Three Teams Exceeded Expectations to Deliver Benefits to the Masses
Project of the Year
BY SARAH FISTER GALE
Flawless project execution can change lives. This year’s PMI Project of the Year finalists went all-out to prove that. All three teams mastered intense requirements to deliver critical improvements that benefit millions of people—and generated serious value for organizations.
One redeveloped a massive natural gas field to solve a growing energy crisis in a booming region. Another upgraded a sprawling rail system to ensure a smoother ride for daily passengers. The third delivered next-gen aircraft in record time.
Here’s a look at the three finalists:
As demand for energy steadily increases across India, millions of homes have faced power shortages in recent years. With coal and oil production stretched to the limits, extending the life of the country’s largest offshore natural gas field offered a bountiful but risk-riddled solution.
Contractor L&T Hydrocarbon Engineering (LTHE) overcame short timelines, contractor conflicts and months of monsoons to complete the Bassein offshore redevelopment project in 2018—on budget and ahead of schedule. Sponsor Oil and Natural Gas Corp. Ltd. left little room for error, with requirements including strict quality and cost parameters as well as an ambitious 30-month schedule to accelerate delivery of new energy supplies to customers in the fast-growing west-central state of Maharashtra.
Weather-related risks layered additional restrictions on the work schedule. Offshore work was off-limits during peak monsoon season, from May to October. So LTHE had to compress much of the platform installation work into a two-month window before nasty storms hit.
Proactive problem-solving and relentless stakeholder engagement allowed the team to mitigate delays and complete the project three months early, says Kaustuv Bagchi, project sponsor and head of India operations, LTHE, Mumbai, India.
“In many ways, this was a landmark project for us because of its sheer size and schedule,” Mr. Bagchi says. “Nobody has ever done a project like this ahead of schedule. We were able to establish a new global benchmark.”
Organizations: Oil and Natural Gas Corp. Ltd. and L&T Hydrocarbon Engineering
Location: Maharashtra state, India
Final budget: US$414 million
Scope: Build a gas-processing and compression facility, wellhead platform, subsea pipelines and living quarters on India’s largest natural gas field.
Benefit: The project delivered energy for millions of homes in a growing region.
Building new commercial aircraft is a must to keep people moving. But Brazilian aerospace giant Embraer had an even bolder goal: design, develop and deliver a second-generation jet with a massive supply chain that would give the company a competitive advantage. On top of that, it vowed to complete the project faster than any other aerospace company has.
Embraer was more than prepared for takeoff. To complete the first model from its E2 series, the organization established a formal program management process and built a skilled team of project managers, 80 percent of whom had PMI’s Project Management Professional (PMP)® certification. During planning, teams reviewed lessons learned from previous private and military aircraft projects, replicating tested scheduling strategies, supply-chain management and early-warning mechanisms.
Location: São José dos Campos, Brazil
Final budget: US$890 million
Scope: Design, build and deliver a state-of-the-art jet in five years
Benefit: The team delivered a jet in just five years—faster than any other jet project in the industry.
Teams ensured that no stakeholders got stranded by constantly showing support to make sure nobody dropped to the back of the pack. For instance, teams spent months training executive sponsors and other stakeholders about risk management to ensure those key stakeholders were equipped to proactively identify and address problems, says Fernando Antonio Oliveira, E2 program director, Embraer, São José dos Campos, Brazil.
“We taught them that if all evidence was pointing toward a likely delay—even if a supplier was not reporting a delay—we should act in advance,” he says.
Rigorous planning allowed teams to soar in the face of turbulence. Embraer delivered the new aircraft more than 10 percent under budget. The project was completed in five years—two months ahead of schedule and 23 months faster than any other jet in the industry—while meeting all other original requirements.
“Our greatest achievement is not any one of those things, but the sum of them all,” Mr. Oliveira says.
As one of the largest public transit organizations in North America, Société de transport de Montréal (STM) in Canada operates and maintains a rail system with 68 stations and 71 kilometers (44 miles) of tunnels. But the Montreal Metro system, at more than 50 years old, had much of its equipment nearing the end of its useful life. So STM in 2010 initiated plans to deliver a modern rolling stock.
The team bought and integrated 52 engine cars and 468 passenger cars during the eight-year project and modified more than 500 tunnels to better accommodate the new equipment. But the tunnel upgrades had to be completed before the trains and cars were even designed.
Organization: Société de transport de Montréal
Location: Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Final budget: CA$2.15 billion
Scope: Acquire and deploy new trains and modify rail tunnels in the system
Benefit: The new trains increase commuter capacity across the system by 8 percent.
To ensure the tunnel modifications aligned with new equipment requirements, the team vetted assumptions as train and car design data became available. And the vendor wasn’t allowed to start mass production until the team signed off—after inspecting the trains as part of a formal monitoring and control process.
Despite the anticipated design and launch challenges working with 35 subcontractors over multiple years, the project was completed one week early and CA$250 million under budget. The team used only 1 percent of the entire contingency budget, says Pierre Vézina, senior principal and MPM-10 project management office director, STM, Montreal, Quebec, Canada.
But Montreal’s commuters won big, too. Feedback from surveys and focus groups during the project helped build public enthusiasm. The new trains delivered an 8 percent capacity increase, which keeps people moving during peak use hours.
“We can say today that one of our greatest achievements was public acceptance of this new train,” Mr. Vézina says. “Everybody is satisfied.” PM
And the Winner Is …
The 2019 PMI Project of the Year will be presented at the awards gala on the first night of PMI Global Conference, 5-7 October 2019 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA.
A Closer Look
Check out future PM Network® issues and videos on PMI’s YouTube channel for in-depth case studies of each finalist.