- Briefing Room
U.S. Department of Transportation
Federal Highway Administration
1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
Washington, DC 20590
Project management plans will document how to manage resources, monitor, and take action during project activities and tasks so that the goals and objectives of the project are met. Project management practices will plan, execute, monitor, intervene, and learn from the project activities of each project participant with the goal of completing all project objectives on time, within budget, and to stakeholder satisfaction.
Project management includes the following practices:
Effective communication [written, in meetings, and with individual participants] is key to ensuring that project participants are sharing their objectives, status, problems, and fixes.
Good project management practices must be married with good management skills. These skills include leading [establishing direction, aligning people to that direction and motivating people to overcome obstacles], communicating and stimulating communications among others, negotiating with others on what they need to do, and problem solving with the personnel performing the activity and with their management.
PROJECT MANAGEMENT PRACTICES
Project goals and objectives as defined during the initiation of the project by such activities as planning, by the regional ITS architecture and other project studies.
Stakeholder expectations as expressed by management, funding providers, plus internal and external organizations, such as engineering, operations, and maintenance.
System's owner Policy and Procedures will provide valuable and sometimes mandatory guidance from the agency.
Project Plan & SEMP are prepared during the planning phase of this process and are the basis for management during the remainder of the project.
Risk management is used to analyze the viability of the project and stay ahead of the inevitable problems.
Control gates help management measure and ensure progress on the project.
Project completed is the desired outcome of this process; specifically, a project completed on schedule, within budget, and to the satisfaction of the stakeholders. Note: a too perfect record in this area is prime evidence of undershooting estimates. Or, to put it colloquially, padding the plan.
Planning performs the following activities:
Execution is putting the Project Plan /SEMP into motion and ensuring each activity in the plan is set up to accomplish its assigned tasks. Execution has to do with anticipating the needs for each activity. Execution ensures that the activities do not run into problems which will need after-the-fact intervention.
Monitoring involves measuring the progress of each activity to assess its progress according to the plan. In general, activities can be measured by their products, by their expenditures, and by their performance according to the schedule. Expenditures and time are direct measures. More difficult is measuring the progress on products, but if a product can be broken down into parts, then overall progress can be measured by assessing the incremental completion of the parts. Interactive communication with the team is often the best way to get a feel for their progress.
When monitoring indicates a problem, project management must act to control and rectify the situation. Intervention most often involves the adjustment of activities based on the affect of the problem.
Provides the team continuous feedback and information on progress, issues, goals, objectives and vision of the project. Keeping the team informed and up-to-date and progress.
The Project Plan/SEMP must be considered "living" documents. Progress on the project activities will never go exactly as planned. The experiences of the preceding activities must be used to modify remaining activities.
Where does Project Management take place in the project timeline?
Is there a policy or standard which includes Project Management? [Reference: PMI: BOK]
FHWA Final Rule does not specifically mention general project management practices to be followed. CMMI and PMI provide best practices in this area.
Which activities are critical for the system's owner to do?
In general, project management cannot be delegated to others. Of course, contractors will be required to have their own project management [which must be defined in their own Project Plan or equivalent]. Even then the system's owner must still manage the activities of the contractor. Major project management activities include:
How do I fit these activities to my project? [Tailoring]
Project planning is one of the most highly tailored of all the project processes. In fact, the purpose of the planning step is to tailor the agency's project management practices to the specifics of the project.
It is not uncommon for newer project managers to either over-plan or under-plan their project. With experience, it will become easier to develop project plans that are commensurate to the scope of the project. A plan that matches the scope will also maximize the usefulness of the information contained in the plan. A few guidelines are:
What should I track in this process step to reduce project risks and get what is expected? [Metrics]
On the technical side:
Progress in the preparation of activity deliverables and the analysis needed to prepare those deliverables
On the project management side:
Checklist: Are all the bases covered?
|Are the project's goals and objectives clear? Are they defined sufficiently to support project planning?
|Are the task descriptions, as well as the identification of inputs and outputs prepared for the project activities?
|Are the task descriptions, as well as the cost and time estimates being prepared by people familiar with the underlying processes?
|Are the task descriptions, budget, and schedule accepted by the performing organizations?
|Do the financial tracking processes provide accurate and timely information on team expenditures?
|Are regular, periodic [usually weekly] meetings being held with each active task team?
|Do these meetings review progress on the activity by looking at the preparation of products [outputs], expenditures, and progress relative to the schedule?
|When a problem is encountered, are intervening actions done in a timely and effective manner?