Project Management in Action: Project Snapshots

University of South Florida Compresses Schedule with Aid of Project Management


Project Management in Action

Project Snapshots

The implementation, or cutover, of the AT&T Definity G3R system with new cable facilities for the University of South Florida was moved from April of 1993 to November of 1992. The existing telephone systems for the university were nearing collapse and improving the implementation by five months was very important. Additionally, the university needed to use the fiber-optic cable component of the project to implement anew data communications backbone.

The telephone system was actually installed in two parts: one for faculty and staff, and one for the dormitory residents. The faculty and staff component was originally planned for implementation first with the addition of the dormitories later. We actually reversed the order and implemented the dormitory system in August of 1992. The faculty and staff were added three months later over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.

Project management techniques assisted greatly in the effort to meet this changed and compressed schedule. Well-defined tasks had to be rearranged to meet the new implementation plan and labor requirement readjusted to meet the compressed schedule. Without project management techniques the entire process would have had to be recreated and rethought.

The tasks and subtasks associated with each of the systems were rearranged according to the new implementation plan. The order of implementation of different components were reassociated with the system that the new plan required. That is, subsystems previously attached to the faculty and staff system were broken out and reattached to the dormitory system. Adjustments were made and tasks were added or deleted as required.

Throughout the process, detailed planning meetings were held weekly. Free thinking and flexibility were encouraged and we constantly sought to do tasks more efficiently, sooner, or not at all.

The result was a near flawless telephone system dial-tone cutover of a system with over 5000 telephones. It was a project that would have been difficult enough on the original timeframe but became a real challenge with the compressed interval. The months of planning, revising, checking and double checking was rewarded by this exemplary achievement.

From: George W. Ellis,

University of South Florida

Product Used: AT&T Definity G3R

When the Air Force hired Grumman Data Systems in 1988 to develop the Depot Maintenance Management Information System, an on-line system for aircraft maintenance, the Program Planning and Control Department began producing a Cost/Schedule Status Report to fulfill the contractual requirement. Once the company started replacing the 33 different systems already in use, the contract exploded. The Air Force exercised several options, including two major modifications in 1991, each requiring as much reporting as an entire contract option.

Managers were too busy to analyze financial statements, but without analysis the statements were meaningless. They began requesting custom reports to get answers.

Each of the requests was different. They covered different contract sections and time periods; some included overhead costs, some did not. Some information had to be extracted from the company's mainframe computer and manually reentered into a spreadsheet. Once the request was answered, the manager usually wanted the report monthly.

Managers presented their reports at a weekly meeting. Because each chart used different criteria, much of the time was spent explaining formatting, not results. This meant creating more charts to explain the inconsistencies.

The planning staff had to start anticipating management's needs. Using guidelines from their in-house Quality Program, they developed a standardized format for a monthly management report.

Each major piece of work is summarized in a text section, which explains any variances and comments on future problems or opportunities. The text is followed by color graphs showing the work scheduled, work performed, and actual costs to date. One graph is denominated in dollars and one in labor-hours. These charts provide a quick picture of performance.

Managers have become comfortable with the report. Since introducing the Monthly Management Report in December of 1991, requests for custom reports have almost been eliminated.

The report has helped Program Planning and Control elevate cost and schedule criteria from a contractual requirement to a management tool. But the best measure of the report's success is its use by the customer. It was meant for internal use, but after we gave the Air Force a courtesy copy, the Monthly Management Report has become an unofficial contract deliverable.

From: John J. Sullivan

Grumman Data Systems

Product Used: Micro-Frame

Project Manager

APRIL 1993



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