When talking about Project control we are generally describing the function within which the specialists sit. Theses specialists are in turn responsible for data gathering, management and the analytical processes which are deployed to baseline, manage and understand the time and cost outcomes of a project or programme. They provide a valuable service which assists the effective management and decision making within programmes and projects.

In some organisations “Project Controls” is seen within the wider context of project management and as such does not exist as a function in its own right.

However in many large engineering and construction environments such as oil and gas it is seen as a function in its own right and supports the Programme/Project Managers to effectively deliver the programmes and projects which are being undertaken.

For many practitioners working in this area this is an opportunity to work as a specialist in the project management environment, taking on roles such as;

  • Planning
  • Schedule management and control
  • Cost estimation, management and control
  • Risk identification, management and control
  • Earned Value Management (EVM)
  • Document Control
  • Performance tracking and reporting
  • Quality Management and Assurance
  • Contract Management and Administration


As we can see from the list of activities, these are all important elements of project management and the Project Controls function is probably created in many organisations due to the sheer size and complexity of the programmes/projects that they are delivering. In a much smaller environment they are all tasks that would be undertaken by the project manager and/or their team. It is also possible to see some overlap with the PMO function as once again we see that there is no single answer to the challenges posed when setting up an organisation to effectively deliver programmes and projects.


Some Typical Project Controls Roles We Recruit:

Work Package Managers

The term Work Package Manager and Workstream Lead are interchangable.

The entire scope of the project such as; the deliverables, the actions needed to be captured, created and integrated, the aims of the project should be captured in a work breakdown structure. It’s an easy trap to define work packages as a list of work but really it should capture an element of the project scope. This is what that package will do for the project rather than how. Its desired outcome for the project rather than a list of actions to be performed.  Feel free to swap scope with product but really the scope of the project is the sum of all its deliverables and actions. The sum of the entire projects product features.

Project Cost Engineers

Project Cost Engineers are a role which focused purely on the cost status of large and complex programmes and projects. The Project Cost Engineer will monitor, control, measure and report the cost status to the Programme Manager or Project Manager they report to.

The title gives a clue to the type of organisations and industry sectors the Project Cost Engineer will work within; construction, rail, engineering and manufacturing are the usual areas.

The costs on these types of projects will include both tangible products and materials as well as the labour hours required to deliver the project. The Project Cost Engineer will forge close links with both the procurement and commercial departments of the organisation to ensure not only services and materials are procured efficiently but also that cost information is accrued, forecasted and invoiced correctly.

Project Risk Managers

Project Risk Managers or, put more directly, Risk Managers are project and programme management roles which solely concentrate on the risk management aspects of a programme or project.

Individual risk managers will quite often be utilised on large and complex programmes and projects, whilst also working alongside the programme manager or project manager.

Risk Managers can also be found within the PMO functions (be they for Programme Office or for Project Office functions) as a dedicated specialist.

The Risk Manager in this type of environment will not only provide expert support to the programmes and projects but would also be responsible for the risk management procedure, policies, tools and techniques that make up an organisation’s best practice approach to risk management.

Project Risk Managers will tend to be experienced project managers who have gone on to specialise in risk management. The qualification “Management of Risk (MoR)” is a must for any risk management expert.

Programme & Project Planners

A dedicated role within a programme, project or programme office which purely concentrates on the initial and ongoing planning of a project or programme. The Project Planner is also a role which is focused within one programme or project. The planner generally has excellent skills in working with the Project Manager and team to initially assist in scoping the project, creating, issuing and controlling project plans, implementing earned value techniques, identification of project plan issues and supporting the project manager in issue resolution and decision making.

The project planner will also be expert in particular planning tools (PPT) – MS Project, Primavera, ca, Artemis etc and equally at home with MS Excel as basic. The Project Planner works proactively with the Project Manager and project team and ensures the project plan remains current and up to date, they’ll also be able to assist in areas such as capacity planning, resource management planning and interdependency management on larger projects and programmes.

Like the Project Planner, the Programme Planner supports the Programme Manager and Project Managers in planning activities to facilitate the delivery of the programme within budget and within timescales. The role differs slightly from that of a project planner due to the support that is required across projects within the programme.

Due to the programme nature – often meaning multiple projects, complexity in terms of shared resources and larger scale in term of budget and scope etc, the programme planner may have both the duties of the project planner i.e., planning on the individual projects as well as the programme planning duties.

Project Estimator

The Project Estimator is also known as a Cost Estimator and is generally a role found within the construction, engineering or manufacturing industries The Estimator will work from the bid/tender stage all way through to completion of the project.

The estimator – as the name suggests – is responsible for estimating or forecasting the cost of a project (time, resources, materials etc) over its entire lifetime. When you consider the lifespan and complexity of some construction projects it is easy to see why such a role is an important addition to the project team. Due to the nature of the construction industry – where businesses compete to tender for the work – it is important that accurate costs are understood before starting the build.

Project Estimators are analysts in a lot of respects – taking data from all quarters, understanding requirements, taking past projects into account for accurate costings and producing robust cost plans. The project estimator will also have effective planning skills – the ability to use a variety of operating and plannig methods to provide detailed analysis. They will also use planning software tools like that of a project planner and may perform the role of planner as the project moves into the delivery cycle.

Benefits Realisation Managers

Benefits Realisation and Benefits Management have become increasingly popular in programmes, projects, PMOs and portfolio offices. Organisations which run large, complex programmes and projects have increasingly turned to programme management as a process to help manage these complexities.

Benefits management is defined as; “A structured approach to ensure maximum benefits are delivered, that involves identifying, planning, measuring and tracking benefits from the start of a project until all its benefits are realised. The term ‘benefits management’ is often used interchangeably with the term ‘benefits realisation’. Source: Department of Finance and Personnel, Northern Ireland

Benefits Managers or Benefits Realisation Managers are specifically managing this aspect of a project, programme or portfolio. You may also find this role within a Programme Office or Centre of Excellence model of a PMO.

Open Positions

Looking to Recruit Project Controls staff?

To discuss your Project Controller recruitment with the team at Arras People, call us or use the contact form

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