Because you have performed very well in your project review task, you have gained a position as a program manager in an organisation that provides project management services for planning, designing and implementing engineering projects.
The projects for which the organisation provides its services encompass all disciplines of engineering, plus related disciplines like construction.
Your main responsibility is the management of a program of approximately six (6) engineering projects in your organisation.
You have just taken over this particular program, and are keen to make an impression.
Three (3) of the six (6) projects in this program are progressing well towards a satisfactory result. The remaining three (3) projects, Project A, Project B and Project C require attention.
The information given below about each project is fairly basic. You are expected to develop additional details about each project as part of your answer, and for each project nominate an example project (for example, an infrastructure development project for Project A, development of a new manufacturing system for Project C) for which to develop your answers. Further information with respect to these matters is in sub-questions 1 and 2 of Question 1(a).
Project A is a planning, design and implementation infrastructure development project (about $15 million in value and expected to take about three years from the start of planning to completion), which is well advanced in its planning component. While the project is progressing well in terms of time, cost and quality, there are a number of sustainability and stakeholder management issues with it.
This project is being undertaken in an environmentally sensitive area in which live a number of property owners who are quite concerned with the impact of the project on their environment. In particular, they are concerned that a thorough environmental risk assessment has not been undertaken with respect to the long-term impact on the sensitive bushland area in which they live. They are also concerned that completion of the project, through providing the basis for significant property development and destruction of bushland, will forever change the social fabric of their region. They have formed a Landholders’ Action Committee that is determined to prevent the project from succeeding. The delays caused by the concerns of the property owners have the potential to threaten the completion of this project satisfactorily.
There is an alternative, less controversial route for the infrastructure being developed. This route is acceptable to the Landholders’ Action Committee. It will, however, cost an addition $1.5 million to use this route, which will result in a six month delay to delivery of the project.
Project B is the development of a facility in a remote area, of about $5 million in value, of approximately 18 months’ planned duration. It is 30 per cent completed. Earned Value analysis shows that the project is not achieving its planned cost or progress targets. The project is also not achieving quality requirements.
Some of the specialised components used for this project are only obtainable from overseas suppliers,
and are difficult to transport over the rough terrain near the project site. There has been a delay on ordering these components. The transportation of these components, which has to be booked several months ahead, has not been arranged, and there is also difficulty with obtaining tradespeople with the requisite set of skills to install them.
There are also a number of other risks associated with this project, including a quite basic business case, rudimentary project charter, poor definition of expected project outcomes, exchange rate risks and the potential for significant penalties to be levied if it is not completed in time for the local Member of Parliament to officially open it.
Project C is a small (about $2 million in value) but complex project that has as its purpose the development of a new computer based management system, and is highly complex in nature. In particular, it has a number of small interrelated sub-systems that are mutually dependent, and does not have a well-defined direction. It is currently about 40 per cent complete.
This project is being developed by staff of your organisation, with the assistance of specialist contractors as required. Differences between the development staff and organisational management about the direction that the project should take threaten, however, to impact on its successful delivery. Similarly, requests by organisational management for scope change are numerous, and change control procedures are poor. To date, the project manager has successfully managed to manage requests. This may not always be the case.
If the new system achieves its desired goals, the organisation would be expected to achieve considerable productivity improvements. However, it is threatened by non-completion unless all parties involved successfully resolve their differences about the direction of the project.
There has been a recent change in the composition of the Board of Directors of the organisation. The new Board has decided that the organisation should develop a more focused strategic direction, and in particular wishes to focus on projects with strong business cases, well defined project charters and very clear objectives that must be agreed to by key stakeholders. All projects must be very closely aligned to the particular engineering disciplines represented in the organisation. There is a strong focus on minimising risks to the organisation and on good communication between all parties in all projects. In addition, there is a strong focus on project completion.
The new Board is committed to completion of existing projects, and will provide the necessary resources to compete these projects, even at a potential loss, in order to maintain and build its client base. It is, however, not keen to undertake further internally focused projects like system development. The Board does, however, want to be prudent in the way that it manages its projects, and to build a platform for a successful future.
The Board therefore urgently requires that you review these projects and present a report on what steps you will take to ensure that all three projects that require attention will be completed on time and to the required quality. Losses are to be minimised. Internal projects are to be carefully scrutinised to see whether they could be outsourced if that is a better option.
You will accordingly need to undertake a review of all three (3) projects to ascertain whether they fit the organisation’s new strategic direction and what action should be taken given the potential risks associated with them.
Question 1 (a) (3000 to 4000 words) (300 marks) Analysis of Performance of the Selected Projects
1. Nominate three (3) example projects for discussion. (30 marks – 10 marks per project)
Nominate an organisation of your choice, and the engineering discipline or disciplines in which it is operating.
Nominate three (3) suitable projects (for example, road development, subdivisional development, power station, mobile phone network, mining, provision of industrial equipment, installation, maintenance, surveying, research and development) to use as examples for your discussion.
These projects should be consistent with your nomination of the type of engineering disciplines in which your organisation operates.
2. Define key characteristics of each project nominated. (75 marks – 25 marks per project)
ï‚· Fit with current organisational strategic direction ï‚· Estimated cost ï‚· Estimated duration ï‚· Expected quality of deliverables ï‚· Current expenditure, percentage complete, quality standard achieved ï‚· Key stakeholders ï‚· Main risks ï‚· Impact on the environment and society – short term and long term ï‚· Complexity ï‚· Other factors (for example, human resource, communications, procurement) ï‚· Project integration factors ï‚· Any other significant factor impacting on the project
3. Review each of the projects nominated in the background with respect to their alignment with corporate direction and the principles of good project and program management. (105 marks – 35 marks per project)
Areas to consider in this review include, but are not limited to:
ï‚· Project charter and plan ï‚· Business case for the project in accordance with the new strategic direction of your organisation ï‚· Identification of project stakeholders and their role in the project ï‚· Potential to be completed within the constraints of time, cost and quality ï‚· Likelihood of the project’s scope being changed as a result of stakeholder issues and requirements ï‚·