2. Project Controls: Units, Elements, and Performance Criteria

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2.1 Overview of Performance Based Competence Standards

This section provides a brief overview of the subject of performance based competency standards (PBCS) for potential users of this document who are not familiar with the topic.

Competentcomes from the Latin root competerewhich means “to be suitable.” In today’s workplace, the term “competent” is generally used to describe someone who is sufficiently skilled to perform a specified task or to fill a defined position — a competent physician, a competent salesperson, a competent plumber. Increasingly, organisations are interested in assessing the competency of individuals in order to guide employment and development decisions.

Broadly speaking, there are two major approaches to defining and assessing competency:

  • Attribute basedwherein personal attributes such as knowledge, skills, values, attitudes, and other characteristics are identified and assessed. Competency is inferred based on the presence of the necessary attributes.
  • Performance basedwherein work outcomes and performance levels are identified and assessed. Competency is inferred based on the demonstrated ability to satisfy the performance criteria.

PBCS, also called occupational competency standards, are widely used throughout the world and have been developed within the context of government endorsed standards and qualifications frameworks in Australia (Department of Employment, Education and Workplace Relations: DEEWR), New Zealand (New Zealand Qualifications Authority: NZQA), South Africa (South African Qualifications Authority: SAQA), and the United Kingdom (Qualifications and Curriculum Development Agency: QCDA). Although all of these approaches are focused primarily on performance basedcompetency assessment, some approaches do include aspects of attribute basedcompetency assessment.

 

2.2 Design of the GAPPS Framework

PBCS typically address at least the following two questions:

  • What is usuallydone in this occupation, profession, or role by competent performers?
  • What standard of performance is usuallyconsidered acceptable to infer competency?

In the GAPPS standards, these questions are answered by defining:

  • Units of Competency

A Unit of Competency defines a broad area of professional or occupational performance that is meaningful to practitioners and which is demonstrated by individuals in the workplace. This GAPPS framework includes 6 Units of Competency.

  • Elements of Competency

Elements of Competency describe the key components of work performance within a Unit. They describe whatis done by individuals in the workplace but do not prescribe howthe work is done. For example, project sponsors must “cultivate stakeholder commitment,” but they can do this using approaches and tools of their own choice. This GAPPS framework includes a total of 24 Elements of Competency.

  • Performance Criteria

Performance Criteria set out the type and/or level of performance required to demonstrate competency in each element. They describe observable results and/or actions in the workplace from which competent performance can be inferred. In the GAPPS framework, Performance Criteria can be satisfied in many different ways; there are no mandatory approaches, tools, or methodologies. This GAPPS framework includes a total of 79 Performance Criteria.

  • Explanatory Statements

Explanatory Statements help to ensure consistent interpretation of the Elements and the Performance Criteria by expanding on critical or significant aspects of them to enable consistent application in different contexts. They also may include a description of a range that may apply to the context of the experience. Where the Explanatory Statements contain lists, the lists are generally illustrative and not exhaustive.

Although some of the terms and definitions of the GAPPS framework described above differ in some respects from other PBCS, the overall approach is consistent and compatible with generally accepted practice within the field of competency development and assessment.

The Performance Criteria in this document focus on thresholdperformance — demonstration of the ability to do something at a standard considered acceptable in the workplace. They do not measure superiorperformance — what the best project controllers do. Superior performers should be able to satisfy the threshold criteria without difficulty.

The GAPPS standards include the minimum number of Performance Criteria needed to infer competency. As a result, a candidate must satisfy all of the Performance Criteria in the applicable Units in order to be viewed as competent. In addition, the Performance Criteria represent different levels of effort. The number of Performance Criteria in a Unit or Element is not proportional to the amount of time or effort that an individual must spend in that area to be viewed as competent.

The material in this document can also be used to support learning and development when applied by qualified educators and trainers. In order to provide such support, the GAPPS Framework would need to be expanded to address questions such as:

  • What skills and knowledge are needed to demonstrate this standard of performance?
  • What are the parameters for collecting evidence and assessing performance?

 

2.3 Details of Units, Elements, and Performance Criteria

The following pages detail the Units, Elements, and Performance Criteria of this framework. They are presented using the format illustrated below in Figure 2.

