Manage India features the PMI India Best Project
of the Year 2012 awardees. Conferred at the PMI India National
Conference in Chennai in September, the award-winning projects
displayed mature project management practices that helped overcome
complex technical, socio-political, and vendor and people management
challenges. From a government project that won over stakeholders by
creating a positive work environment after a troublesome start, a
government nodal agency that facilitated the setting up of Asia’s
largest solar power generation facility in record time, a private
sector company that delivered a project within tough timelines, and a
social sector organization that employed management principles in its
efficient running, there was great variety on display in terms of
project type, challenges faced, and benefits received.
By Geetha Rao
Hydro Electric Project, Tehri Hydro Development Corporation
PMI India Best Project of the Year (long duration: 3+ years)
The Koteshwar Hydro Electric Project is a part of the Tehri Hydro
Complex. Situated in Uttarakhand, the Koteshwar project had gone
off-track due to rehabilitation and resettlement (R&R) issues. The
land could not be provided to contractors till 2006, though the project
was awarded in 2002 and expected to be completed in 2006. Restarting on
the project meant restoring faith among the contractors, identifying
dedicated staff, taking speedy decisions, handling crises situations,
and the like.
The challenges were many. The R&R challenge had been done in a
piecemeal manner initially, and evacuation done in April 2005.
Complaints from villagers regarding blasting and dust made matters
worse. In addition, the rates of steel and cement had increased.
Therefore, contractors wanted a revision of rates.
The dam raised to full height as seen in June 2010. The Koteshwar Hydro
Electric Project in Uttarakhand is considered a role model in the
industry, having faced several challenges and overcome them
In 2007, a major decision was taken – to work upfront on the project at
the risk and cost of the contractor. An empowered committee was
constituted with vast powers. This resulted in speedy decisions, cash
flow, and timely payments. There was a new positivity at work.
“We started with an analysis of the requirements,” said Mr. D V Singh,
then director, technical, THDCIL. One big challenge was non-payment of
contractors’ dues. Besides, suppliers were not ready to provide
materials. This led to a lack of mobilization – equipment and machinery
were idle; there were no communication facilities; there were no street
lights for working at night; and the batching plant and crushing plant
were insufficient. In all, only Rs. 99 crore worth of work had been
accomplished out of the Rs. 334 crore contracted for.
“We started almost from scratch in April 2007. We began with
identifying problems, treatment, and execution. For execution, we chose
employees with a track record of positivity at work, and with the
ability to work hard and with enthusiasm. The entire work was divided
on a grid basis. To regain a reposing of faith in us, we assured
suppliers that payment would be made directly to them from THDC. The
next month, they were given the full payment. This restored their faith
in us,” said Mr. Singh.
Problems were identified and corrected to the microscopic level. Even
if they were a nut and bolt short, it could stall progress. A chain of
officers were assigned tasks. The tasks were monitored every day. This
was followed by a review very month. A complete team of experts from
all relevant sections put in place – from design, personnel, building
and roads, support systems, electrical, and backup systems. “To our
relief, the system started working. With the dedicated team, we
executed Rs. 600 crore out of the Rs. 650 crore work in three and a
half years,” Mr. Singh added.
The targets were broken into smaller parts. Workers were given
incentives for targets achieved. An example: if a certain task was
completed by a given date, the incentive was Rs 50,000 for 25 workers.
If there was a delay of a week, the incentive was Rs. 25,000. If the
delay was for 15 days, there was no incentive. The atmosphere of
competition created among the workers was so positive that the talk at
camps was about targets. The questions often were about how much each
had completed. Every day, there was a discussion of site problems
between 6 and 7pm, when suggestions were taken from all, including
project officers. A team spirit also evolved. The entire Koteshwar team
got together with families and celebrated once in two months.
Supplies were also tracked to speed up the process. “Usually, civil
works are taken up first and then electromechanical and hydromechanical
works. But we couldn’t wait for that and started civil and mechanical
work simultaneously,” said Mr. Singh. With such innovative execution,
the project was completed in three and a half years.
However, the project was not without crises. At one point, there was
flooding due to continuous heavy rain. All the equipment in the
powerhouse was submerged. “We dewatered, cleaned, and dehumidified all
components. We spent only Rs. 35 crore on refurbishing that was covered
by insurance,” explained Mr. Singh. The restoration work was done on a
war footing. Two units of the project were commissioned in March 2011
ahead of schedule as envisaged after the flooding.
“Never before in the history of any hydro project in India had the
entire project been executed and commissioned on the risk and cost of
the contractor. We are now a role model in the industry,” said Mr.
Starting almost from scratch and backed by an empowered committee with
vast powers, speedy decision making, cash flow, and a new positivity at
work, problems were identified and corrected to the microscopic level
at the Koteshwar project.
