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PMI India Cover Story
Winning the Day with Project Excellence
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
Koteshwar 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.

Koteshwar Hydro Electric Project in Uttarakhand
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 successfully.
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. Singh.

Koteshwar project
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.

Solar 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.

Solar Park in Gujarat
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 address problems.

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.

Dell ICC Expansion, Sriperumbudur Industrial Belt, Tamil Nadu, C B Richard Ellis

PMI India Best Project of the Year (short duration: less than one year)

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 effected.

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.

Sriperumbudur Industrial Belt, Tamil Nadu
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 delays.

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.

Mahakavi Bharathiar Higher Secondary School, Sevalaya

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.

Mahakavi Bharathiar Higher Secondary School, Sevalaya
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 the evaluation.

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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