Controlling Project Performance and Project Closure

Assignment 5: Controlling Project Performance and Project Closure

Managing Project Teams (BUS380)

Fast Tracking is a technique in which activities are performed in parallel as opposed to sequentially as would be done using an originally planned schedule. In fast tracking, activities are worked on simultaneously instead of having to wait for each portion of the project to be completed separately. While there are advantages associated with Fast Tracking, there can be just as many challenges that come with its utilization as well. In speaking of Fast Tracking, one must consider Project Closure also, as no matter how fast a project can be worked on, it needs to finish strong to satisfy the customer and the project team. Let us examine the concepts of Fast Tracking and Project Closure so as to gain a better understanding of the fundamentals of a project, and how one can be completed successfully.

Advantages/Challenges Associated with Fast Tracking

Fast Tracking can be a very useful tool for a Project Manager and team when and if it is applicable. No method is perfect, however, and will always have its challenges coupled with its advantages. One of the advantages of Fast Tracking is that it saves on time. Fast Tracking allows a project team to begin and progress on a project, even while the design and structure of the project is continuing and evolving. An example of this method in relation to my current job with Animal Control is in how we complete what are called our Staff Reports. We create Staff Reports to be utilized at what are known as Tribunals to present the facts that led to the issuance of civil citations, and are meant to attempt to convince the Tribunal panel as to why to uphold the civil citations as opposed to dismissing them. Sometimes when we have a person who is a habitual offender of ordinances, we may have new complaints levied against them while a Staff Report is already in the process of being constructed based on the previous complaint. One section of the Staff Report is titled “History”, and is used to present any type of pattern of behavior we have had with the appellant over a period of time. In instances such as this, we complete the Staff Report prior to the Tribunal for the originally appealed complaint even while the newer complaint is under investigation. This is considered Fast Tracking the Staff Report, as even though we will need to include the newer complaint in the History section of the current Staff Report, we can still complete the Staff Report while the other investigation is ongoing simultaneously.

Another advantage of Fast Tracking is that it reduces construction costs. Labor costs for a completed project end up being reduced when the time to complete the project was reduced. Savings can also come through advanced purchasing. When you can buy materials in advance, there is a possibility to gain cost savings on materials whose prices rise daily. The architects and/or designers of a project are served better when they know exactly what they have to work with and can design with the already purchased materials in mind.

As was stated, although there are advantages associated with Fast Tracking, a project manager needs to be aware of the challenges as well. For starters, there can be issues in regards to quality. When a project is put together and completed as quickly as possible, the probability of errors and omissions increases, thus making the quality suffer. An example of this goes back to the Staff Reports I had mentioned earlier. The Staff Reports are very in-depth and need to be structured a certain way as they are presented in a specific order during the Tribunal. Aside from the presentation aspect, the original narrative regarding the issuance of the appealed citations needs to be re-written into a more concise format highlighting the incident and what led to the citation issuance. If an Officer were to rush through the re-write of the original narrative, and/or did not proof read what was re-written, it would lead to multiple errors being overlooked, which could result in the possible dismissal of the citation.

Lastly, another challenge associated with Fast Tracking is that there are planning issues. The speed required for a project to be Fast Tracked leaves a good portion of the planning phase behind. The time between the design of the project to the actual construction of it is minimal, so with no true planning phase involved, many errors would be overlooked like they would not be during a closer review. Adding to this is the difficulty in remaining consistent across the life cycle of the project when parts are completed out of order or when multiple people are in charge. With the advantages and challenges having been examined, let us look at an example of a project with unique CPI and SPI results.

Meaning/Causes of a Project w/ CPI of 1.2 and SPI of 0.8

What does a project with a CPI of 1.2 and an SPI of 0.8 mean? First, we need to understand what these terms are, followed by what the numbers represent. CPI stands for Cost-Performance Index, and is a measure of the efficiency of expenses spent on a project. The formula used to determine CPI is EV (Earned Value) / AC (Actual Cost). Earned Value is a technique for estimating how a project is doing in terms of its budget and schedule, with its purpose being to obtain an estimate for the resources that will have been used at completion. Actual Cost is the total costs actually incurred and recorded in accomplishing work performed during a given time period. When the value of CPI is more than one, as evidenced in our example, it signifies that the project is running under budget. SPI stands for Schedule Performance Index, and is a ratio of the EV to the PV (Planned Value), or in formulaic terms, SPI = EV/PV. Planned Value is the total cost of the work planned/scheduled as of a reporting date. An SPI of less than one, as shown in the example, means that the project is potentially behind the schedule to-date. Hypothetical figures that would come to the result of a CPI of 1.2 and an SPI of 0.8 would be if the PV = $375,000, the AC = $250,000, and the EV = $300,000. What these CPI and SPI numbers mean regarding this project is that the project is running under budget, yet is behind schedule. Causes of this could be because the SPI does not take into consideration if the project is on a critical schedule path, meaning it takes into account all tasks both critical and non-critical, and does not take into account works that have a zero-sum budget such as submittals that need approval or ordering of materials. In understanding that, let us now look at what results in a successful project, that being Project Closure.

The Benefit of Effective Project Closure

Project Closure means applying the final touches. It is the final phase of the project management process, hence the word closure. Project Closure involves the release of the final deliverables to the clients, passing on project documentation, communication of project closure to the stakeholders, release of project resources, and termination of the supplier contracts. Some of the benefits associated with effective project closure include that the stakeholders as well as the customers are satisfied with the end results, project resources are freed up to be utilized on future projects, critical knowledge is gained from the completed project, and lastly, that there are no loose ends. With understanding how Project Closure can be beneficial, we must also understand what the best practices applicable to most projects regarding Project Closure are.

Two Best Practices Concerning Project Closure Applicable to Most Projects

The two best practices concerning Project Closure applicable to most projects, in my estimation, would be performance evaluations and celebrating with the team. The project manager at the close of the project should conduct performance evaluations for team members. The project manager needs to consider the contributions made by the team members as well as developmental opportunities. There should be documentation of this, as well as it being communicated to the individuals and their direct supervisors. Performance evaluations are an important contribution not only to the development of the organization, but to the development of the individuals also. While evaluations can be very business oriented, celebrating with the team is another practice that can help to let off some steam and bask in the success of a completed project. At the close of the project some form of celebration should take place, whether it is something simple like a catered lunch, all the way up to something like a full-scale party. The point of the celebration is to collectively honor the contributions the team has made to the project in a fun, stress-relieving way. The celebration allows even the most challenging of projects to close out in a fun, upbeat manner, leaving a positive lasting impression.

Conclusion

In conclusion, Fast Tracking and Project Closure are integral aspects of any project. While Project Closure will always be a facet as every project comes to an end, Fast Tracking is a resource that should not be overlooked and utilized when necessary. As project managers, we need to be aware of all the resources available to us, as certain ones will cater to specific situations. In knowing of these resources ahead of time and weighing their pros and cons, we can effectively use them to steer the project towards an efficient Project Closure. In doing so, we can metaphorically, and perhaps literally, pat ourselves on the back for a job well done, a satisfied customer, and a successful company.