Project Management - Complex Project Delivery

August 3, 2020

Bluefield was engaged by a mining customer where the brief was to assist with a very complex project that was challenging to execute. Bluefield accepted the challenge and appointed a project manager to take full accountability for project delivery.

The project manager initiated a review of the project status and identified a few key stress points.

  1. Project delivery status of physical assets was progressing well, including the civil work, hardware installations, and was mainly on time and budget
  2. Operational readiness and the management of change posed a significant challenge:
    1. The magnitude of operational readiness items such as introduction to the site, site acceptance, and procedural document was vastly underestimated
    2. The scope was very poorly defined that led to multiple scope changes and re-work at the point of handover and site acceptance
    3. Several approved capital scope items were removed from the project through informed decision making with no formal management of change or change requests to the capital approvals
    4. A very strong project team with poorly defined roles and responsibility
    5. Poor engagement with the project sponsor
    6. Poor project controls with poor content and an inconsistent message to the Steering committee (VPO and GMs). To further compound this matter, the project controls were never delivered on time.

By applying the Kepner-Tregoe Project Management framework, the following corrective actions were taken:

  1. The operational readiness requirements, scope, and schedule were updated with the correct level of granularity.
  2. The original scope and supplementary request items were reviewed, defined, and formalized. Key stakeholders were engaged at the sub-committee level and the deliverables and timing were communicated.
  3. The missing scope items (previously removed) were re-introduced to the schedule development and work commenced immediately.
  4. The change management process for the project was formalized and the responsibility for approvals was delegated to the sub-committee members
  5. The operational readiness requirements were defined, specific documents and procedures were identified for development, and the scope and schedule were updated
  6. The project team was realigned with specific areas of responsibility and project leads were appointed. Specific duties and responsibilities were defined for cost control, project engineering, technology, user acceptance, deployment, scheduling, and project control.
  7. The relationship with the project sponsor is critical to the success of any project. Open communication or transparency was established to ensure a fully informed and engaged project sponsor
  8. Project controls were reviewed and the reporting frequency was adjusted to weekly scope progress and monthly cost performance. The content of the project reports was adjusted to reflect the important project status information and key decision items. The development of the project control was made a priority before other project executions to ensure punctual and timely deliverables.

The project schedule was reviewed after all the actions were implemented and optimized. The resource constraint was addressed, and an expedited delivery program could be established.

The project was delivered on time and budget with only some minor punch list items remaining on the completion day. The project team was acknowledged by the leadership team for delivering all operational key milestones successfully against the expediated Go/Live timelines with a COVID-19 safety control in place.

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