You are on page 1of 6

Question

“Companies performing projects generally subdivide their projects into several project
phases to provide better management control.” Discuss this statement, outlining the
project phases/stages and drawing on a project with which you are familiar, highlight the
main strategies and techniques used at each phase/stage to overcome challenges/problems
and provide better management control. Which phase do you view most important and
why.

Answer

Clements and Gido define a project as ”…an endeavour to accomplish specific objectives
through a unique set of inter-related tasks and the effective utilization of resources.”
Every project requires careful planning to ensure that it is delivered in a timely, cost-
effective and professional manner. Therefore, the various stages it goes through in its
lifetime, namely: Initiation, Planning, Implementation or Execution and Closure along
with the project management tools used assure its success or premature termination.
Kerzner (1998) says that, ‘project management involves the use of special management
techniques with the purpose of obtaining better control and the use of existing resources.’
Consequently, to accomplish a project goals and objectives at the different project cycle
phases, diverse project management tools are incorporated to ensure the overall success
of the project. This essay would therefore emphasize the various project management
tools used and challenges experienced at the different project cycle phases with respect to
a project to improve the infrastructure of the existing kerbwall, slipper drain and footpath
at Gallus Street, Woodbrook.

This project was brought to the attention of the Corporation by its Area Representative, in
September 2008. She believed that the damage to that thoroughfare presented a hazard to
the burgesses of the area. After an investigation by the City Engineer the decision was
taken to improve the infrastructure. It is important to note that all projects undertaken
under the Development Programme and Recurrent Work must be budgeted for in the
Draft Estimates of Expenditure under the relevant Vote/Head/Programme for the fiscal
year in which it is to be undertaken, so that funds can be made available by the Ministry
of Finance through the Ministry of Local Government. The project along Gallus Street
was expected to last for two (2) months, (February to March 2009), at an estimated cost
of three hundred and fifty-eight thousand dollars ($358,000.00) inclusive of a ten percent
contingency to cover any risk factor that may arise.

Initiation or Conceptualization is the first phase of any project. It identifies the project,
defines the scope and content of the project and the approach to be taken to deliver the
desired outputs. A Project Charter is then developed. It details the problem and defines
the parameters within which the project must be delivered. It lists the objectives to be
achieved, project budget and the success rate of completing the project
feasibility and the risks involved in completing the project. It is the most challenging part
of any project as the project manager conducts an analysis of the problem and submits a
detailed report to management for justification. The role of the project manager is critical.
He or she must be able to coordinate changing activities, resolve conflicts, and keep
management informed and committed to the project -- while also keeping the project on
track.

With respect to the project at Gallus Street, the project manager, who in this case was the
Work Supervisor 111, thoroughly investigated the need of the burgesses for an improved
kerbwall, slipper drain and footpath. After conducting a feasibility study, he developed a
Project Charter that defined the vision and boundaries for the project. It provided
detailed information with respect to the estimated need of financial and human resources,
based on experience from projects previously carried out in the area, a work breakdown
schedule (WBS), a scope of work, an estimation of the critical path necessary and a risk
assessment taking into consideration contingencies for risk factors that may occur.
Further, the effectiveness of the project team, governed by the abilities of its project
manager, ensures that the project successfully accomplishes its objectives in relation to
its scope, cost, time and customer satisfaction.

Once senior management analyzes the report of the project manager, taking into
consideration the needs of the burgesses, a decision is then taken with respect to whether
or not the project should move on to the next stage. Thus, the initiation phase was
completed the Planning and Development phase begun. The plans created during this
phase will help in managing time, cost, quality, work tasks, schedules and budgets. This
phase includes a detailed project plan, an accurate budget, risk analysis and a more
thorough WBS, Gantt chart and Critical Path Guide. The Critical Path Analysis details
the tasks to be performed, and the relative importance of tasks. While the Gantt chart
showed the blocks of activities undertaken over time and at a given cost. Therefore the
Project Manager is aptly prepared with a clearly defined project roadmap for success.
Ultimately, the detailed Project Plan guided the project team through all task performed
from the beginning to the end of the project.

