Category Archives: Case Studies

Upcoming Case Study: Scope Control

Case Study Request

A few weeks ago I received a request to do a case study on scope control.

Upcoming Case Study

Scope Control or rather the lack of scope control is a problem we often run into, so I think it is a good idea to present this case study.

I will gather general scope control best practices and present them here as a case study.

I will prepare the case study during the month of December and start posting it during the month of January 2013.

Case Study Part 6 of 6

Wrap-up

The objective of this case study was to illustrate how project management processes are used in a real life project.

PMI’s PMBOk provides us with an extensive description of project management processes. A case study is a good way to illustrate how project management processes are applied to a real life project.

Thank You

First of all thanks to all of you have contributed to this case study in one way or the other. Thank you to all who have commented. Of course you can still comment on the case.

A special thank you to the Public Utility of Aruba for allowing me to use of their projects for this case study.

Process Count

Looking back at the past parts of this case study we see that we have used the twenty three of the forty two processes in this case study. These twenty three processes were used throughout the project life cycle as follows:

  • Initiation phase:  2
  • Planning phase: 13
  • Execution phase 6
  • Closing phase:    2

 

Note that the most processes were used during the planning phase. That is usually the case with a properly planned project. The Planning Process Group is also the largest of the five process groups. See the related post on process groups below.

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The Closing Phase

As explained in the earlier parts of this case study (see related posts below), this case study is about constructing an industrial building.

During this last phase of the project, we used the following project management processes:

 

Close Project

During the closing phase the customer had to confirm/accept that the building (the unique product, see picture to the left) was built as requested. This is a stepwise process during which the customer gets the opportunity to point out any shortcomings to the building. After having these shortcomings corrected, the building was transferred to customer.

 

After acceptance by the customer, the company archive is updated with all the drawings of this building showing exactly how this building was built. I normally include a file folder (digital) of all the pictures that we took during the execution of the project. I like to remember the people that worked on my projects.

Close Procurements

After the building was formally accepted by the customer, we moved to closing the procurements on this project. In this case we only had one contract, which was closed without any problems.

Next, we moved to very last thing on every project, that is producing the final financial report of the project. In this case we ended up well within my overall budget for the project.

 

As you can see above, during the closing phase of the project, we used only two of the forty two (teal italic headings) processes. A few days ago a subscriber pointed out to me that there are a total of forty two processes and not forty three as I mentioned in earlier posts. Thank you Mary Ann.

In the next and last blog post we will wrap-up this case study.

 

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The Execution Phase

As explained in the earlier parts of this case study (see related posts below), this case study is about constructing an industrial building.

During the execution phase of this project, the building is actually built.

During this phase of the project, we went through the following project management processes:

 

Conduct Procurement

One of the fist things you do after your project plan is approved is to start your procurement. In this case we started by writing a Request For Quotation (RFQ) with scope we had. Once the RFQ was ready we sent it to the contractor who had similar building for us. This is called single-sourcing. Single-sourcing should only be done when you are pretty sure about your budget. In this case we were.

Part of the RFQ is an invitation for the contractor to visit the site before submitting a price. We make these site visits, called bidders conferences, mandatory for all projects. The reason is that we want the bidders to be as familiar as possible with work before submitting a price.

The contractor submitted the price after the prescribed amount of working days. The price submitted was $40,750 versus $39,000 we had budgeted (see related post below, part 3 of 6). During a brief contract negotiation, the contractor explained that this price was slightly higher because this building had three garage doors instead of the one door the previous building had. This was acceptable to us and we then signed a contract for $40,750.

 

Control Scope, Schedule and Cost

Once the contract was signed, the construction of the building started. To the left is a picture taken during the beginning off the construction. On almost all of my projects I use Earned Value Management (EVM) to control the scope, schedule and cost of the major contracts. EVM is a project management tool that shows you throughout the project what value you have earned for the money you spent. In effect EVM tells you if your money is well spent or not. Here is an example of the one page EVM report I use to manage my projects. Controlling scope, schedule and cost are three of the most important Monitoring and Controlling Processes.

