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Project management

Here you will find answers to the following questions:

  • What are the forms of project organisation?
  • How are projects executed?
  • What aids are available?
  • What is the project manager's role?

There is no directive that demands that GMP projects be processed in accordance with a particular organisational system. However, practice shows that the project management methods described below contribute to the successful execution of even extensive projects.

19.A.1 Definition of project and project management

According to DIN standard 69 901, a project is a plan which is essentially characterised by the uniqueness of its conditions as a whole, such as:

  • Objectives
  • Time, financial or personell constraints of the resources or other constraints
  • Delimitation vis-Ю-vis other plans
  • Project-specific organisation

Project management, then, according to DIN standard 69 901, is all the management tasks, organisations, techniques and means used both for the processing of all projects and for the processing of an individual project.

Project management only works in the company if the following requirements are fulfilled:

  • The project is actually a unique plan (in accordance with DIN)
  • Processing of projects in the company is defined in guidelines or instruction manuals (organisational design, procedural framework, authority to make decisions and authority to instruct, interfaces between the line and the project)
  • Aids, tools and methods are available
  • All persons involved both in the project and in the line are trained or informed.

19.A.2 Project sequence

19.A.2.1 Project planning

The uniqueness of the project task requires that the processing at the start of the project be planned very accurately, as no reference can be made to any routine processes, and a large number of people have to achieve a collective target.

Therefore, the first step is to compile a rough description of the project:

  • Description of the objective in terms of content
  • Time frame
  • Budget and
  • Resource scheduling

Secondly, the interim results are defined, which are to be achieved in the course of the project (usually designated as milestones). Work packages are derived from this (in man days (MD)).

Through this more detailed planning, the necessary resource scheduling (money, staff, equipment) can also be planned in more detail.

In the third step, the work packages to the next milestone are planned in detail (work packages in hours). The period to the next milestone is manageable and detailed planning of the project sequence is advisable. Planning also always includes the question of which problems (e.g. resource conflicts) could occur and if they can be prevented in this early project phase?

19.A.2.2 Project controlling

In the course of the project, the planning data are reviewed during execution of the project and, above all, at the milestone deadlines. In this way, deviations can be determined in good time. Based on these, it is possible to make controlling interventions and to establish consequences for the further project processing. Without this review of the actual status during the project, deviations, e.g. in costs, are only ascertained if the objective in terms of content is achieved or not achieved.

In sports competitions it goes without saying that interim results and half time results are taken into account in order to figure out the consequences for the rest of the match or the competition.

19.A.2.3 Project conclusion

When the project is concluded, the project result is summarised and evaluated. This task is often neglected in practice, as new tasks are already at hand. However, this means a missed opportunity to learn lessons from a previous project and apply them to new projects.

19.A.3 Project organisational structure

A distinction is made between three types of project organisational structure for implementing project management in the company:

Pure project management

For very large, extensive projects, a project organisation that is independent of the company workflows is established. All project employees apply 100% of their capacity to work on this project. As back-up, experts from the company can be called in from time to time. A typical example for such a project is the planning of a new site or the new building of a manufacturing plant with high investment volumes. For the persons involved in the project, reintegration in the company after conclusion of the project is often problematic. In sport, this would be a professional football team whose main task is to play football.

Matrix project management

Matrix project management is the most frequently used organisational form. In an existing line management organisation, project organisation is established at right angles to this, intersecting each line:

Figure 19.A-1 Matrix project organisation

Link to 19.A-1.jpg

The project manager collaborates with staff from different specialist departments, who work on the project for a defined proportion of their working time (sometimes up to 100%). With this type of organisational structure, it is important to define the responsibilities and authorities of project managers and line executives, as competence problems often occur at this interface. In such a dispute, it is convenient if a "project mentor" (a higher ranking executive) is available to act as arbitrator.

In contrast to the professional team, these are amateurs whose sports activity is always in competition with their work commitments.

Influence project management

In this type of organisation, a project manager is appointed who ensures that a defined task is processed in certain specialist departments and that the work between the departments is coordinated without the employees concerned being released from the line.

The project manager in this case corresponds to the coach of an amateur team, although in many companies, as in sport, he usually plays in the team too due to capacity issues.

19.A.3.1 Project manager

As in the classical organisational structure where the line manager is given the most important role, so too is the project manager given the most important role in the project organisation. For this task, the project manager usually also requires different skills than an executive at the same level, for:

  • As a project, by definition, is unique, the project manager must find and take a "new path" to fulfil the task each time.
  • For each project, the "team" is newly established. Often external employees are also involved. With these employees in particular, it is necessary to ensure that the performance they are being paid for is also delivered.
  • In addition to the specialist tasks, the resource conflicts with the line must also be solved In the matrix organisation.

