Ways to explain Project Controls

Over the years when I've joined new teams or started working with different people I've had various conversations on where Project Controls fits in a project. I thought I'd share some of the odd analogies that have come up.

Project Controls is like a Police force


Project Controls are the police of the project. When the project and Project Managers are in trouble and need help Project Controls is there to help get it/them out of trouble and assist the project when bad things happen.


Additionally, if the delivery team is intentionally looking to do something out of governance then Project Controls is there to (figuratively) slap the PM on the wrist and say "no, you can't and should not do that".


The Project is a car, The PM is the owner, and Project Controls is the chauffeur


If the project is a car and the Project Manager (PM) owns the car but the Project Controls Manager (PCM) is the chauffeur then the car goes nowhere without both being in alignment. The PM as the owner provides the destination and deadlines while the PCM as subject matter expert navigates the fastest, safest and most economical route.


The car doesn't move without the PMs instruction and the car can't move easily wihtout the PCM who holds the keys.


If a project was a golf game, Project Controls is the Caddie


In golf, a caddie is the person who carries a player's bag and clubs, and gives insightful advice and moral support. Not too dissimilar to the role Project Controls plays on projects in supplying analysis, advice and being a sounding board for decisions.


Who then is the "player"? Well the Project Manager of course and like golf the biggest opponent is often him/herself.


If the Project was a rally car, the PM is the Driver and the PCM is the Co-driver


The PM as driver is in full control of the steering wheel, accelerator and brakes but without the PCM navigating and assisting the PM on turns and bends it becomes increasingly difficult and unsafe.


The PCM needs to know the map and terrain extremely well and the relationship and communication with the PM has to be in total alignment to be able to go at maximum speed.


Project Controls is the conscience of a project


Your own conscience judges how moral your actions are and makes you feel guilty when you do bad things. It's the thing that guides us as individuals to do the right thing. Project Controls in many ways is best placed for this role on projects. Whether or not you listen to your conscience is a different debate!


Project Controls is a Critical Friend


"A critical friend can be defined as a trusted person who asks provocative questions, provides data to be examined through another lens, and offers critiques of a person’s work as a friend. A critical friend takes the time to fully understand the context of the work presented and the outcomes that the person or group is working toward. The friend is an advocate for the success of that work." (Source link) I'm afraid I can't add anything to this as it's pretty self-explanatory!


Let me know of any analogies you've heard and keep it clean!

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