By Arun Kumar Arya
A project is a temporary endeavor undertaken to create a unique product, service, or result. Across generations, throughout history many projects has been successfully undertaken.
A project can be seen as a dynamic system changing in its different stages of life cycles. From small projects of low investment of low risk to mega projects of huge financial investment with high risks are being successfully implemented. The complexity of projects are now increased due to huge capital investments, tight project schedules, stringent quality & safety norms involved in. An absolute commitment is essential in a project from conception to commission.
During its life cycle, a project goes through following phases.
4. Execution & Control
Conception phase involves conceptualization and validating business case. A project charter is prepared then after which defines the scope, objectives & participants in the project. This document contains information of reasons and objectives of project, scope of projects, target profits, budgetary information, stakeholder details & plans to face risks involved.
Plan phase of a project forms a schedule to deliver the project. Project manager prepares a project management plan with discussion and inputs provided by project team & stakeholders. Planning to deploy resources, various activities & their schedule is prepared. This plan provides a base for project team in execution phase. Flow of manpower, machinery, material, money are planned.
Organization phase of project may also be treated as a part of Planning. In this phase material procurement, contractors & vendor finalization are done. Prior to mobilize the project site resources are organized.
Execute & Control Phase is the time to bring the plans into action on ground. Project execution team execute the activities as per prepared plan. Project site roars by the machines, equipments, manpower. Various teams of different functions execute in coordination with other teams. This is longest duration phase of the project. Project team face and resolves various unforeseen challenges during this cycle. Controlling is done to maintain the project quality and safety. Various quality & safety issues are faced in this cycle.
Commission Phase: Once the project is complete, project commissioning moves into the final stage with a rigorous check and investigation of all the systems in the project to see if they function properly. Trials are done, services are checked. The main objective of commissioning is to effect the safe and orderly handover of the unit from the constructor to the owner, guaranteeing its operability in terms of performance, reliability, safety and information traceability.
During all these phases of project, a high level of commitment & dedication is required to make it a success.
Here I would like to attract the attention of readers towards the issues which needs to be addressed properly with care during the life cycle of a project. Although the project concept originates through the minds, it needs a realistic, practical, problem solving, can do approach to make it happen.
While conception phase, project concept should be discussed among stakeholders with open minds. A flexible approach can be opted if any issues are raised in against. It is always better to conduct a preliminary survey to know the product demand in market. A product which is not durable, economic, realistic, may get proved wrong in a long run. Capital investments, scope and return benefits of project should be well discussed, understood and accepted.
Planning phase works as a bone of project. Planning should be done after a thorough discussion with project teams of different functional streams & stakeholders and not in isolation. A realistic practical work schedule should be prepared in consultation & should be acceptable to all. Resources like manpower, machinery, materials is planned and allocated. This phase include all the activities necessary for the project office to establish the project staffing, project infrastructure and stakeholder accountability, along with all the project management plans, including the appropriate levels of pre-planning documentation for the follow-on phases.
Various plans like project plan, procurement plan, resources plan, Risk management plan, Quality & safety plan, Communication plans are prepared.
Project Management Plans should be reviewed and updated as needed at the end of each project phase. Plans should be revised and improved upon consistently throughout the project. Stakeholders must be informed about the progress of the Project Planning Phase. Sometimes people do not take interest in a project until it is in the Execution Phase and the importance of good planning gets defeated.
Early stakeholder involvement is needed during Planning Phase because changes made later in the project will have a greater cost and will become more difficult.
The Execution & control phase, a longest one, consumes the most energy and the most resources. Project team may be encountered with unanticipated events and situations, which they have to deal with. Project team should be equipped with sufficient manpower and resources to run the project site. They should be given authority to take site decisions. Sometimes the project owners do not bother about the work load of project team & leaves all responsibility to their head. This ultimately results a compromise on execution part. Without resources, project team is helpless and can not be proved responsible.
‘Control’ as an integral part of project management, should be performed by a team different from the project execution team, so as to independently verify the quality and the efficacy of the work done.
In commission phase the checklists are prepared, trials are done, services are checked. Any fault if found, is checked and rectified. While commissioning of project, operation team can be involved and trained. All Checklists, corrections should be recorded for future references. All documents including working drawings & material & equipment specifications, work manuals, guarantee certificates etc. should be handed over & should be kept safe for future reference.
[Cartoon: Facebook Post)
[Arun Kumar Arya is an B.E (Civil), M.Tech (Foundation Engineering), PGPCM, MIE. He is presently working with a leading steel company in India, and has vast working experience in various industrial construction projects. He is also associated with various technical bodies & institutions]