Project Management Institute

Panel discussion

current issues in project management of manufacturing projects


The utilization of Project Management within the Manufacturing and Automotive Industries has varied applications unique to these industries. To further explore and develop these applications, the Manufacturing and Automotive SIGs have invited three distinguished and experienced individuals from Manufacturing and Automotive Industries to present their views on topics of common interest. These panelists represent different companies and levels of management. Panel moderator will be Larry Hayes, Past Chair/Treasurer of the Manufacturing Specific Interest Group.

Each of these topics will be introduced by the panel moderator and presented to panelists for his or her views. If the panelists have conflicting views on a specific topic, two panelists will be requested to present their views. During the last 15 minutes of the panel discussion, questions and/or discussion topics will be solicited from the panel audience.

Suggested Topics

Key Critical Success Factors for Project Success

The interpolation of this topic is somewhat dependent upon the industry and the level of management providing the evaluation. That is, what may be important to the project team leader may not be the prime success factor for his vice president. Also, what may be key success factors for the vice president may not be the same for the company president.

For example, the team leader's key project goal may be to meet the stated manufacturing rate by the project start-up date. However, the vice president's prime goal may be to meet the project financial goals; i.e., increased sales and/or income. It is possible for the team leader's goals to be accomplished while the vice president's goals are not accomplished.

And what about the president's project goals? In today's business climate, all senior officers have improved safety goals, and any losttime injury incurred in the project negatively impacts this corporate goal. Therefore, it is possible for the team leader and vice president's goals to be accomplished while the president considers the project to be a failure as a result of an injury.

The question is: What are the critical success factors for project success in the Manufacturing and Automotive Industries?

9/11: What is the Impact of 9/11 on Project Management within the Manufacturing and Automotive Industries?

The impact of 9/11 and the events following this catastrophe have changed our lives forever. We will never approach our business and personal activities as we did prior to 9/11. We have all observed the 9/11 impact on our government and industries. Now as we have had a year to adjust, what is different in the project management world of the Manufacturing and Automotive Industries?

Critical Chain Project Management: Application to Manufacturing and Automotive Industries?

At the two past PMI Symposiums, one of the “hot” topics was “Critical Chain Project Management.” Since this project management technique was promoted by E. M. Goldratt first in 1984 and again in 1997 with “Critical Chain,” this subject has been the topic of several papers. However, I am not aware of this new management technique being applied in the Manufacturing or Automotive Industries. How can the principle behaviors of Critical Chain Project Management (managing constraining resources, elimination of “contingency days,” latest possible start dates, no multitasking, avoidance of “cramming” for deadlines, and capitalization on early finish dates) be applied to the Manufacturing and Automotive Industries?

How to Manage the Key Project Risk Components of Cost, Schedule, and Technical in a Manufacturing and Automotive Environment

As we implement projects in the Manufacturing and Automotive Industries, managing project risk is becoming just as important as managing key project items such as schedules and costs. Management of technical issues relating to a project is becoming more predominate as these industries, due to longer implementation cycles, are doing technical development concurrent with project implementation. Also, within these industries when major changes or expansions are required within the manufacturing process, environmental permitting issues will need to be addressed, adding to the overall implementation schedule.

What is unique within these industries in the management of project risk as applied to Project Costs, Schedules and Technical Issues? Keep in mind that these industries are in a very competitive market and time is money.

Geographically and Culturally Dispersed Teams: Improving Communication

As I review the geographical distribution of Manufacturing SIG members, I find that over 30% of our members are outside of the United States. Within my corporation, substantial earnings are generated by our European and Asian locations. When we implement expansion projects within our domestic manufacturing facilities, it is common that foreign equipment is utilized. Construction materials such as pipe and structural steel used in our manufacturing operations are frequently imported from outside of the United States.

Whether we realize it or not, Project Management has become global. How do the Manufacturing and Automotive Industries manage their worldwide project communications, especially in light of the recent reluctance for air travel? What are their plans for future communication improvements?

“Lean Manufacturing” Approaches: How Do They Apply to Project Management?

Over the last several years, particularly with international competition, we have Manufacturing and Automotive Industries either close or relocate operations outside of the United States. Operations that have remained in the United States have undergone intense pressure to “improve productivity,” which translated to the bottom line means reduce costs.

“Lean Manufacturing” has been an operating philosophy emphasized within U.S. industries over the past several years. In my company, our operating divisions have reviewed head count in every section, whether in manufacturing plant or headquarters staff. Non-essential functions have either been eliminated or transferred to outside businesses. Essential functions have been condensed and expedited. New members of senior management are implementing “lean manufacturing,” questioning the old adage “Well, we have done it this way for the past 10 years.”

How does this concept apply to Project Management within the Manufacturing and Automotive Industries? Does it mean that we need to also eliminate project management resources when at the same time we are being asked to do projects faster and with lower costs?

Final topic selection will be made dependent upon panelist evaluation of topic importance and the session time availability.

This material has been reproduced with the permission of the copyright owner. Unauthorized reproduction of this material is strictly prohibited. For permission to reproduce this material, please contact PMI or any listed author.

Proceedings of the Project Management Institute Annual Seminars & Symposium
October 3–10, 2002 • San Antonio, Texas, USA



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