Why the Percent Complete is Critical in Reporting Projects’ Performance?

Regardless of the project that you are managing, reporting the project’s performance depends on having a robust and documented process on determining the percent complete for the completed project’s scope of work. The Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) and Organization Breakdown Structure (OBS) provides the project team with a logical yet robust approach for decomposing the project’s scope of work to the desired level of control to enable them to objectively quantify the percent complete of what has been achieved. The WBS is where the project scope will be defined while the OBS will define the entity who will be responsible for delivering this scope of work as well as report the achieved performance. This point of intersection is known as the Control Account or Work Package where the project scope of work, schedule and cost are planned and managed.

Defining the Value of Control Accounts

The value of each control account will be determined by mapping the relevant project’s schedule of values line items into the control account. Accordingly, the sum of all control accounts should equal the project’s contract value between the project’s owner and the contractor. This will also ensure that the project scope had been defined and captured in full. Using PMWeb Contract module, the control account reference, description, value and the project’s schedule WBS activity that captures the start and finish dates of the control account will be mapped into the contract’s default input form.

The control accounts’ data captured in PMWeb contract module can be reported on in different forms and formats to provide the project team with a better understanding of the project’s scope of work and the value of this work. Further, the control accounts can be associated with other data tables created in PMWeb using the custom form builder to provide more details on each control account. For example, the OBS levels and categories can be added to each control account to capture and report on the specific particulars of each control account. In addition, the report can display the weight for each control account from the total project by building a formula in the report to calculate this weight factor. Histograms to analyze the breakdown of the project’s value by different control account levels can also become part of the report to provide better visualization on how the project’s value is distributed across the control accounts or any other attribute.

The Control Account (CA) Card

The Control Account Manager (CAM) will be the one responsible for defining the activities and resources needed to deliver the scope of work included in the control account. Based on the scheduled activities, the planned percent complete for completing each control account will be determined. The percent complete values need to be aligned with the project’s financial periods defined in PMWeb as well as used in other applications that might be needed when it comes to reporting project’s performance. The percent complete values could be based the control account’s quantity of work, resources level of effort, milestone dates among other known techniques used in determining the percent complete values. Each control account will usually have two planned percent complete projections, the first is based on the early schedule dates while the second will be based on the late schedule dates. This data along with other relevant control account’s data will be captured in the Control Account Card which is a custom form created in PMWeb.

On monthly basis, the control account manager needs to update the control accounts assigned to him/her by providing the approved percent complete for the period using the Control Account Card. It should be noted that the reported percent complete is the same percent complete used in the monthly payment requisition submitted by the contractor to the project owner. It is also highly recommended to add a narrative to explain the progress achieved during this progress period. In addition, CAM needs to assess the planned Estimate to Complete (ETC) to complete the remaining scope of work for each control account. The control account manager is required to attach the updated CPM Schedule and other documents needed to justify the reported progress for the control account. When all completed, the control account manager needs to formally submit the CA Card using the workflow assigned for the form to ensure formal review and approval of the reported performance.

Reporting the Project Performance

The captured progress data will be used to create the control account performance report for which the planned, actually earned and estimate to complete performance percent complete will be reported on. The report will include S-Curve to display those values as well as a histogram to display the schedule performance index (SPI) for each progress period. The tabular section of the report will include the progress details of each period including schedule variance in value and weight as well as the details of the progress narrative.

This performance data will be aggregated into a single report to provide the overall project’s performance status at the end of the reported performance period. The report will display a histogram for the schedule variance (SV) and schedule performance index (SPI) for each control account. In addition, the tabular section will include the performance details for those control accounts. The report reader can drilldown to the control account performance report shown above by clicking on the relevant control account in the tabular section. Of course, the project team can create additional reports to analyze and reports on the project’s performance in other form and format that could be needed by them.

Reporting Project Financial Performance

The performance data captured for each control account can also be used to assess the project’s financial performance. The actual cost for each control account will be captured in PMWeb Progress Invoices and Miscellaneous invoices modules with the option to also include the data from the Timesheet module if it is used to capture actual resources hours. For each commitment between the contractor and the subcontractors, suppliers, vendors, company business units among others, the cost should be distributed against the same control account levels used in defining the project’s scope of work. This will ensure complete financial transparency between the revenue earned and the actual cost spent in delivering the scope of work for each control account and the project as an overall. Of course, it will also allow comparing the total project revenue, actual cost commitments to deliver the project scope and all changes to the revenue and actual cost commitments whether those were potential, approved, pending or disputed.

With this additional data becoming available, performance reports can be generated to report the actual cost, cost variance (CV) and cost performance index (CPI) for each control account. Of course, should the organization have the project’s actual cost captured at their head office using one of the ERP solutions like MS Dynamics, Oracle EBS, SAP among others and the organization does not want to integrate PMWeb with those applications, the same report and analysis can still be produced as long as the same control account ID and financial periods are used by the ERP application. Today, most business intelligence and data visualization tools allows extracting, loading, transferring, associating, blending and reporting on multiple data sources as long as there are common fields between those different applications.

From this summary progress report, it is possible to drilldown to a specific control account to get the details of both schedule and cost performance. The report can be designed in different forms and formats to include the performance trends of schedule and cost variances. The report can be also expanded to include details of changes whether they were for the contract between the contractor and project owner or the contractor and his subcontractors, suppliers among others. Those could include potential, approved, pending and disputed changes. Again, all of this data is captured on a single database repository by PMWeb using the appropriate cost management template for each process. The forms used for those processes can be attached with the supportive documents as well as linked to other related PMWeb records. In addition, all those forms can be assigned workflows to formalize the processes for submitting, reviewing, sharing and approving the data being transmitted through those project management processes.

How About if The Performance Reporting Needs to Be Done from the Project Owner Perspective?

All of the above will be applicable but with only one modification and that is instead of using the PMWeb Contract module to capture the agreement between the project owner and the contractor, the project owner will use the Project Budget module which details the target investment approved by the project owner for delivering the project. PMWeb Budget Module and Budget Requests Module will be used to create and maintain the project budget. Of course, the contract agreement between the project owner and the contractor(s) and other entities will become now the commitments.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the percent complete provides an excellent and proven method for reporting the planned and actual projects performance. Nevertheless, for the percent complete to be of value, it needs to be assessed against a well-defined and approved scope of work. The WBS and OBS techniques are used to create the project’s control accounts where the project scope of work, schedule and cost are planned and managed. This will enable the control account manager to determine the planned progress percent complete based on the planned activities and resources needed to deliver the control account as defined in the project baseline schedule. When the project commences, each control account manager needs to assess the actual percent complete for the accomplished work and report the details of this performance. This will enable the project team to have real-time single version of the truth project’s performance and status report