Mr. S P Aggarwal, head, monitoring, THDC, who had looked after the
management systems during the project, explained, “We used Oracle’s
Primavera, a project management tool, with which we made an elaborate
project schedule of 5,500 activities. There were review meetings,
monthly and fortnightly. We took charge of giving supplies on time,
though our main task was to chase supplies. All this resulted in speedy
execution. The director technical and the chairman and managing
director were apprised of the daily progress. We created history with
the speedy execution.”
Would he use the project management approach elsewhere? “Yes, we have
started on the second stage of the Tehri project. We have taken a step
ahead by using an online monitoring system through which all the
project personnel are connected online,” he explained.
Park, Gujarat Power Corporation Limited
PMI India Best Project of the Year (medium duration: 1-3 years)
The Solar Park in Charanka, Patan district in Gujarat, is considered to
be the world’s first multi-facility, multideveloper, multi-beneficiary,
and multi-technology solar park. It is also Asia’s largest solar park.
Visualized, planned, and implemented in a record time of less than a
year, the formal launch was in December 2010 and the park was
commissioned on 28 January 2012.
This was achieved despite the several challenges the Gujarat Power
Corporation Limited (GPCL) faced during the planning and development
processes. GPCL is the nodal agency for the development of the solar
park and has been playing the role of developer and catalyzer in the
energy sector in Gujarat. It identifies power projects and suitable
private joint sector parties and implements them. After the power
project is identified, GPCL obtains all the clearances required and
pursues the formalities related to the acquisition of land.
The Solar Park in Gujarat, is said to be the world’s first
multifacility, multi-developer, multi-beneficiary, and multi-technology
solar park, besides being Asia’s largest solar park.
In the case of the Solar Park, the location had to be at a nonfertile
place that received a high level of sunlight. Charanka in Patan
district fitted the bill.
The infrastructure included plotting of the government land,
constructing a 16 km road for connectivity plus secondary and interior
roads. Water was an important element. The area was low-lying, which
made it prone to flooding. But the problem was solved by diverting
water into a canal. GPCL also constructed a facility for water
treatment. In addition, it provided auxiliary power for
air-conditioning, lighting inside the facility, and street lighting,
besides telecom and Internet connections.
GPCL employed the services of a project management consultant for the
project. “We followed project management throughout the project. We
wanted to make sure that the various parties involved in the project’s
development faced no problems that would delay the project. We met them
every week and took fast decisions to solve any problems that cropped
up,” said Mr. PH Rana, director, GPCL. For prompt decision-making, the
company had a team of experienced officials on the site at all times to
By commissioning the Solar Park, GPCL has helped put to use vast areas
of government wasteland and generated rural employment. In addition,
there has been a reduction in carbon emission and a recharge of ground
water. On 28 January 2012, GPCL commissioned 214 MW of solar power. The
project employed 10,000 workers for almost three months. About 1,000
are now employed for operations and security purposes.
Mr. Rana avers that when GPCL moves into the next phase of the solar
park, the organization will build on its experience of project
management for even better results.
Expansion, Sriperumbudur Industrial Belt, Tamil Nadu, C B Richard Ellis
PMI India Best Project of the Year (short duration: less than one
CBRE undertook a project to expand the warehouse space at the Dell
India Customer Care (ICC) factory facility in Chennai by an additional
73,000 sq feet. The project took off in January 2011 and had to be
completed by September 2011 - in just nine months. CBRE successfully
completed the project, and won the PMI award for 2012 under the
short-term category. The new facility had to come up on a plot
adjoining the existing facility, which was a fully operational
production/assembly center. This meant that the new structures and
enclosure had to be seamlessly integrated into the old one. The old
office shared a common wall with the new building, which meant care had
to be taken to ensure operations at the existing building did not get
CBRE broke open a portion of the common wall to align the columns of
the new building with the existing ones. A broken all led to security
concerns from Dell. CBRE cut open a 1m by 1m opening at a height of 1.5
m in the wall to facilitate the changes. The opening was then closed in
the presence of security staff.
CBRE conducted parallel activities so that there was no delay. The team
tracked progress closely and took immediate action to mitigate delays.
Another challenge was the requirement to complete the enclosure by May
2011. The plant is situated in a Special Economic Zone (SEZ) set up by
the government. The project had to adhere to the SEZ agreement of
completing the spending for the project by end May 2011. If not, the
tax benefits of the existing facility and the new facility would be
limited or reduced.
Dell knew that the entire facility would not be ready in two months.
But the company wanted to inaugurate the facility by 2 May. The overall
project was scheduled to be completed only by July first week. However,
the building had to be substantially completed and the spending
commitment met by early May when the SEZ authorities would visit the
facility. CBRE helped Dell honor that commitment and handed over the
facility after having completed the shell and core of the building with
flooring and partial lighting arrangements.