 

Administer Procurement

Throughout the construction of the building you have to manage the contract you signed with contractor. You have to answer contractor questions, discuss any changes and of course make sure the contractor gets paid whenever the building reaches the agreed upon milestones. I have many pictures taken during all of my projects. Some pictures are used as references for future projects, some pictures are just for the project records and most of the pictures are to remember the people that worked on my projects. This picture shows the building at about 80% complete.

 

Manage Stakeholder Expectations

The key to project success is to involve your customers as much as possible.  During the construction of this building we had to make some minor changes. We involve the customer in all of these changes. The customer also had some request for some minor changes which were honored by the project team. The process of Managing Stakeholder Expectations (listening to stakeholder requests and involving them in changes) is vital to the acceptance of the project.

 

As you can see above, we used six of the forty two (teal italic headings) processes. The next blog post will be about the closing phase of this project.

 

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The Planning Phase

As explained in the earlier parts of this case study (see related posts below), this case study is about constructing an industrial building.

The objective of the planning phase of a project is to produce a project plan, which contains a quite accurate budget (+/- 10%)

To achieve that for this project, we went through the following project management processes:

 

Collect Requirements

The first step in this process was to establish the exact size of the required building. At this stage of the project, the size of the equipment that was to be housed in the building was known. The size of the equipment would determine the required size of the building.

Together with the customer, we next selected a location for the new building. Here is a close up of the chosen location.

The chosen location was long but not very wide. That posed the first challenge on my team: design a building that would both house the required equipment and fit the chosen location.

 

Define Scope

With the size of the equipment known and location selected, the consultancy determined that the building had to be 41 feet x 19 feet, which works out to be 780 square feet. Note that this is much bigger that what we had in initiation phase of the project (436 square feet).

Create WBS

To create the work Breakdown Structure (WBS) we broke down the construction of the building in the following WBS-elements:

  • Construction
    • Mobilization of the contractor
    • Pouring of the foundation
    • Pouring of the floor
    • Erecting of the walls
    • The roof
    • Electrical work
    • Painting

 Develop Schedule 

   

The schedule was developed using the same WBS-elements as in the Create WBS  process. The WBS-elements become the activities in the schedule. Using a scheduling program, we came up a total duration of 53 working days for the construction of this building.

Remark: develop schedule is discussed here as one process. In reality, Develop Schedule, consists of five processes (Define Activities, Sequence Activities, Estimate Resources, Estimate durations and Develop Schedule). Because of the simplicity of this project, all five processes have been done as one process.

Determine Budget

To determine the budget, we used the same method as we used during the initiation phase: a contractor built a similar building for us not so long ago for $50 per square foot. During the Define Scope process discussed above, we saw that the building has to be 780 square feet. This works out to budget of $39,000 at $50 per square feet. This method of estimating is called parametric estimating.

Plan Procurement

As mentioned above, a contractor had built a similar building for us in the past. Since we were satisfied with the job the contractor had done, we decided that we would ask the same contractor for a quotation once the project plan was approved.  

Verify Scope

It is good practice to verify the scope before developing the project plan. This is very important in ever project. so we discussed the building once more with our customer before developing the project plan.

 Develop Project Plan

Developing the project plan is one of the most important processes (steps) in doing a project. The project is going to be the basis for managing the project. A project plan should contain at least the following:

  • An explanation why the project is needed.
  • A description of the project.
  • An explanation of how the project will be done
  • The schedule of the project
  • The budget of the project

We included all of the above in our project plan and submitted it for approval.

Approve Project Plan

The approval of the project is one the important milestones in every project. Once the project plan was, it was submitted for approval. since the building (and the budget) was straight forward, the project plan was approved without any problems.

   Developingdd lllllll

During this planning phase of the project, we used thirteen (counting Develop Schedule as five processes) of the forty two (teal italic headings) processes. The planning phase usually has the most processes, so this is the longest blog post in the series. At the end of the case study we will count the amount of processes used per phase.

