Fundamentals of Success
Executive Control Points
Every project should have "Executive Control Points".
These are really like "gates" between phases and major
stages of the project that represent major project "milestones".
At these gates, the project manager presents certain predetermined
"deliverables" to the project sponsor, top management
or "Executive", whoever has the authority to approve further
For top management, these points provide the opportunity to exercise
a high level of control over the shape and timing of the project.
Top management can ensure that either the project is developing
in a manner consistent with their objectives, or the project can
be modified with minimum upset if the objectives have changed. It
is also the opportunity for the Executive to inject enthusiasm,
excitement and discipline into the project team's work.
Changes and related delays may cost ten or more times as much to
implement during construction, compared to the same changes made
during the planning stage. Therefore, at the beginning of the project,
Executive Control Points should be established at the conclusion
of each phase, on a "go" or "no-go" basis for
further work as shown by the flags in Figure
Figure 7: Executive Control points, or "phase gates"
in a construction life cycle
These control points therefore provide the project manager with
his mandate to drive the project through to the conclusion of the
ensuing stage. It is the project manager's opportunity to ensure
that top management is behind him and that he is proceeding in the
The most important control point in the project life cycle is reached
at the conclusion of the "development" stage (see Figure
3). The end of this stage marks the transition of the project
from feasibility to implementation. At this point, a project "go"
decision must be based on sound and well documented information.
This information should be presented in a comprehensive document
referred to as the Project Brief. The Project Brief, when approved,
becomes the prime source of reference for the implementation phase.
The Project Brief is the means whereby the owners know precisely
what they are getting. A good Project Brief should include:
- Executive summary;
- General statement of business aims and objectives;
- Technical approach;
- Statement of project scope;
- Regulatory approvals and requirements;
- Preliminary design sketches, block diagrams, standards;
- Project team organization;
- Implementation schedule;
- Procurement plan;
- Project estimate and proposed appropriation budget;
- Other resources required from the sponsoring organization (e.g.,
land, space, staff, etc.);
- Financial statement and economic projections;
- Cash flow projection;
- Justification, alternatives; and
- Areas of uncertainty and risk.