1. Process and Scope

Work on performance or competency based standards for a ‘Project Controls’ job family began in October 2011 at GAPPS Thought Leadership Forum No 23 hosted by the BG Group/QGC in Brisbane.  The starting point was a review of existing standards for Project Controls in various forms, initially drawing on the following resources:

  • ProVoc[1]/ ACostE Project Control Qualifications
  • National Occupational Standards for Project Control – UK NVQ 2004
  • Total Cost Management Framework – First Edition, 2006, AACE International
  • South African Qualification Authority standards for project controls
  • APM Introduction to Project Control
  • Competency Standards for Quantity Surveyors, Asia Pacific Region, 2001

It is noted that a number of these resources have since been updated.

Review and comparison of these documents provided a picture of coverage of roles in project controls and formed the basis for input and development over subsequent GAPPS Thought Leadership Forums. Globally representative and experienced project management and project controls professionals (see Appendix A) were asked to focus on what practitioners are required to do when providing project control services and oversight for projects.  At each of the sessions where project controls were addressed the work of previous groups was reviewed and progressed in an ongoing validation process. In 2017 a review of the document was undertaken by several experienced practitioners and their comments addressed during 2018 GAPPS Thought Leadership Forums.

Accepted practice in development of performance based competency standards[2]is to seek input from practitioners on what is considered to be minimum acceptable performance in a particular role. Therefore, the process should start with a definition of the role. This proved to be extremely difficult in the area of project controls where it was agreed that roles are both broad and deep. The roles extend from entry level project support roles to very senior Project Controls Director roles which may be at Board level. Project Controls are also provided by specialist consulting firms and include a wide range of specialist areas including cost, scheduling, risk, quality, estimation, quantity and document control.

Work to date has focused on developing an understanding of a core set of performance based competencies expected of a Project Controller or Project Controls Manager.   This was intended to provide a shared understanding of the ‘job family’ and a basis for further attempts at actually defining the roles.  Once the roles were defined, then it would be possible to return to development of the performance based standards for each role.

At GAPPS Thought Leadership Forum No 38 in London, the core set of performance based competencies were agreed in the draft form provided in this document.  Further work is required but it was considered an adequate basis for thinking about role definition.

A Project Controls Role Definition is provided in Section 1.2 and it is intended that this will be provided in a Wiki via the GAPPS website to enable ongoing development between GAPPS sessions.

[1]ProVoc is the UK National steering Committee raising the profile of Professional level National Vocational Qualifications (NVQs) for Project Management and Project Control staff in industry and commerce.


[2]Heywood, L., Gonczi, A., & Hager, P. (1992). A Guide to Development of Competency Standards for Professions. Canberra: Australian Government Publishing Service.

1.1 Role Context

The role of theproject controls managerin this context may be for single or multiple projects. The role of project controls manageris generally to support the project manager(s) to achieve project objectives by establishing the baseline plan, confirming the control basis, metrics and assumptions, identifying deviations and recommending corrective actions.

In some organizations theproject controls manageris a position with that title, while in others, it may be termed differently. This may be a position or an assignment. Whenever a single individual is clearly responsible for providing project controls support to the project manager, that individual can be considered to be a project controls manager for the purposes of this framework.

Incidental notes:

  • Activities referred to in the standard may be undertaken by the Project Controls Manager or by a member of their team or other specialist.
  • Every decision must support business value.
  • The project controls manager is the navigator.Project Manager is the pilot.
  • Project controls have a key role of providing reliable information in a timely manner to enable decision makers to make informed decisions.


1.2 Role Definitions for Project Controls

Level At this level you would typically be responsible for: Desirable attributes would include:
Strategic In line with the organisational risk appetite:

  • setting the overall governance and policy framework for controls including roles and responsibilities, reporting and operating structures, assurance processes, tools, compliance and continuous improvement;
  • monitoring performance of the overall project, program or portfolio to identify systemic and cumulative risk,
  •  intervening to maintain strategic alignment;
  • developing and sustaining organisational controls capability;
  • embodying desired values, behaviours and ethics.
  • an interdisciplinary understanding of the business context,
  • credibility that enables engagement with and influence of stakeholders,
  • intuitive insight into control functions
  • maintain confidentiality

Typical role titles:

Head of Project Controls

Controls Director



Tactical / Integrative

Within strategy, governance and policy framework

  • implementing policy, developing project specific procedures and making tactical level decisions
  • evaluating risks and dependencies within the project and applying appropriate control approaches
  • gathering and making sense of data, monitoring and reporting on performance
  • recommending decisions, approaches and response options
  • managing and developing control teams
  • resolving conflicts as required
  • an interdisciplinary understanding of the controls function
  • interpersonal, influencing, delegating and negotiation skills that enable coordination and timely elicitation of performance data
  • ability to understand the full extent of the project / program
  • an appreciation of systems architecture and tools
  • analytical ability
  • maintain confidentiality
  • Typical role titles:

Controls Manager

Project Controls Manager

Controls Executive Officer

Baseline Manager

Integrative Baseline Manager

Project Controller


Discipline specific In one or more of the control disciplines:

  • providing expertise including production, collection, collation, dissemination, synthesis, analysis and meaningful interpretation and administration of data and information
  • providing timely insights, advice and contributions in areas of discipline expertise
  • interfacing effectively with other project disciplines and functions


  • technical / sub discipline expertise
  • accuracy and proactive ability to obtain information and apply judgement
  • understanding of their role within the overall controls function
  • ability to identify and communicate pertinent information
  • maintain confidentiality


Typical role titles:

Planning / Cost Engineer


Quality Controller/ Quality Controls Manager


Risk Controller / Risk Manager

Cost Controller

Cost Schedule Analyst

Cost Account Manager

Figure 1. Descriptions of Role Differentiators