LEARNING OBJECTIVES Performing, or doing, the project implementing the proposed solution– is the third phase of the project life cycle. This phase starts after a contract or agreement is drawn up between the customer and the contractor or project team, and it ends when the project objective is accomplished.
The fourth and final phase of the project life cycle involves terminating the project. You will become familiar with: - the elements involved in establishing a project plan; - the steps in the project control process; - actions that should be taken when a project is terminated.
PLANNING THE PROJECT The third phase of the project life cycle has two parts – doing the detailed planning for the project and then implementing that to accomplish the project objective. It is important to plan the work, then work the plan. The planning part involves taking the plan, schedule, and budget in the proposal to much greater detail.
Detailed planning involves: 1.Clearly define the project objective. The definition must be agreed upon by the customer and the individual or organization who will perform the project. 2.Divide and subdivide the project scope into major pieces, or work packages. A work breakdown structure is a hierarchical tree of work elements. The work breakdown structure usually identifies the organization or individual for each work package.
3.Define the specific activities that need to be performed for each work package in order to accomplish the project objective. 4.Graphically portray the activities in the form of a network diagram. This diagram shows the necessary sequence and interdependencies of activities to achieve the project objective. 5.Make a time estimate for how long it will take to complete each activity. It is also necessary to determine the types of resources and how many of each resource are needed for each activity to be completed within the estimated duration.
6.Make a cost estimate for each activity. The cost is based on the types and quantities of resources required for each activity. 7.Calculate a project schedule and budget to determine whether the project can be accomplished within the required time, with the allotted funds, and with the available resources. Planning determines what needs to be done, who will do it, how long it will take, and how much it will cost. The result of this effort is a baseline plan.
PERFORMING THE PROJECT Once the baseline plan has been developed, project work can proceed. The project team, led by the project manager, will implement the plan and perform the activities, or work elements, in accordance with the plan. For a projects to put on a town festival, the major work elements might include the following:
1.Preparing promotions – newspaper advertisement, posters, tickets, and so forth. 2.Selecting volunteers. 3.Organizing games, including constructing booths and acquiring prizes. 4.Contracting for amusement rides and obtaining the necessary permits. 5.Identifying performers to entertain and constructing the grandstand stage. 6.Arranging for food, including making the food and building concession stands. 7.Organizing all the support services, such as parking, security, clean-up.
CONTROLLING THE PROJECT While the project work is being performed, it is necessary to monitor progress to ensure that everything is going according to plan. This involves measuring actual progress and comparing it to planned progress. Before a decision is made to implement corrective action, it may be necessary to evaluate several alternative actions to make sure the corrective action will bring the project back within the scope, time, and budget constraints of the objective.
The key to effective project control is measuring actual progress and comparing it to planned progress on a timely and regular basis and taking corrective action immediately, if necessary. The project control process involves regularly gathering data on project performance, comparing actual performance to planned performance, and taking corrective actions if actual performance is behind planned performance.
Figure illustrates the steps in the project control process. A regular reporting period should be established for comparing actual progress with planned progress. Reporting may be daily, weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly, depending on the complexity or overall duration of the project. During each reporting period two kinds of data or information need to be collected:
1.Data on actual performance. This includes - the actual time that activities were started and/or finished - the actual costs expended and committed. 2.Information on any changes to the project scope, schedule, and budget.These changes could be initiated by the customer or the project team, or they could be the result of an unanticipated occurrence such as a natural disaster, a labor strike, or the resignation of a key project team member.
It is crucial that the data and information discussed above be collected in a timely manner and used to calculate an updated project schedule and budget. Once an updated schedule and budget have been calculated, they need to be compared to the baseline schedule and budget and analyzed for variances to determine whether the project is ahead of or behind schedule and under or over budget.
The project control process continues throughout the project phase of the life cycle. In general, the shorter the reporting period, the better the chances of identifying problems early taking effective corrective actions. Project management is a proactive approach to controlling a project, to ensure that the project objective is achieved even when things dont go according to plan.
Continue This third phase of the life cycle ends when the customer is satisfied that the requirements have been met and the project objective has been accomplished.
