Initial Project Coordination

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Outside Clients

When the project is to deliver a product/service (often referred to as the project's deliverables) to an outside client, the fundamental planning process is unchanged except for the fact that the specifications cannot be altered without the client's permission. A common "planning" problem in these cases is that marketing has promised deliverables that engineering may not know how to produce on a schedule that manufacturing may be unable to meet. This sort of problem usually results when the various functional areas are not involved in the planning process at the time the original proposal is made to the potential client.

Two objections to such early participation by engineering and manufacturing , are likely to be raised by marketing. First, the sales arm of the organization is trained to sell and is expected to be fully conversant with all technical aspects of the firm's products/services. Further, salespeople are expected to be knowledgeable about design and manufacturing lead times and schedules. On the other hand, it is widely assumed by marketing (with some justice on occasion) that manufacturing and design engineers do not understand sales techniques, will be argumentative and/or pessimistic about client needs in the presence of the client, and are generally not "housebroken" when customers are nearby. Second, it is expensive to involve so much technical talent so early in the sales process—typically, prior to issuing a proposal. It can easily cost a firm more than $10,000 to send five technical specialists on a trip to consider a potential client's needs. The willingness to accept higher sales costs puts even more emphasis on the selection process.

The rejoinder to such objections is simple. It is usually cheaper, faster, and easier to do things right the first time than to redo them. When the product/service is a complex system that must be installed in a larger, more complex system, it is appropriate to treat the sale like a project. The sale is a project and deserves the same kind of planning. A great many firms that consistently operate in an atmosphere typified by design and manufacturing crises have created their own panics. (Software producers and computer system salespeople take note!) In fairness, it is appropriate to urge that anyone meeting customers face to face should receive some training in the tactics of selling.

Project Plan Elements

Given the project plan, approvals really amount to a series of authorizations. The PM is authorized to direct activities, spend monies (usually within preset limits) request resources and personnel, and start the project on its way. Senior management's approval not only signals its willingness to fund and support the project, but also notifies subunits in the organization that they may commit resources to the project.

The process of developing the project plan varies from organization to organization, but any project plan must contain the following elements:

• Overview This is a short summary of the objectives and scope of the project. It is directed to top management and contains a statement of the goals of the project, a brief explanation of their relationship to the firm's objec tives, a description of the managerial structure that will be used for the project, and a list of the major milestones in the project schedule.

, Objectives This contains a more detailed statement of the general goals noted in the overview section. The statement should include profit and competitive aims as well as technical goals.

. General Approach This section describes both the managerial and the technical approaches to the work. The technical discussion describes the relationship of the project to available technologies. For example, it might note that this project is an extension of work done by the company for an earlier project. The subsection on the managerial approach takes note of any deviation from routine procedure—for instance, the use of subcontractors for some parts of the work.

. Contractual Aspects This critical section of the plan includes a complete list and description of all reporting requirements, customer-supplied resources, liaison arrangements, advisory committees, project review and cancellation procedures, proprietary requirements, any specific management agreements (e.g., use of subcontractors), as well as the technical deliverables and their specifications, delivery schedules, and a specific procedure for changing any of the above. (Project change orders will be discussed in Chapter 11.) Completeness is a necessity in this section. If in doubt about whether an item should be included or not, the wise planner will include it.

. Schedules This section outlines the various schedules and lists all milestone events. The estimated time for each task should be obtained from those who will do the work. The project master schedule is constructed from these inputs. The responsible person or department head should sign off on the final, agreed-on schedule.

. Resources There are two primary aspects to this section. The first is the budget. Both capital and expense requirements are detailed by task, which makes this a project budget (discussed further in Chapter 7). One-time costs are separated from recurring project costs. Second, cost monitoring and control procedures should be described. In addition to the usual routine elements, the monitoring and control procedures must be designed to cover_ special resource requirements for the project, such as special machines, test equipment, laboratory usage or construction, logistics, field facilities,; and special materials.

# Personnel This section lists the expected personnel requirements of the . project. Special skills, types of training needed, possible recruiting prob-( lems, legal or policy restrictions on work force composition, and any other special requirements, such as security clearances, should be noted here (This reference to "security" includes the need to protect trade secrets and research targets from competitors as well as the need to protect the na-, tional security.) It is helpful to time-phase personnel needs to the project schedule. This makes clear when the various types of contributors are needed and in what numbers. These projections are an important element >t of the budget, so the personnel, schedule, and resources sections can be^ cross-checked with one another to ensure consistency.

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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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