Every aspect of the project was planned meticulously. CBRE conducted
parallel activities so that there was no delay from waiting for
components. Even as the onsite work of laying the foundation continued,
production work for prefabricated steel structure was in progress. The
team tracked progress closely and took immediate action to mitigate
Mr. Gurjot Bhatia, senior executive director, project management group,
CBRE India, said, “We offer project management as a service to our
clients across India. We have seen that whenever project management
techniques are used, cost, time, quality, safety, and project
communication are handled effectively. Project management is a
necessity, not a choice. We have used project management techniques for
all our projects, totalling 100 million sq ft of industrial,
commercial, retail, hospitality, and residential space.”
In general, projects accrue monetary benefits by using project
management. “In the absence of project management, no one can predict
project quality, whether the project will be completed on time, and
within the budget planned. Project management brings much needed
management control and direction to a project. This is a holistic
approach, because you are not looking only at quality or cost. It
brings together experts from various disciplines, such as mechanical
engineering, electrical engineering, and safety experts, who bring
their individual experiences to the table. A project manager is able to
leverage all these experts and make them work towards the common
project goals. The other aspect is risk management. Project risk
assessment is often overlooked in India, and the project is left to its
own fate. We can overcome all these risks by following project
management techniques,” said Mr. Bhatia.
PMI India Contribution to the Community Award 2012
From a rented house with five children to a school that provides free
education to thousands of first generation learners from
underprivileged backgrounds, as well as a rural healthcare center, an
old age home, and a goshala (cow shelter), Sevalaya in Kasuva, near
Chennai is testimony to what one can achieve if only one dares to dream
and has the commitment to turn it into reality. Sevalaya has all this
in good measure, started as it was in 1988 by Mr. V Muralidharan,
founder and managing trustee of the organization, and his friends.
What is also commendable is the way in which all this has been
achieved: Mr. Muralidharan and his team at Sevalaya believe in planning
to the minutest detail, goal-setting in a participatory manner,
ownership of goals, monitoring and review of activities, followed by
correction. As Mr. Muralidharan put it, “At Sevalaya, we believe that
clear vision backed by systematic planning and execution results in
success.” It’s no wonder that the organization won the PMI India
Contribution to the Community Award 2012.
Children at Sevalaya, near Chennai, waiting to do their exam in the
computer room. Sevalaya, which started in a rented house several years
ago, now runs a school that has provided free education to thousands of
first generation learners from underprivileged backgrounds, as well as
a rural healthcare center, an old age home, and a cow shelter.
Here’s a detailed look at Sevalaya’s efficiency: Every year, there’s an
exercise that takes off, around February-March, the teaching staff,
hostel staff, administration, and students make a list of suggestions
about what they want done the next academic year. This is compiled.
“Later, during the strategy week in the last week of April, we discuss,
brainstorm, improve on the suggestions, and reject those not feasible,”
explained Mr. Muralidharan.
The suggestions automatically become goals for the six groups at
Sevalaya, based on their responsibilities: the Mahakavi Bharathiar
group handles education, the Mahatma Gandhi group looks after
extra-campus activities, and the Swami Vivekananda group looks after
the campus maintenance and hostel. The other three are support groups:
administration, accounts, and public relations.
As the goals are discussed by all and accepted, and not imposed on
them, the groups own the goals. Within each group, there are individual
goals. With such ownership of goals comes commitment. “To achieve the
goals, there is discussion on what the actions to be taken are, who
takes them, and by when they should be achieved. All these are compiled
in a calendar. A completed calendar shows all the activities planned
for the entire year. By 1 June, when the academic year starts, a copy
of the calendar is given to the staff,” says Mr. Muralidharan.
The team at Sevalaya believes in meticulous planning, goal setting,
monitoring and review of activities, and has achieved tremendous
success in all its initiatives, winning over 40 awards so far.
Providing vocational training is one of the core activities at
Sevalaya, of which one is tailoring.
Following this, every morning the teaching staff meets for 10 minutes,
and every night, the hostel staff meets. Every Saturday, the week is
reviewed. The trustees meet every month to review the progress. On the
12th or 13th of every month, there is a review with the groups. Each
staff member’s bonus or increment is based on his/her performance after
Finance is the biggest challenge since there is no committed income.
“Sevalaya depends entirely on donation, which is the responsibility of
the public relations team. Lack of finance may mean cutting down of
some events,” he explained. Sometimes, money may be donated for the
children’s home but the requirement is more for a school activity, and
hence used for that.
Mr. Muralidharan, who has put in practice learnings from his experience
in total quality management, of which several years were in Tata
Consultancy Services, concludes, “All our work is driven by a practice
that has yielded positive results. The effective management practice we
follow is plan, do, check, and act.”
That may sound simple, but in its simplicity lies its success.
Sevalaya, a social organization and not a management school, has
planned and implemented a management model that has won it accolades
and more than 40 awards. Certainly, a model that others can emulate.
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