Categories: news Date: Oct 1, 2010 Title: "Getting started on the right track: Ensuring Project Life Cycle Success through Integration and Alignment"
By Jeff Turner
Integration and alignment between the project team and the owner's organization is fundamental to project success. Too often large, complex projects take on an independent identity without developing alliances and relationships with the rest of the business organization and key suppliers. The reach of project controls and information is biased towards the immediate project environment without the means or intent to include the broader organization. There are many reasons for this but the consequences of limited preparation and stakeholder input are the same. It leads to unknown variables and confusion.
Completing a production based project successfully is difficult. The degree of difficulty goes up significantly if the production process is new and unproven. The standard approach to overcome this difficulty is for the project team to identify specific tasks, arrange them in sequential order, assign tracking responsibilities and commence the project delivery. Picture a series of dominoes set up in one continuous pattern. There is one starting point and one ending point with a variety of pathways and interchanges in between. Ideally, the first domino is pushed over creating a sequential cascade ending with the intended results. Planning, preparation and attention to detail enable this.
Production based projects are infinitely more complex than a cascade of dominoes but the owner's expectations are similar. A project starts at a given point and concludes at a given point with the intention of achieving certain goals. The notable difference is in managing the planning, delivery and preparation for ongoing operations. Complex projects require focused attention on the numerous variables and interface requirements that must to be organized and managed through the process. This requires input and consideration by the people closest to those variables and interface points. It requires integration and alignment between the project team and the other key stakeholders.
Consider the following stakeholder groups.
1. The Owner's organization
2. The market
3. The raw material supply
4. The Project Team
5. Regulatory Agencies
Has the project planning process considered the questions, answers, expectations, concerns and organizational abilities of each of these groups? Are there defined plans to ensure a routine flow of information between each of these groups for the project duration? Will preparations be made to launch the newly created facility and products on a path of continued improvement and innovative success? Does the project have a clear understanding of what success means for all that are involved?
Answering yes to these questions implies a commitment to cover ground far beyond the immediate project organization. It will require time and resources, but the effort is worth it. A project's life cycle success is not achieved through the management of project controls alone. It's not just about ideal financing or fiscal responsibility. It's not just about the scope and schedule. Life cycle success of a production based project requires defined and specific participation from the broader business organization and key suppliers.