Thursday, June 3, 2010

A typical project experience?

I recently was involved in a construction project that whilst ultimately judged a success, there goes any suspense I may be able to build up, struggled through a few issues along the way. See if these sound familiar...

The project was initiated due to a legal / insurance requirement, it HAD to go ahead and it HAD to be finished by a certain date for compliance, no schedule extensions would be allowed.

It was a struggle to get the project kicked off properly as the resources were difficult to co-ordinate. Then, two days before the project was due to start the execution phase, a conflicting project called priority on a key resource and the project execution start was delayed two days, which used up all the available slack. In fact risk mitigation measures were used to extend the availability of the key resource to ensure the completion date could be met.

A just in time approach was used for the engineering design. Unfortunately this meant that initial budgets were not very accurate, although luckily they were higher than actuals, based mainly upon the lower unit cost than estimated of materials. The materials quantity takeoff proved to be very accurate with little wastage. 
Stakeholder management was an important part of this project and the stakeholder who was identified as being primary was included in design reviews. This worked very well for the approvals process during design. With regular inspections of the work by the primary stakeholder, the only problem encountered was that certain parts of the design had not been fully explained to the stakeholder, who insisted upon a mid-execution design amendment. This was not a major change to the design and was more related to finishing works, but did result in some additional material costs, the effect on the schedule was negligible.

The project also had a secondary benefit in that equipment purchased for the project was able to be written off on the project, so remains a cheap asset for future projects.
Lessons learned? If you are familiar with the type of work, then just in time design can be an effective approach, but make sure you fully brief the stakeholders and address their concerns in balance with other stakeholders.

What was the project? Just some steps I had to re-build at home...


During and design:

Note the clear primary stakeholder (my wife) decision for how the steps are to be configured marked by "X" and ""...

Project completion:


  1. Firstly Pat - great job on the steps and landing - looks great!! Secondly, very good post, love the parallel.

    My recent house renovations used all my contingency and then blew out in cost by 30% and in time by 150%!! (I'm blaming lack of previous project experience on behalf of the project manager (me) and primary contractor (also me)!.

  2. Thanks Jamie.

    Yes, I know what you mean, it is funny but at work you can handle huge projects, but at home seldom follow p.m. process for what are important projects in terms of your home life and potential impacts...

    Remember, one man's activity is another man's project, it just depends how you zoom in on the WBS!