Thursday, June 2, 2011

Non-Legal Fine Points of Contract Negotiations and Management - IV

There is a lot of talk about project planning and scheduling. Indeed, it seems that just about everyone in the marine industry with a computer talks about Microsoft Project, Gantt charts, critical paths, JIT (just in time) materials acquisition, and a myriad of other concepts and techniques related to project management.

However, when all is said and done, when your MS Project plan is up and running, nothing, absolutely nothing, substitutes for an intimate knowledge of boatbuilding operations and processes, and how they integrate into a logically sequenced whole.

The key elements in developing a project plan/schedule are:

• Identification of tasks
• Estimate of task durations
• Analysis of sequential dependencies among tasks

All of these elements must be accurately developed if the plan in question is to bear any resemblance to the upcoming reality of the work. But even with an accurate plan/schedule constructed and in place, you’re still on the uphill climb. Tracking and keeping a project on schedule hinges almost entirely on another bit of key information — percent complete of any task or group of tasks as at a given date.

The ability to accurately status the work in progress is where most project management falls down. Yet, without this ability, one simply cannot discern projected schedule slippage, developing bottlenecks, necessary workaround plans, or any of the other real-time, real-world necessities of successful project/schedule management.

Such knowledge and ability are only accumulated over several years of hands-on boatbuilding, as well as in boatbuilding operations management. Without such knowledge and ability, the most detailed project plan/schedule, developed with the best purpose-specific computer software, will turn out to be a snare and an utter delusion. And your project will never even come close to completing "on time and on budget."

Next time, we'll take a look at estimates vs. quotes, and fixed-price vs. T&M contracts.

1 comment:

  1. Truer words have never been written. Your candid comments are appreciated by someone who has been burned more than once by unrealistic scheduling. Keep punching away.