    Figure 19.A-2 Requirements of the project manager

    Requirements of the project manager

    • Management and negotiation skills
    • Knowledge of the company workflows
    • Ability to take the initiative
    • Specialist knowledge of the main focus of the project
    • Ability to lead and motivate a team

In addition to a good technical basis (the project manager need not necessarily be a technical expert, as often other employees are responsible for this), the most important thing is the social competence to be able to solve conflicts through discussion and new procedures and to be able to bring about decisions.

19.A.3.2 Project team

Ideally, the project team is set up by the project manager in collaboration with the specialist departments. In practice, however, the team members are usually determined by the specialist departments and sent to the project team with a certain capacity and the responsibility of representing the specialist department. In this case project work is efficient if project members are able to make decisions largely independently of the specialist departments, even for decisions that have an influence on the specialist department.

As a new project team is set up for the project task, those involved must first learn to work together. There are four phases of team building:

  • Familiarisation phase (expectant observation)
  • Conflict phase (definition of the social order in the group, important role of the project manager)
  • Organisation phase (sense of belonging to the group develops)
  • Work phase (recognition: objective can only be achieved together)

19.A.3.3 Steering team

Above all with larger, strategically important projects, a steering team is often still set up, which consists of executives from the line. This team only meets every two months. The project manager reports to this team on the progress of the project and the deviations from plan. Any problems that occur are discussed and the further "direction" is established.

19.A.4 Project phases

19.A.4.1 Project start

The start phase of a project is often a protracted process. The project task is identified and roughly defined in the line organisation, a project manager is sought, a project team is set up and the project objective specified, at which point the starting signal can be given.

The first task in the team is to clarify technical questions and check the planning documents for completeness and give full particulars in relation to the team:

  • Check schedule, budget and resource plan, revise if necessary
  • Define work packages for the individual team members,
  • Define organisation of the teamwork (project meetings with minutes)
  • Project documentation and reporting (information from the line manager)

19.A.4.2 Project implementation

Depending on the type of project, different milestones are defined so that deviations from the plan can be counteracted in good time: e.g. for a production facility:

  • Project start
  • User requirements
  • Technical specification
  • Design qualification (DQ)
  • Installation qualification (IQ)
  • Operational qualification (OQ)
  • Performance qualification (PQ)
  • Process validation
  • Production

At the end of each phase, a specific interim result should be achieved in terms of content. The costs and resources consumed are compiled. The objectives and estimates for the individual milestones and to the end of the project are redefined. Controlling measures are derived from this, e.g.

  • Request increase in project budget
  • Request more resources or make recourse to external resources
  • Adjust the project deadlines, e.g. the market launch deadline

All these controlling measures are usually difficult to implement. However, it makes no sense to bury your head in the sand and hope for a miracle. If you do this, there will be even greater damage at the end of the project than if you ask for support in the early stages and clarify any problems that occur. The sooner problems are identified in the course of the project, the greater the chance of solving them by the end of the project.

Here's another example from the world of sport: With a score of 5:7 in the first set in tennis, the game is not yet lost and it still makes sense to change tactics. With a score of 5:7, 4:6 and 4:5, this is of course still possible, but the prospects of success are much lower.

19.A.4.3 Project conclusion

Project conclusion analysis is recommended for all those involved for the purpose of continuous improvement. Here, a last target/actual comparison of the "hard" data is carried out in a project conclusion meeting and the "soft" data, the assessment of the project by the employees, is compiled. The following questions are key here: What went well? What could be improved on in the next project? Based on the results of the analyses of many projects, the project organisation can be adapted, aids can be improved and workflows can be optimised.

19.A.5 Aids

Project controlling, i.e. early intervention if project parameters do not reach required values, is only possible if these required values have been defined and if actual values are recorded, so that deviations can be ascertained.

The following aids are available for planning and control:

Project structure plan

The content of a project is divided up in the project structure plan so that all aspects are covered during processing:

e.g. for a new-build project, the starting structure could be as follows: building shell, infrastructure, facilities, computer systems.

Then the building shell is further subdivided into the individual rooms, etc.

This systematic procedure prevents important aspects of the project plan from being disregarded.

Schedule

This plan is based on the project structure plan. Rough planning takes place for the entire project, the times of milestones are defined and important, time-critical deadlines, such as a trade fair, are recorded. Depending on the scope of the project, the schedule can be compiled in the form of a bar chart using a computer-assisted project management system or manually (e.g. with Excel).

It is important that the dependencies between the operations are also taken into account (a truss can only be built if the external walls of a building shell are already standing) and the processes are assigned to responsible persons. If nobody is responsible for compliance with a deadline and it is not clear to those involved that certain tasks are to be completed before others can be started, then the schedule is not worth the time taken to compile it.

