Independent Project Manager Strategy

Project Management in Action

Project Snapshots

Canada's capital region was directed by environmental authorities in 1985 to achieve a dramatic improvement in its sewage treatment capacity and its final effluent quality by December 1992. The Regional Municipality of Ottawa-Carleton had no choice but to proceed aggressively with a $396 million rehabilitation and expansion of its main sewage treatment plant.

Canadian municipalities have typically retained a single consulting engineering firm to carry out both the design and management roles on a project. In this case, however, certain considerations convinced the Region to take the less traditional strategy of appointing an independent project management firm. The project complexity, the large amount of design and construction to be performed, and the importance of cost and schedule control, emphasized the importance of project management disciplines.

In response to the tight schedule, and concerned with a potential overloading of one firm with the magnitude of the design work, the project manager delineated 51 separate design packages and awarded them to 15 different consulting firms. Similarly, the large volume of construction work was broken into 55 contracts to allow sequencing of construction, competitive lump-sum bidding, and award of work to a broad base of local contractors. More than 40 equipment supply contracts were also defined. At the same time, the Region maintained the advantage of controlling the project through a single source of responsibility.

After the definition of scope, cost, and schedule, the project was approved in April 1988. In late 1992, the project remained consistent with the original scope definition. Despite the imposition of new taxes, the budget was lowered to $368 million, and is now 85 percent committed and 80 percent spent. The final cost is forecast to be within the current budget. The key schedule milestone was achieved in September 1992, three months ahead of schedule. The Region has confirmed its satisfaction with its chosen strategy of using an independent project management firm, and the project has been a boost to the local economy. Most importantly, Canada's capital city is starting to achieve significant improvements in the capacity and quality of its sewage treatment.

from: David N. Walker
R.PA. Consultants Limited

Motorola, a global electronics company based in Schaumburg, Illinois, offers a range of products and services including semiconductors, computers, space communications, cellular telephones, pagers, two-way radios, data networks, and engine controls.

Over 2,000 personnel are employed at its Worldwide Radio Products Group in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, to design, manufacture, and market two-way portable radios and mobile radios used by policemen, ambulances, firemen, secret service, and others.

Producing these products relies heavily on software development. Over 90 strong, the Product Development Group is responsible for embedding real-time software on internal radio microchips— the “brains” which control the radios— and PC-based applications which facilitate communications between computers and radio firmware. Other software groups at the site develop software for Computer Integrated Manufacturing to control automation and factory flow, and MIS applications including accounting, inventory, and shipping. Most software development and project management occurs on Apollo workstations.

To estimate project costs and better manage project life cycles, Motorola uses a CASE cost estimating tool based on the popular GECOMO model for cost estimating. Using cost data from previous projects allows Motorola to estimate costs at the beginning of projects during the early planning phases. As a project progresses, the framework can be amended, assigned cost drivers to individual modules of a structure chart. This lets managers estimate based on actual staffing levels versus ideal or planned staffing levels.

Motorola attributes several software development improvements to the use of this tool. First, it has enabled Motorola to reduce project cycle. Second, it has helped free up resources by recognizing that workers are frequently assigned to multiple projects simultaneously. Third, it has given Motorola greater confidence in its ability to estimate costs—nearly all projects come in within a 15 to 20 percent variance where, historically, estimates were missed by 30 percent or more. Fourth, it has helped produce more accurate proposals. All of these improvements have contributed to significant cost reduction for the division.

from: Susan Beers
Marconi Systems Technology
Product used: GECOMO Plus

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.




Related Content