PC0X                Unit Title
Unit Descriptor       A Unit of Competency defines a broad area of professional or occupational performance that is meaningful to practitioners and which is demonstrated by individuals in the workplace.

This GAPPS framework includes six Units of Competency.

PC0X     List of Elements
X.1    Elements of Competency describe the key components of work performance within a Unit.

X.2    They describe what is done by individuals in the workplace but do not prescribe how the work is done.

X.3    This GAPPS framework includes a total of 24 Elements of Competency.

PC0X     Element Y
X.Y    Element description is repeated here.
Performance Criteria Explanatory Statements
X.Y.1 Performance criteria set out the type and/or level of performance required to demonstrate competency in each element.

X.Y.2 Performance criteriadescribe observable results and/or actions in the workplace from which competent performance can be inferred.

X.Y.3 Performance criteria are written using the passive voice to facilitate evaluation of evidence during assessment.

X.Y.4 This GAPPS framework includes 79 Performance Criteria.

a.   Explanatory statements are provided for key words and phrases in the element descriptions or the performance criteria.

b.   Explanatory statements may provide clarification and a general guide for the scope and context in which an individual is expected to perform by describing a range of situations or conditions that may apply

c.   The explanatory statements provide guidance for both Assessors and for the individuals being assessed.

c.   Explanatory statements are provided the first time each term is used in a unit. Although additional explanations may be included if required to clarify the context of a criteria

Figure 2. Illustration of presentation format for Units, Elements, and Performance Criteria

 

2.4 Summary of Unit Titles and their Elements

Units Elements
PC01.  Appreciate the context for project control 1.1 Understand project control requirements
1.2 Work within governance framework
PC02. Develop control processes 2.1 Establish monitoring processes
2.2 Develop coding structures
2.3 Utilize information management systems
2.4 Apply measurement approaches
PC03. Support development of integrated baseline 3.1 Facilitate refinement ofproject deliverables and requirements
3.2 Define executable packages of work
3.3 Establish the baseline
3.4 Communicate with other functions
3.5 Support validation of the baseline
PC04. Implement control framework 4.1 Apply project control processes
4.2 Ensure information quality
4.3 Analyse comparative data
4.4 Implement agreed reporting structures
4.5 Recommend corrective action
4.6 Support implementation of corrective actions
PC05. Exercise professional and social responsibility 5.1Observe and apply professional ethics and values
5.2 Maintain effective working relationships
5.3 Ensure continued personal and professional performance
PC06. Manage the control team

(optional for Project Controller)

6.1 Allocate work to the team
6.2 Agree objectives with team and individuals
6.3 Develop the skills of team members
6.4 Build an environment of confidence and trust within the control team

Figure 3. Summary of Unit Titles and Elements

2.5 Details of Units, Elements, and Performance Criteria

The following pages detail the Units, Elements, and Performance Criteria of this framework.

PC01                       Appreciate the context for project control
Unit Descriptor This Unit defines the Elements required to demonstrate an understanding and appreciation of the requirements for project controls.

It includes the Performance Criteria required to demonstrate competency in how the project controls work, within an organisation/project and within a governance framework.     

PC01         List of Elements
1.1    Understand project control requirements

1.2    Work within governance framework.

PC01         Element 1
1.1    Understand project control requirements
Performance Criteria Explanatory Statements
1.1.1  Project and project control objectives are understood.

1.1.2  Established budget for projectcontrol function is confirmed

1.1.3  Understanding of project control organization structure is demonstrated.

1.1.4  Limits of personal expertise are acknowledged.

1.1.5  Roles and responsibilities are confirmed.

1.1.6  Operating processes and procedures are identified.

1.1.7  Control requirements of relevant stakeholders are understood.

Appreciate should be interpreted and applied relative to the context within which the person is operating.

Budget may be in terms of time, cost and/or resources.  Note that this is the budget for the control function for the project.  The budget may be provided or may be negotiated by the Project Controls Manager.

Project control organization structures will vary according to project type, size and complexity. Controls include a wide range of specializations.

Acknowledgement ofpersonal expertise is an important element in determining additional controls assistance and expertise that may be required.

