SPECIAL DEMANDS ON THE PROJECT MANAGER

SPECIAL DEMANDS ON THE PROJECT MANAGER.

A number of demands are unique to the management of projects, and the success of the PM depends to a large extent on how capably they are handled. These special demands can be categorized under the following headings. 

Acquiring Adequate Resources

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It was noted earlier that the resources initially budgeted for a project are frequently insufficient to the task. In part, this is due to the natural optimism of the project proposers about how much can be accomplished with relatively few resources. Sometimes, it is caused by a deliberate, unethical understatement of resource requirements to ensure that a project is accepted for funding. At times it is caused by the great uncertainty associated with a project. Many details of resource purchase and usage are deferred until the project manager knows specifically what resources will be required and when. For instance, there is no point in purchasing a centrifuge now if in nine months we will know exactly what type of centrifuge will be most useful. 

The good PM knows there are resource trade-offs that need to be taken into consideration. A skilled machinist can make do with unsophisticated machinery to construct needed parts, but a beginning machinist cannot. Subcontracting can make up for an inadequate number of computer programmers, but subcontractors will have to be carefully instructed in the needs of the contractor, which is costly and may cause delays. Crises occur that require special resources not usually provided to the project manager. 

All these problems produce glitches in the otherwise smooth progress of the project. To deal with these glitches, the PM must scramble, elicit ajd, work late, wheedle, threaten, or do whatever seems necessary to keep the project on schedule. On occasion, the additional required resources simply alter the project’s cost-benefit ratio to the point that the project is no longer cost-effective. Obviously, the PM attempts to avoid these situations, but some of what happens is beyond the PM’s control. 

Case #1-  Turning London’s Waste Dump into the 2012 Olympics Stadium

Back in 2006, the 2012 Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) chose a river-surrounded, 1-square-mile East London disposal site loaded with discarded appliances, tops of waste, shanties, and soil polluted with petrol, oil, lead, tar, and arsenic as the site for their 2012 Olympic Stadium to seat 80,000 visitors. To meet a mid-2011 completion due date, the ODA project manager lan Crockford quickly assembled a project team of over 1000, including governmental employees and other stakeholders, such as the London Development Agency as landowner, politicians, utility firms, community councils, miscellaneous local governmental groups, and of course, the athletes, all of whom wanted a voice in the site design. To clean up the site, the team created a “Soil Hospital” on-site with 60 scientists and technicians who processed and cleaned 800,000 tons of soil. To use the surrounding river for transporting equipment and materials to the site, others on the team dredged 30,000 tons of silt, gravel, garbage, and one car from 2.2 kilometers of the river, which hadn’t seen commercial use in over 35 years. 

When they were ready to design the stadium, they referred to plans and schedules for London’s 90,000 seat Wembley Stadium (but that took 10 years to build) and Sydney’s 2000 Olympics 80,000-seat stadium (but that would have stretched halfway across the surrounding rivers on the London site). Moreover, the scope for this stadium was that 25,000 seats would be permanent but the other 55,000 would be temporary, built solely for the 2012 Olympics. To respond, the design team planned a highly-compact field of play that was acceptable to everyone, including the athletes. Construction started in May 2008 with the pouring of concrete, but soon they found that the steel-beamed roof as designed would create turbulence on the compact field. The team redesigned a lighter, more flexible roof made, in part, with 52 tons of scrap metal from old keys, knives, and guns confiscated by the London police, fitting with the ODA’s goals of using recycled materials. The entire stadium uses only one-quarter the amount of steel used in the 2008 Olympic stadium in Beijing. Construction was completed by the mid-2011 deadline at a price of £486 million, £51 million under budget. 

Questions:

  1. What shape of life cycle did this stadium project have? Compare it with the life cycle of the river dredging portion of the effort. Compare it also with the Olympic Torch Relay project described earlier.
  2. Which of the “triple constraints” seems to be uppermost here? Which constraints was Crockford trading between?
  3. Were there any ancillary goals for this projectWhat might they have been?

 Source: J. Danko, “Serious Conditioning,” PM Networks, Vol 24. 

SPECIAL DEMANDS ON THE PROJECT MANAGER

 
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