The Project Manager then called a meeting to set the guidelines for project timelines,
costs, risks, resources, quality and other constraints also informing his team that at each
phase of the project there would be constant monitoring to ensure that the achievements
of the projects goals are on target. The project was then broken down into a more
detailed structure – Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) and Gantt chart. At this stage the
Project Manager had also procured the items needed and ensured that others were
identified and easily accessible. In addition, such risk factors as pilferage of material,
traffic and rainfall were considered. The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) then reviewed
the Project Plan. After a thorough analysis and consultations with the burgesses’ the
CEO together with the Project Manager made a decision to move the project to the next
phase.

The Implementation or Execution phase of any project is important as it ensures that all
activities are properly executed and controlled. During the execution of the project,
emphasis should be placed on communication in order to make decisions as quickly as
possible if problems arise. The project manager must ensure that his team members are
truly committed to the deliverance of the required tasks which results in the ultimate
customer satisfaction once the project is completed within budget, on time and is of an
acceptable level of quality. Consequently there are a number of factors that influence the
success or failure of projects.
To guarantee the success of the Gallus Street Project, the Project Manager informed his
team members of the organizations goals. It was an in house project that was conducted
on a phased basis and incorporated resources of the Corporation. Risks would have been
identified and categorized and in some cases eliminated through the use of casual
workers on the Daily Paid Establishment. The Project Manager constantly monitored and
evaluated the progress of the projects various tasks as relates to time and costs, ensuring
that any changes to the scope of the project was reflected in the project plan.

Closure or termination is the final phase of any project life cycle. At this phase the
Project Manager must ensure that the project is brought to its proper completion,
approved and ultimately accepted by the relevant stakeholders. The Closure is
emphasized when the Project Manager develops this "Lessons Learned" document,
releases project resources, receives a formal acceptance form the stakeholders and
presents the City Engineer with a formal project closure notification. All documentation
and records are reviewed, organized and archived.

In the case of the Gallus Street project it was terminated when the construction of the
footpath, kerbwall and slipper drain was completed within budget and of a high standard
to the satisfaction of the burgesses of the area, but there was one main challenge. The
time between when the matter was reported to the Corporation and when the work was
actually done was an undue long period. The Corporation as with most public sector
agencies is still guided by Weber’s bureaucratic rules and regulations and ultimately is
covered in red tape. This usually results in matters taking longer than necessary to get
attention. Therefore, even though the project was formally closed when all administrative
matters were handed over to the City Engineer by the Project Manager and the site was
officially handed over to the burgesses of Gallus Street, Woodbrook it could have
occurred earlier. Ultimately, the most successful project is the ones that satisfy all
stakeholders and the project at Gallus Street as confirmed by the burgesses was
completed to the satisfaction of all stakeholders.
The most important phase in any project cycle is the Initiation or Conceptualization
phase. Its purpose is to Identify, Scope and Gain Initial Approval for a project that will
deliver a tangible benefit. At this stage the problem is identified, alternative solutions
listed and a cost / benefit analysis undertaken. A Feasibility Study is also done to
determine whether the alternative solutions identified are likely to satisfy the
requirements of the customer. Further, a Project Charter is prepared describing in detail
the Project Vision, Objectives, Scope, Deliverables, Stakeholders, Roles, Responsibilities
and Implementation Plans. A detailed Project Charter is a critical part of any project. It
assists the Project Manager assigned and gives a detailed job description as relates to his
role in the completion of a successful project. Finally, the Initiation Phase needs to
review the performance of the project to date. It assesses the current status of the Project
Schedule, Expenses, Staffing, Deliverables, Risks and Issues of the project. In the final
assessment it determines whether the project should continue or be terminated.

Projects have a life cycle. They are born from an idea, develop into a finished product
and are then terminated. As a project moves through this process, the project manager
and senior management should continually monitor the project's critical success factors to
ensure it is still viable. Although terminating a project is inevitable, the timing and
planning of this termination can affect future projects and possibly the entire
organization. Just as successful projects can have a positive impact on the organization,
unsuccessful projects can have the opposite effect (Stevens, 1992). Lastly, the final report
is the opportunity to reflect on the project -- to document its successes and shortcomings
and make recommendations for the future.