Resource plan

This plan is closely related to the schedule. For planned activities, certain resources are required in a certain timeframe in order to be able to meet the deadlines. As unlimited resources are not generally available - above all from the experts - the project manager must ensure a continuous optimisation process to comply with the deadlines using the available resources, even if there are changes in the course of the project.

Budget

The budget includes the project costs and the investments that are made as part of the project, and possibly also the manufacturing costs of a product, which are regularly determined during a development project.

The project costs consist of the personnel and materials costs.

Project report and documentation

As many departments are directly involved in the project, especially in the matrix organisation, regular reports on the status of the project are necessary and changes that are required in the course of the project must be communicated. The management also expects information on the status of a project. Thus, it is usual that a written project report is compiled by the project manager at least at the time of the milestones (figure 19.A-3).

Figure 19.A-3 Project status report at milestone  

Project status report at milestone (MS) "Number"

Have the technical objectives been achieved?

o Yes

o Partly

o No

If partly or no:
Why not, what are the critical points, what problems occurred?

Can these problems be controlled or solved?

Have the deadline targets been achieved?

o Yes

o Partly

o No

If partly or no:
Why not, can the final deadline still be achieved, is "rescheduling" necessary?

Have the cost targets (planning costs, tool costs, etc.) been achieved?

o Yes

o Partly

o No

If partly or no:
Why not, can a long-term trend be anticipated? Is re-budgeting necessary?

Target-Actual data comparison

 

Target at MS

Actual at MS

Resources

   

Costs (planning costs, etc.)

   

Deadlines

   

What changes to the planning data are necessary?

Technical targets

Agreement of the customer necessary?

Deadline targets

Deviation in %

Cost targets

Deviation in %

What still has to be changed? Are there any other problems?

Project instruction manual

All the above-mentioned aids are available in theory, but often cannot be used by the project manager in practice. It is therefore advisable to compile a project instruction manual in which important aspects of project management are regulated across the company and the above-mentioned aids are implemented as forms for the everyday project work.

  • Definition of the competencies between the project manager and the line (table of who does what)
  • Forms for project definition
  • Forms for expenditure planning, scheduling, budgeting
  • Forms for milestone reports
  • Form for project conclusion report
  • Structure for project documentation (user requirements, technical specification, etc.)

19.A.6 Multi-project organisation

In most companies, several projects run at the same time and it is necessary to create structures for this scenario too.

19.A.6.1 Project classes

For very large, ongoing projects, it is advisable to create more sophisticated structures than for medium-sized and small projects.

The type of project is another classification. Production projects are processed according to a different structure than development projects.

19.A.6.2 Project priorities

As resource bottlenecks occur in every company, it is necessary to prioritise the projects. All decision-makers and project employees must know which work packages have to be processed first. The project priorities usually lead to projects with a lower priority being left alone until they are either no longer needed or are given a higher priority.

19.A.6.3 Management information

The work of the project employees and the management is much easier if, for the project reports that have to be compiled, there are forms available in which, or according to the structure of which, the project reports are compiled at the milestones. For the management, the great advantage here is that specific data on a project can be found at the same place in each report and thus a certain comparability between similar projects is possible.

19.A.7 Frequently occurring problems in the context
of project management

Project management only works in practice if the management supports this form of work organisation and if certain rules are complied with. Below are some examples that cause projects to fail:

  • The project definition is not clearly and uniquely formulated ® The task is "gradually" changed or changes in the course of the project, so that no target/actual comparison is possible any more during controlling, as the planning data was compiled under different requirements than in the actual data record. ® exact target definition required
  • The project manager is "the" expert and therefore also mostly undertakes specialist processing ® The project manager's activity, such as coordination of tasks, project planning and controlling cannot/is not undertaken correctly. ® Limitation of the project manager's specialist tasks
  • The project employees are formally assigned to the project, but have no resources available ® The conflict with the line can only be solved via corresponding management decisions
  • The course of the project is not correctly documented, therefore no project changes can be traced and deviations from the plan cannot be explained ® Define a reporting and documentation structure
  • Specialist departments guarantee punctual completion of a work package shortly before the submission deadline, but then cannot meet the deadline ® The specialist department must be shown the impact of this for the entire project. Management should intervene if this occurs frequently.

Finally, it can be said that project management is a very good form of organisation for processing complex "one-off" interdepartmental tasks, as all those concerned are involved from an early stage and risks can be covered that much earlier.

Summary

Project management is a good form of organisation for "one-off, interdepartmental" tasks, which only works if it is desired by the management and if the employees are provided with the necessary structures and resources.



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