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CHAPTER 1 / PROJECTS IN CONTEMPORARY ORGANIZATIONS

The tremendous diversity of uses to which project management can be put has had an interesting, and generally unfortunate, side-effect. While we assert that all projects are to some extent unique, there is ari almost universal tendency for those working on some specific types of projects to argue, "Software (or construction, or R & D, or marketing, or machine maintenance, or. . .) projects are different and you can't expect us to schedule (or budget, or organize, or manage, or. . .) in the same way that other kinds of projects do." Disagreement with such pleas for special treatment is central to the philosophy of this book. The fundamental similarities between all sorts of projects, be they long or short, product- or service-oriented, parts of all-encompassing programs or stand-alone, are far more pervasive than are their differences.

There are real limitations on project management. For example, the mere creation of a project may be an admission that the parent organization and its managers cannot accomplish the desired outcomes through the functional organization. Further, conflict seems to be a necessary side-effect. As we noted, the project manager often lacks authority that is consistent with the assigned level of responsibility. Therefore, the project manager must depend on the goodwill of managers in the parent organization for some of the necessary resources. Of course, if the goodwill is not forthcoming, the project manager may ask senior officials in the parent organization for their assistance, but to use such power often reflects poorly on the skills of the project manager and, while it may get cooperation in the instance at hand, it may backfire in the long run.

We return to the subject of the advantages, disadvantages, and limitations of the project form of organization later. For the moment, it is sufficient to point out that project management is difficult even when everything goes well. When things go badly, project managers have been known to turn gray and take to hard drink. The trouble is that project organization is the only feasible way to accomplish certain goals. It is literally not possible to design and build a major weapon system, for example, in a timely and economically acceptable manner, except by project organization. The stronger the emphasis on achievement of results in an organization, the more likely it will be to adopt some form of project management. The stake or risks in using project management may be high, but no more so than in any other form of management. And for projects, it is less so. Tough as it may be, it is all we have— and it works!

All in all, the life of a project manager is exciting, rewarding, at times frustrating, and tends to be at the center of things in most organizations. Project management is now being recognized as a "career path" in a growing number of firms, particularly those conducting projects with lives extending more than a year or two. In such organizations, project managers may have to function for several years, and it is important to provide promotion potential for them. It is also common for large firms to put their more promising young managers through a "tour of duty" during which they manage one or more projects (or parts of projects). This serves as a good test of the aspiring manager's ability to coordinate and manage complex tasks and to achieve results in a politically challenging environment where negotiation skills are required.

ntgement in Practice

The first of the Prudhoe Bay. Alaska, oil production facilities was successfully completed nine months ahead of schedule and $600 million under budget through the use of special project management techniques. Endicott field contains approximately 350 million barrels of recoverable oil. The billion-dollar-plus production facility was developed and is operated by Standard Alaska Production Company on behalf of a consortium of oil companies.

Source. P. F. Flones, "Endicott Oil Field," Project Management tournai. December 1987.

Source. P. F. Flones, "Endicott Oil Field," Project Management tournai. December 1987.

Endicott oil field map—located on the north shore of Alaska.

The Endicott field in Prudhoe Bay is located offshore where the ocean is frozen to depths of six feet for eight months of the year when the temperature ranges from -20 to -50 degrees Fahrenheit. To build facilities in this remote and extremely harsh environment, the project team conceived the idea of constructing the oil processing facilities inside large, barge-transportable, heated modules resembling large buildings. These modules were built in Louisiana and then transported via barges through the Panama Canal along the west coast of the United States to north Alaska. The shipping was scheduled to arrive at the north coast of Alaska in late July, just as the ice in the Arctic Ocean is breaking up, leaving them just enough time—4-6 weeks— to reach Endicott, be off-loaded, and return prior to the September refreeze.

The great diversity of design and construction abilities needed—roads, camps, power generation, communication, warehouses, pipelines, oil-gas separation facili ties—required developing a unique contracting philosophy. The result was to split the work into discrete work packages that best matched the skills of various engineering and construction companies, avoiding unnecessary coordination and interface problems whenever possible. The project proceeded in two stages: first, a construction camp that would house 600 people was built. Then the processing facilities and support systems were constructed. Since the design of the processing facilities required 1.8 million engineering hours taking two and a half years, the processing facilities had to be constructed concurrently with their design in order to complete the project in time. The facility required the construction of two manufactured gravel islands connected by a three-mile long causeway, all requiring mining, hauling, and placing of 6.3 million yards of gravel. These islands provide a stable surface for the drilling, production, and construction facilities. The larger, 45-acre island will support the drilling

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Project Management Made Easy

Project Management Made Easy

What you need to know about… Project Management Made Easy! Project management consists of more than just a large building project and can encompass small projects as well. No matter what the size of your project, you need to have some sort of project management. How you manage your project has everything to do with its outcome.

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