? Potentially another question for the LinkedIn masses…

Note 1: If you also followed the LinkedIn conversation on the Project Manager Community site, you would notice that about 50% of people swapped QA and QC. Everyone agreed on the concept that one controls the actual product and the other controls the process. Since Mulcahey uses QA in Executing and QC in M&C, I went with that here. Since Executing is always listed before M&C, a helpful mnemonic would be that QA has ‘a’ which is before the ‘c’ in QC, right?

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