Roles and responsibilities will include reporting relationships and authority levels.

Confirmed may include negotiation to deal with variations in expertise.

Operating processes and procedures are those relevant to the project and the controls function.  They may be those of the parent organization, joint venture or alliance partners, contractors and any other relevant parties.

Control requirementsmay include interpretation and treatment of baselines and change requests.

Stakeholders include individuals and organisations whose interests may be affected by the project, or whose actions may have an effect on some aspect of the project. Stakeholders may include project proponents, sponsors, clients, customers, contractors, collaborators, contributors, champions, constituent project managers, project team members, project support staff, subcontractors, suppliers, media representatives, and the general public. Stakeholders may be internal to or external from the sponsoring organisation.

The relevance of a stakeholder may be affected by the impact on the stakeholder, or by the stakeholder’s impact on the project, and by cultural or ethical considerations. Different stakeholders are relevant in different situations. Relevant stakeholders will include contractors and the control requirement including process and submissions required from them.

PC01         Element 2
1.2    Work within governance framework
Performance Criteria Explanatory Statements
1.2.1   Alignment of reporting structures with organisational and project strategy is maintained.

1.2.2   Informationrequired to control the project is defined, agreed and reviewed

1.2.3  Prescribed Signing and approval authorities are fully understood and applied. Approval processes and authorities are confirmed and applied.

Governance framework refers to the corporate and project governance frameworks within which the project will be conducted.

Control requirementsinclude approval, monitoring and reporting processes and may include or be affected by level of project complexity, form of contract, commercial and regulatory requirements etc.  They may include tolerances, measures etc.

Breadth and depth ofinformationgathered should be limited to the minimum required to satisfy stakeholder control requirements.  Information requirements should bereviewed at key stages of the project life cycle to ensure they remain fit for purpose

 

PC02                       Develop control processes
Unit Descriptor       This Unit defines the Elements required to develop project control processes.

It includes the Performance Criteria required to demonstrate competency in how to establish monitoring processes, develop coding structures, utilize information management systems and apply measurement approaches.     

PC02         List of Elements
2.1    Establish monitoring processes

2.2    Develop coding structures

2.3    Utilize information management systems

2.4    Apply measurement approaches

PC02         Element 1
2.1    Establish monitoring processes
Performance Criteria Explanatory Statements
2.1.1  Criteria for acceptable performanceare established and agreed.

2.1.2  Report content, formats and frequencies are determined.

2.1.3  Sources of data are identified.

2.1.4  Responsibilities for information provision, monitoring and controlare defined and accepted.

Criteria for acceptable performance may include tolerances e.g. 5% above or below budget or schedule; triggers for unacceptable performance, escalation, key performance indicators (KPI) and the like.

Sources of datashould be transparent and traceable.  They may include any of the parties involved in the project such as project team / functions principal sub-contractors and supply chain, customer, and any data systems used by these parties.

Regular and other meetings required for information provision, monitoring and control such as board meetings should be scheduled and included in the communication plan in order to coordinate and facilitate the flow of information.  The Project Manager should include this in the communication plan.

PC02         Element 2
2.2    Develop coding structures
Performance Criteria Explanatory Statements
2.2.1  Coding structuresare selected to facilitate measurement and reporting requirements.

2.2.2  Compatibility with organizational accounting and data reporting requirementsis maintained.

Coding structures are a means of integrating elements of project control, reporting and accounting particularly for use with information management systems. They may be provided or required by the client, based on organizational processes, industry or ISO standards, determined by the information management system to be used, or developed specifically for the project.  They may be a combination of the above.
PC02         Element3
2.3    Utilize information management systems
Performance Criteria Explanatory Statements
2.3.1  Information management systems are selected or adapted to suit the specific requirements of the project.

2.3.2  A data repository is established.

2.3.3  Agreed data integrity and security principles are applied.

 Information management systemsshould be used effectively for sharing of information and integrated reporting.

 

PC02         Element 4
2.4    Apply measurement approaches
Performance Criteria Explanatory Statements
2.4.1  Performance measures to be used are determined and agreed byrelevant stakeholders.

