Managing Success with Team Work
Mr. P.P.S. Paul, general manager (projects), Indian Oil Corporation Ltd., outlines the objectives and responsibilities of each team member in a project
Success always has a strong bonding with failure. Systematic study of failures is the path towards success. Failures that we encounter while executing projects are later termed as experience. A door that leads towards success is the team.
The solar system is one of the best examples of a team, where all the members work within their limit. The team consists of small, big, and mighty members with identified jurisdiction, and follows a pre-defined system. To achieve success, we must adopt a team structure like that of the solar system. Here the client is the sun, who has all the energy and the power and bonds with other planets and satellites, which are analogous to consultants, vendors, contractors, and subcontractors.
Let us go back to the basics. The objective of the team needs to be well-defined and each member of the team needs to understand his/her contribution towards the project. Like the solar system, team members should get well distributed energy, with contributions from planets and satellites. It is the responsibility of the sun (client) to take care of the planets and satellites (consultants, contractors, and vendors). This equilibrium is important to maintain project success.
We assume all the business partners are in it to earn money. Depending upon the nature of the project, one can identify various business stakeholders. In a mega project, the stakeholders are the client, licensor, project management consultant (PMC), vendors, contractors/sub-contractors, local administration/state government/ central government, and local vendors.
For the success of the project, it is important to analyze and identify the common objective of each stakeholder, and align their goals for project success.
The client is the biggest stakeholder in the hierarchy, and its business opportunity can be realized only if the project is completed within given parameters of time schedule, cost, and quality performance. The manpower structure for managing a project is important. Team members must be positive, planners, progressive, possessive, and passionate. It is the client’s responsibility to ensure all the stakeholders get a good environment to work in.
The licensor is the link that channelizes the technology for the project. A careful and proven technology is crucial. Positive support of the licensor motivates the team. This team member works like the left side of our brain.
The PMC is like the right side of the brain. It takes care of all logical decisions, be it tendering, procurement, engineering, materials management, construction management or planning, and steers the project. The PMC coordinates with owner, licensor, vendor, and contractor, and thus maintains balance.
The selection of vendors (material suppliers) must depend on several criteria, such as its capacity to execute the designated work, financial status, concurrent orders being executed, and quality policies.
Most projects are not completed on time or fail because of erratic supply. Continuous progress monitoring with vendor and timely approvals of PMC deliver good results. It is also important to monitor timely payments to vendors. Parallel projects or overloading the vendor with too much work may also affect the project. Progress monitoring is hence important. A good vendor is supportive at the time of need, and becomes a team member if it sees reciprocation in terms of technical and financial assistance, by clearing dues and approving technical documents.
Contractors transform drawings to physical existence. If the contractor does not make proit and its employees do not get their wages, the project will not progress. Money is the basic motivation for the contractor to work. The contractor sometimes works even while facing losses because of good will. But this is not universally true. Contractors need a good working environment, continuous low of money, early decision on technical problems, positive decisions on administrative problems, rewards/penalties on early/late completion, and a patience hearing.
Contractors are equally responsible for creating a good work environment. Sometimes the contractor’s inefficiency or bad management causes delays in engineering support or material supply, and results in project delay. Timely action by the client or PMC can prevent this situation.
As far as the local administration or the government goes, a good boundary management is required to get its strong support. Such support goes a long way for local area development, security management, and administrative support.
In the end, bring all the team members on a single platform to create cohesion and an atmosphere of win-win situation. Such teams always achieve success.
(Mr. P.P.S. Paul has about 32 years of experience in managing greenfield and brownfield projects in oil refinery and petrochemical.)