 

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The Initiation Phase

As explained in part 1 of this case study (see related posts below), this case study is about constructing an industrial building

Identify Stakeholders

This project started out when the 30+ year old equipment housed in a building the same age, became obsolete. A new building was required.

The first thing I did was contacted the customer (end user) who was to use the new building.

It is crucial for every project that you involve the customer from day one.

As a project manager I manage several projects at the same time, so in order to meet my schedules, I hire a project management consultancy to assist me with my projects.

The third stakeholder was the sponsor of the project, in this case the upper management of the company needing the building.

During this first project management process (Identify Stakeholders) we have identified three stakeholders: the customer, the consultant and the sponsor. Later on (during the execution phase) we will identify the contractor as the fourth stakeholder.

Note that I have given the headings for the project management processes a distinct color. That should make it easier for us to identify the processes as we go along. At the end of the case study, we will count all the processes used for this case study.

Develop Project Charter

The objective of a project charter is to get an authorization to go ahead and spend money to develop a project plan. It can be seen as a preliminary go/no go decision from the sponsor in an early stage of the project. The project charter should contain at least the following information:

  • a description of the project
  • why the project is needed
  • a rough (+/- 50%) estimate of what the project will cost

In this case the project was needed because the existing building was 30+ years old and needed to be replaced.

A rough order of magnitude estimate of the cost was made based on the size of the building we were looking at in this early stage of the project, which was about 436 square feet. A similar building had cost us about $50 per square feet in the past, so our preliminary estimate for this building was about $22,000  (436 square feet x $50 per  square feet), +/- 50%. This method of estimating is called parametric estimating based on historic data.

The accuracy of the estimate is not better that +/- 50% because the information in this stage of the project is not accurate. Later during the planning phase of the project, we will have to  produce a better estimate.

The project charter was then prepared including the following information

  • a description of the project: construct a building  of 436 square feet.
  • An explanation of the need for the project: the existing building was 30+ years old and needed to be replaced
  • A rough order of magnitude estimate of the cost of $22,000

Because the building was needed for the day to day operations of the company and the cost estimate was straight forward, the project charter was approved without any delay.

Also because of the urgency of the project, we quickly moved to the planning phase of the project, which we will discuss in the next blog post.

As you can see from the above, we have used two of the forty two processes during the initiation phase of this project.

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Case Study Introduction

Request for Case Study

A few weeks ago one of my subscribers requested a case study as a way of demonstrating how project management process groups are applied to a real life project. The request came in as the first comment on the blog post about process groups.

Request Honored

Several subscribers confirmed that such a case study is a good idea, so I decided to do the case study

Processes and Process Groups

PMI’s PMBOK is an extensive description of forty two project management processes. These forty two processes are grouped into five process groups. Read more in related post below on process groups. In real life some projects use certain processes and other projects use other processes. Processes pertaining to scope, schedule and budget are used in all projects. At the end of this case study, I will count all the processes I have used on this project. I have never done that before.

Project Phases

The natural flow of a project is to go through four phases from beginning to the end of the project. Going through these four phases, initiation, planning, execution and closing phase is called the project life cycle. Read more about the project life cycle in the related post below.

 

Description of the Case Study

The project chosen for this case study is the construction of an industrial building for the Public Utilities of Aruba. The building was part of a bigger project. I chose just the civil part of this project for the case study, so that any one can relate to it. The idea is to understand how project management processes are applied to a project and not the technical details of the project.

During the case study I will go through the complete chronological project life cycle, from initiation through planning and execution to closing. When doing that, I will discuss all the processes I used on this particular project.

There will a total of six posts including this one (introduction, project initiation, planning, execution, closing and wrap-up)

I invite you to comment on each post as we go along.

 

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Case Study Offered

Case Study Request

One of my subscribers recently asked me to present a project management case study as a series of posts on our blog. The case study should represent a real life project. The request came in as the first comment of this post on Process Groups

Request Honored

I think this request is a great idea and I will soon be running this case study on this blog. The case study will be about a project that anyone can relate to.

Interested?

If you are interested in such a case study, please SIGN UP on this blog (on the top to the right)  to receive all the blog posts of this case study and other project management tips.

 

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