The Cycle Within the Cycle
You have received your project update information, made a selection in how to adjust, and now you take the outputs from this process and start the planning cycle over. Have you caught on to the cycle within the cycle yet? When you are updating a project plan, you are actually performing functions in all three of the phases — planning, executing, and controlling. It is important to remember that the movement between phases is fluid. It is not as simple as start planning phase, stop planning phase; start executing phase, stop executing phase; etc. A discussion of all of the phases could occur in one conversation. For example:
PROJECT MANAGER: How is the work coming on the painting of the house?
CONTRACTOR: The walls came up late, and we did not get started on time.
PROJECT MANAGER: Is there any way that we can make up the time?
CONTRACTOR: I could bring on another one of my workers and we can split the work to complete it faster.
PROJECT MANAGER: Will that add to my cost?
CONTRACTOR: It shouldn't, since we will do the work in half the time with twice the resources, the cost should be the same.
PROJECT MANAGER: Sounds good, but if we start to see that we will not make up the time or that cost will be impacted, let me know.
In this example, the project manager moved throughout the phases:
Executing: Requesting the status of start and completion times.
Controlling: Assessing the impact of the status and making proper adjustments. Also, requesting feedback if things do not go as planned.
Planning: Placing the new resource into the plan, adjusting the time to half of the original duration, and assessing the cost impact.
You may not always know that you are progressing through the phases, and that is all right. With practice and an understanding of how the technical components of project management work, you will begin to see the results of the cycle within the cycle.