2.4.2  Compliance withapplicable industry standards is ensured.

2.4.3  Measurement criteria are established.

 

Performance measures will be appropriate to the size and complexity of the project and may include staff turnover, rates of production, number of rejects, number of change requests, rate of work performance or output compared to expectations, safety performance, labour productivity. Earned Value measures of SPI and CPI are examples of performance measures.

Stakeholdersinclude individuals and organisations whose interests may be affected by the project, or whose actions may have an effect on some aspect of the project. Stakeholders may include project proponents, sponsors, clients, customers, contractors, collaborators, contributors, champions, constituent project managers, project team members, project support staff, subcontractors, suppliers, media representatives, and the general public. Stakeholders may be internal to or external from the sponsoring organisation.

The relevanceof a stakeholder may be affected by the impact on the stakeholder, or by the stakeholder’s impact on the project, and by cultural or ethical considerations. Different stakeholders are relevant in different situations.

Applicable industry standards include local and national regulations.  The same information may need to be provided in different ways to satisfy different requirements.

Measurement criteria would be developed as a basis for monitoring. They would be specific to each project. They may include quality, efficiency, stakeholder expectations and acceptance criteria. This may be an iterative process to ensure satisfaction of all relevant parties

 

PC03                       Support development of integrated baseline
Unit Descriptor       This Unit defines the Elements required to support the development of an integrated baseline for a project.

It includes the Performance Criteria required to demonstrate competency in defining packages of work, establishing, validating and integrating baselines and communicating with other functions.

In the context of project controls, a baseline is an approved start point used

as a basis for performance measurement

PC03         List of Elements
3.1    Facilitate refinement of project deliverables and requirements

3.2    Define executable packages of work

3.3    Establish the baseline

3.4    Communicate with other functions

3.5    Support validation of the baseline

PC03         Element 1
3.1    Facilitate refinement of project deliverables and requirements
Performance Criteria Explanatory Statements
3.1.1  Detail of deliverables and requirements for the overall project or phaseare verified.

3.1.2  Assumptions and constraints are documented.

 

 

 

Integrated baseline may also be referred to as the project plan. Items in Integrated baseline should include audit requirements.

High level deliverables and requirements would be provided by the Project Manager. Input for refinement of deliverables and requirements may be obtained from participating specialists.

Overall project or phase refers to [“overall project or phase” may best be dealt with in an overall statement.]

Assumptions and constraints made in developing baselines must be documented.

 

PC03         Element 2
3.2    Define executable packages of work
Performance Criteria Explanatory Statements
3.2.1  Detailedbreakdown structures are developed.

3.2.2  Responsibilities for work packagesare identified.

Breakdown structures may include breakdown of project, product, resource, organisation and work breakdown structures, milestone deliverables, work packages and the like.

 

PC03         Element 3
3.3    Establish the baseline
Performance Criteria Explanatory Statements
3.3.1  Resource requirements are determined

3.3.2  Sources of dataare identified.

3.3.3  Input is sought from other functions.

3.3.4  Scope, cost, schedule, risk and quality baselines are integrated.

 

Baseline in the context of project controls is an approved start point used as a basis for performance measurement.

Resource requirements may include staffing, material, funding, machinery, time, equipment, supplies

Input may include confirmation of resource availability, scope, cost, timing, regulatory, environmental, political, economic, contractual and other implications and do-ability review

Other functions may include design, engineering, procurement, construction, human resources, finance, commercial, operations and the like.

Development of scope, cost, schedule, risk and quality baselines may be the responsibility of separate specialists. Procurement, operational, environmental, communication, resource and other baselines may be included.

PC03         Element 4
3.4    Communicate with other functions
Performance Criteria Explanatory Statements
3.4.1  Report content, formats and frequencies are determined.

3.4.2  Responsibilities for information provision are defined and accepted.

3.4.3   Baseline information is provided as an input to other functions.

3.4.4  Information on quality and availability of potential resources is provided.

 

As above

PC03         Element 5
3.5    Support validation of the baseline
Performance Criteria Explanatory Statements
3.5.1  Compliance with applicable standards and regulations is verified.

3.5.2  Alignment with declared strategy is maintained.

3.5.3  Independent expert reviewis sought.

3.5.4   Supporting artefacts are provided

 

Declared strategy is that which has been adopted by the project. It may be specific for the project, an organisation strategy and / or the project control strategy.

