By Jen Emswiler | Harkcon's Program Control Analyst
My stress is immediately reduced when I think about program control and what is does for our business. When something provides you the ability to track projects, reduce risk, increase accuracy and prevent error in your business all at once, how can you not be overjoyed and feel more at ease? This is what program control is all about. Program control is a set of operational practices that promote communication across departments while executing the operational functions of a business. Program control provides support through planning, tracking, analysis and reporting throughout the life cycle of a project. This is accomplished by implementing processes and linking departments together to ensure communication, accountability, and accuracy. It’s the left hand (operations) talking to the right hand (finance) and ensuring both departments are doing what compliments the other.
You may think: this sounds good and all, but where should I start with program control for my business and what are the key benefits? Excellent questions! Let’s consider the following benefits of program control in a business:
• Ensures project completeness, accuracy, and validity
• Offers error handling and reduces risk
• Prevents and detects fraud
• Links departments together to provide better communication
• Permits immediate action to be taken against undesirable performance
• Guarantees financial reporting is accurate and reliable
• Enables project presentation and disclosure to upper management
Are you convinced yet? You may say ‘we’re too small for program control’. Though you may be a small business, you are never too small for program control. Even a relatively small business can enforce certain processes that can prove to be very effective. With program control processes in place, your business will not only function better internally, but will be better equipped to serve your clients as well. Here are five questions to ask before getting started with implementing program control in your business:
1. What program control functions does your business have?
Your business may already have processes and controls in place such as planning, tracking, and analyzing a project, but they may not function as cohesively as an operating program control process.
2. What type of program control would you need?
Evaluate procedures and determine if they are minimizing risk and managing resources to ensure projects are efficient and effective. Define the aspects of program control you would want to implement in your business.
3. Are there weaknesses in your business that program control could help resolve?
There may be some areas of weakness in your business that program control could help strengthen. There may be a lack of communication between departments, unreliable financial reporting, or the lack of a process in place to resolve errors or predict risk.
4. Are there strengths in your business that program control could enhance?
Meet with your staff and get feedback! Determine what is working well and how program control could improve your business and further develop your business’ strengths.
5. Who is involved in program control?
This is very important to determine. Take some time to determine who is involved in managing projects internally and how they are communicating. In order to link key personnel together, our business has one Program Control Analyst who ensures processes are being implemented and followed by providing support to the operations department, while linking departments together to ensure communication is occurring and that processes are being streamlined and not duplicated.
The next step in implementing program control in your business is to develop a program control process. You will need to identify tools and resources needed for program control to be effective in your business. Once a program is developed you will need to educate personnel, implement the processes, and evaluate it.
If you would like to contact the author of this blog, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and reference the title, "5 Questions to Ask Before Implementing Program Control in Your Business."