Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Decison-making in The Woodlands - part 2

The seven phases of a project are:
  1. Proposal: overview of a proposed budget item, defining the problem, a solution, estimated cost and expected benefit. On large projects, this consists of substantial analysis and networking with people.
  2. Defining the alternatives and selecting the preferred alternative. Refine cost estimate. Produce general plan. Select contractors for contracts needed in detailed planning.
  3. Detailed Planning: define schedules, resources, contracts, execution plan with tasks, milestones, cash flow and other resource consumption. Refine cost estimate. Bidding and selection for execution contracts. Financing.
  4. Execution: construction or development phase. Monitor cost and resources, manage contracts. Report progress and issues routinely. This is where the highest costs occur and what many people believe is project management.
  5. Implementation: bringing the deliverables into their useful state to realize anticipated benefits. This is where success is usually defined, so that the next step can be executed at the appropriate time or times in the future. Measuring tools are put into place to monitor expected benefits. Project documentation for operation is generated. What went right, what went wrong, abstractly develop learning experience. This is where the project team learns from each other.
  6. Operation: Start-up processes are executed, staff trained, operational budget is monitored. Benefits delivered to stakeholders.
  7. Look-back: measuring success. This is where promises meet reality. It is where project manager and stakeholders can learn how to do the job better. It usually occurs months or even a year or two later, depending on the nature of the project.
A project can be effectively managed amidst other projects by a management team by using a gated approach. Between each phase of the project, stop at the gate to discuss progress and decide to proceed to the next phase or if more preparation is required first. The execution phase can be divided up into two separate sub-phases or even more, if the project is very expensive. All this sounds like excess overhead and it is sometimes, but it saves a lot of money and time in large capital projects. In small projects, one must decide what is appropriate for the value to be derived, not necessarily on the cost alone.

So why go through all this trouble in a government? Because the process allows stakeholders to participate and guide the results. It is a logical process where the stakeholders know where the project stands and where it is going at what speed. Even in a small community, the process should not the allowed to be lax. The community has few dollars and wants the results of their selected projects to have highest value, just like a large corporation. Due process does not to have to be terribly constraining so that nothing gets done. It just needs to be logical and able to be replicated.

This will be continued in part three.

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