TERMINATING THE PROJECT The fourth and final phase of the project life cycle is terminating the project. It starts after the project work has been completed and includes various actions to properly close out the project. The purpose of properly terminating a project is to learn from the experience gained on the project in order to improve performance on future projects.
The activities associated with terminating the project should be identified and included in the projects baseline plan-they should not be done merely as spontaneous afterthoughts The termination phase starts when performance of the project is completed and the result is accepted by the customer. When a contractor completes a project for a customer, the contractor must verify that all the agreed-on deliverables were, in fact, provided.
Another activity that must be performed during the termination phase is assuring that all payments have been collected from the customer. During the project termination phase, the project manager should prepare a written performance evaluation of each member of the project team and mention how each has expanded her or his knowledge as a result of the project assignment. Another activity is holding post-project evaluation meetings.
INTERNAL POST-PROJECT EVALUATION Internally, there should be two types of meetings:individual meetings with team members and a group meeting with the project team. The project manager should have an individual meeting with each of the team members.
These meetings allow team members to give their personal impressions of performance of the project and what could be done better on future projects. With this information, the project manager can then develop an agenda for a group meeting with the entire project team. At the group meeting with the project team, the project manager should discuss what happened during performance of the project and identify specific recommendations for improvement.
Following are some topics that might be discussed under each of the agenda items: 1.Technical performance. How did the final scope of the work compare to the scope of the work at the start of the project? Were there many changes to the work scope?What impact did the changes have on project costs and schedule? 2.Cost performance. How did the final project costs compare with the original project budget and with the last project budget, which included any relevant changes in project scope? Were the cost estimates realistic?
3.Schedule performance. How did the actual project schedule compare with the original schedule? How was performance on the schedule associated with each work package? 4.Project planning and control. Was the project planned in sufficient detail? Was the planning and control system used on a regular basis by the project team? 5.Customer relationship.
Was every effort made to make the customer a participant in the success of the project?Was the customer informed of potential problems in a timely manner and asked to participate in the problem-solving process? 6.Team relationships. Was there a feeling of team and a commitment to the success of the project? Were there any conditions that impeded teamwork?
7.Communications. Was the project environment conducive to open, honest, and timely communications?Were project meetings productive? 8.Problem identification and resolution. Was problem solving done in a through, rational manner? 9.Recommendations. After the evaluation meeting, the project manager should issue a brief written report to management with a summary of project performance and the recommendations.
CUSTOMER FEEDBACK The purposes of this meeting should be to determine whether the project provided the customer with the anticipated benefits, to assess the level of customer satisfaction, and to obtain any feedback that would be helpful in future business relationships with this or other customers.
Ideally, the contractor should sit down with the customer and ask open-ended questions. This provides an opportunity for customers not only to express their level of satisfaction but also to provide detailed comments about the parts of the project with which they were satisfied or dissatisfied. If the customer is satisfied with the project, the contractor or organization that performed the project is presented with several opportunities.
First, the contractor should ask the customer about any other projects the contractor could do – perhaps without going through a competitive RFP process. Second, the contractor should ask permission to use the customer as a reference with potential customers. Another way to get feedback from the customer regarding satisfaction with the results of the project is through a post- project customer evaluation survey.(Fig.)
The project manager gives this survey form to the customer and, possibly, other project stakeholders to complete and return. When there are multiple customers or end users of the results of a project, it may be difficult to get feedback from them. For example, after a volunteer group organizes a week-long town festival, how does it get feedback from the people who attended about their level of satisfaction and their suggestions for improving next year event?
EARLY PROJECT TERMINATION There may be circumstances that require a project to be terminated before it is completed. Another circumstance that can cause a project to be terminated early is a change in a companys financial situation for example, if a companys sales are going down or if the company is acquired by another company.
Project also can be terminated by the customer because of dissatisfaction. Having a project terminated early by dissatisfied customer can really hurt a contractors business. One way to avoid early termination of a project due to customer dissatisfaction is to monitor the level of customer satisfaction continually throughout the project and take corrective action at the first hint of any dissatisfaction.