 

Independent Expert reviewmay include peer review or be provided by specialists independent from the project, internal or external.

Artefacts may include but is not limited to written, printed or electronic documents, digitised matter, drawings, models, or photographs that provide information or evidence or that serve as an official record.

 

PC04                       Implement control framework
Unit Descriptor       This Unit defines the Elements required to implement the control framework.

It includes the Performance Criteria required to demonstrate competency in how to support the project applying control processes, gathering and analysing data and information, providing reports, recommending corrective actions and supporting the implementation of corrective action.     

PC04         List of Elements
4.1    Apply project control processes

4.2    Ensure information quality

4.3    Analyse comparative data

4.4    Implement agreed reporting structures

4.5    Recommend corrective action

4.6    Support implementation of corrective action

PC04         Element 1
4.1    Apply project control processes
Performance Criteria Explanatory Statements
4.1.1  Actual performance data is captured

4.1.2  Impacts of change are analysed.

4.1.3  Approved changes are incorporated into the baseline andrelevantdocuments

 

Impact is the effect of a change on the baseline or project objectives.

Change is a positive or negative deviation from baseline and can be as a result of a scope change, inefficiencies, external influences, safety issues etc.

Approved changesshould only result in a change to the baseline if this is in accordance with the governance framework.  

PC04         Element 2
4.2    Ensure information quality
Performance Criteria Explanatory Statements
4.2.1  Ability to obtain information from stakeholders is demonstrated.

4.2.2  Information is questioned for meaning, validity and reliability.

4.2.3  Information is stored, maintained, updated and utilized

Reliability includes backward (accurate) and forward looking (forecast) perspectives. It also includes confidence that information will continue to be provided predictably.

 

PC04         Element 3
4.3    Analyse comparative data
Performance Criteria Explanatory Statements
4.3.1  Performance variances are analysed

4.3.2  Performance forecasts are conducted.

Variances may be positive or negative differences from the baseline

 

PC04         Element 4
4.4    Implement agreed reporting structures
Performance Criteria Explanatory Statements
4.4.1  Project reports are issued in accordance with the governance and control frameworks.

4.4.2  Applicableregulatory and commercial control requirementsare supported.

4.4.3  Information is collated to validate submissions.

Regulatory requirements will usually be imposed as a result of legislation.  They may be generic or industry specific and will normally vary with jurisdiction.

Commercial control requirements will be defined by the contract or other applicable form of engagement.

Submissionsmay be from contractors, suppliers, vendors, service providers, consultants or to customers, clients or other stakeholders and may include claims, bids / tenders, product reviews, invoices, reports, updated schedules etc.

PC04         Element 5
4.5    Recommend corrective action
Performance Criteria Explanatory Statements
4.5.1  Response options are generated.

4.5.2  Viable options are identified.

4.5.3  Selectedresponse options are documented and proposed

 

Corrective actions may relate to variations from baseline or to requirements or opportunities for continuous improvement.

Viability is established by way of expert judgement or a qualitative assessment, or by quantitative analysis.

Response options may include but is not limited to requests for further information / detail, engagement of other experts, coaching and mentoring, updating of systems, re-planning, or stopping depending on the particular challenge. Impact analysis may be undertaken in developing options.

PC04         Element 6
4.6    Support implementation of corrective actions
Performance Criteria Explanatory Statements
4.6.1  Approvedresponse options are communicated for implementation.

4.6.2  Relevant documents are updated to reflect the impacts of action approved for implementation.

4.6.3  Adjustments to systems, policies, and procedures are documented, proposed, approved by relevant stakeholders and tracked to resolution.

4.6.4  Impacts of implemented corrective actions are monitored, captured and reported.

Contributions are made to corrective actions to address reported variances in project performance.

Adjustmentsmay be highlighted by insights from, for example; reviews, system failures and gaps, benchmarking.

Resolutionmay include updated or changed systems, processes, policies and procedures but may be finalised by non-acceptance.  Where possible official sign-off should be obtained.

Impacts may be positive or negative.

 

PC05                       Exercise professional and social responsibility
Unit Descriptor       This Unit defines the Elements required to maintain effective and professional working relationships.

