Is your organization launching a new facility? Whether it represents an expansion of existing operations, a relocation from a previous site, or an entirely new function for the company, there are a number of risks around material procurement that must be identified and properly addressed before your facility startup project can deliver the expected results.
project management articles
Has your project team ever overcommitted itself? It’s a surprisingly common problem. There are many ways a team can overcommit. Some promise to achieve too much. Others promise to deliver reasonable results on an unrealistic schedule. It’s also possible that a Project Team consistently meets expectations and sticks to the agreed-upon project timeframe, but at costs that exceed the approved budget parameters.
Gaining cooperation across disparate sub-groups is sometimes a difficult task for project managers. Even when everyone agrees they’re on the same page and working toward the same goals, it’s not uncommon to discover that communication channels between the groups are weak and collaboration is lacking. Some departments may have a tough time fully engaging with the effort. Others might try to push their opinions and preferences to the forefront. Participation in meetings and brainstorming sessions is often hit or miss.
Ongoing education is a critical part of maintaining a Project Team’s base of skills and expertise. Using internal team members to train others in the group is often an attractive option—it doesn’t entail the typical hard costs associated with outside training and classes can be conducted with little advance planning. This takes good advantage of downtime while keeping everyone up to date on best practices. However, though the cost savings and flexibility may be tempting, there are some challenges that teams need to be mindful of if they want to get the most benefit out of their internal training opportunities.
Complex projects often have more than one critical path, and in order for the project to reach a successful completion, each of these paths must be carefully managed. Even if the primary path is achieved, a lack of progress on any of the follow-on paths could doom the project to failure in the long run.
Teams that execute these challenging projects need to be mindful of what it takes to manage multiple layers of requirements and actions. A strong awareness of all the paths that make up a project is critical if the Project Team wants to ensure that nothing falls behind schedule or drops off the radar.
If your center of excellence is facing a can’t-fail project with multiple paths, it’s important to understand the risks that exists and where opportunities for success can be found.
The risks behind multiple critical paths
One risk often encountered when executing projects with more than one critical path is the potential for tasks outside the primary path to be neglected. It’s easy for the project team and executives to be so focused on the primary critical path that other important issues outside of that narrow scope go unnoticed. Without a course correction, this fixation can cause the additional paths to become critical as well. Milestones might be missed or, as schedule adjustments are made to reflect the project’s progress against the target completion date, activities outside the primary critical path may not be properly re-sequenced.
If activities in one path begin to slip, it will eventually trigger problems for the team and could cause considerable grief to the project. The organization may need to spend more time or money to get progress back on track than was originally estimated. Not only could the project’s completion date be in jeopardy as a result, but the Project Team may also go over budget trying to set things right.
The other common risk arises when any of the secondary or tertiary paths overtakes the primary critical path in importance. Occurring most often as a result of failing to adequately attend to follow-on paths, one of these lower-priority paths could suddenly become the most important path when the team realizes they’re dangerously behind schedule or not prepared to execute activities as needed. The primary critical path is then at risk of also falling behind.
Tips to successfully manage multiple critical paths
Driving these complex efforts to a successful completion requires a cohesive methodology that delivers the necessary insight, while also providing the tools to act quickly and effectively.
Robust project controls are a vital component when managing multiple critical paths. The right project management methodology will enable the team to identify problem areas early. With insight into the project’s progress and a knowledge of potential challenges lurking on the horizon, the Project Team will be able to maintain sufficient awareness of not only the primary critical path, but also all everything that follows behind it.
Communication is another key to sustaining the right level of connection across all of the important paths that are part of the project. Information sharing should be a focus as the Project Team works to balance the needs of the critical path alongside those of the secondary and tertiary paths. Data must flow from the project team up to the executives to ensure everyone is aware of progress and issues. It will also need to be channeled from the leadership group down to the center of excellence. This may be in the form of strategic direction that influences project decisions or activity scheduling, or input to help resolve problems so the project can move forward.
Scheduling challenges exist in every type of project, but manufacturing efforts bring with them some unique risks and obstacles. Outside influences and unexpected developments can impact timelines in surprising ways, putting the team in a difficult position. Frustration arises when a schedule goes off track, sometimes pushing Project Teams to cut corners as they…
Project managers essentially have two areas of focus when it comes to manpower support:
Knowing that they have enough of the right resources to execute the amount of work planned, ensuring they aren’t caught short-handed at a critical time.
Understanding when those resources are needed—and when they’re best used—so they don’t have expensive labor resources onsite without anything to do.
If the team isn’t adequately staffed with the right level of labor resources to complete the amount of work being scheduled, the activity durations will ultimately take longer. This often leads to some of the project’s scope being sacrificed toward the end of the project as the team runs out of time leading up to the target completion date.
Project management doesn’t happen in a vacuum. A huge portion of the discipline revolves around people and the dynamics at work when they get together—conducting needs assessments, justifying objectives and costs to leadership teams, coordinating with end users to mitigate project impacts, communicating with stakeholders, and devising practical solutions to potential problems. Unfortunately, many project…
Project management training isn’t a set-it-and-forget-it type of undertaking. It’s something that should always be evolving to address changing needs, new views on best practices, and ever-advancing technology tools. With that in mind, we put together a few scenarios to look for that signal it’s time to take Project Management training—either for individuals within your…
Project management leaders are always looking for ways to boost synergy within their teams. Unfortunately, this can sometimes lead to near-constant meddling. Not to be confused with micromanaging, the sort of meddling I’m talking about revolves around the team’s various personalities, not its overall effectiveness. But leaders who want their Project Team to resemble one…