It includes the Performance Criteria required to demonstrate competency in applying values and ethics in a professional manner, achieving effective working relationships and continuing development of performance.     

PC05         List of Elements
5.1    Observe and apply professional ethics and values

5.2    Maintain effective working relationships

5.3    Ensure continued personal and professional performance

PC05         Element 1
5.1    Observe and apply professional ethics and values
Performance Criteria Explanatory Statements
5.1.1  Acceptedvalues and ethics are defined and communicated

5.1.2  Behavioursreflect accepted ethics and values

5.1.3  Sensitivity to local cultural values, ethics and practices is demonstrated.

Values and ethicsreferred to here will include industry ethics and those stated at organisational, team, professional and cultural level.

Behaviours may be agreed at organisational, project or team level.

Sensitivity includes accommodation of differing values, ethics and practices of communities, suppliers, workforce, political context and the like.

PC05         Element 2
5.2    Maintain effective working relationships
Performance Criteria Explanatory Statements
5.2.1  Desired results are achieved through influence and positive behaviour.

5.2.2  The priorities, expectations and needs of colleagues are understood and considered when making decisions and taking actions.

5.2.3  Issues are resolved in a constructive manner.

5.2.4  Communications are conducted in accordance with the approved communication plan.

5.2.5  People are treated with respect.

Constructive mannermay include Conflict resolution techniques such as: Crucial conversations, Negotiation, escalation up the line, dealing with the issue not the person.

Communications may include content required, method used (e.g., electronic, phone, meeting), geographical dispersion, protocols, cultural differences, and confidentiality requirements. They may be documented formally or informally and may be included in other project documentation.

Respect may include consideration of cultural differences, sensitivity of information shared etc.

 

PC05         Element 3
5.3    Ensure continued personal and professional performance
Performance Criteria Explanatory Statements
5.3.1  Personal development plan is documented, updated and implemented.

5.3.2  Personal performance is evaluated and reviewed against an agreed performance contract

Evaluated may include 360 degree and other approaches and will usually be in accordance with organizational performance evaluation processes.  It should be supported by individual review and reflection on personal performance.

A performance contractis the formal or informal agreement between an individual and their employer concerning expectations of their performance in their role.

 

PC06                       Manage the control team (optional for Project Controller)
Unit Descriptor       This Unit defines the Elements required to manage the project control team.

It is an optional unit as a specialist controls person may not be managing a team. It includes the Performance Criteria required to demonstrate competency in how to allocate work, support and develop the team.     

PC06         List of Elements
6.1    Allocate work to the team

6.2    Agree objectives with team and individuals

6.3    Develop the skills of team members

6.4    Build an environment of confidence and trust within the control team

PC06         Element 1
6.1    Allocate work to the team
Performance Criteria Explanatory Statements
6.1.1  Roles and responsibilities are clarified, agreed, documented and communicated

6.1.2  Work is assigned and agreed.

Agreed includes documentation of said agreement.

 

PC06         Element 2
6.2    Agree objectives with team and individuals
Performance Criteria Explanatory Statements
6.2.1  Performance criteria for each team member are clarified, negotiated and agreed.

6.2.2  Team objectives are mutually developed, understood and agreed.

6.2.3  Individual and team performance is monitored and feedback provided.

Team Objectives are aligned to the project objectives

 

PC06         Element 3
6.3    Develop the skills of team members
Performance Criteria Explanatory Statements
6.3.1  Professional development is encouraged and acknowledged.

 

 Professional development may include internal accreditation / internal licence to operate.

 

PC06         Element 4
6.4    Build an environment of confidence and trust within the control team
Performance Criteria Explanatory Statements
6.4.1  Team members are treated fairly and equitably.

6.4.2  Open discussion is encouraged and facilitated

6.4.3  Differences are managed constructively.

6.4.4  Issues and concerns are attended to in a timely manner.

6.4.5  Interpersonal and leadership styles are chosen and applied based on the circumstances.

6.4.6  Personal commitments are realistic and honoured.

6.4.7  An independent and objective perspective is maintained.

 

 

Figure 4. Detail of Units, Elements, and Performance Criteria

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