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Project plan is an essential component of any project management as it enables effective utilization of the available resources and is also beneficial in ensuring that the stages of the project is undertaken as per the deadlines defined. It is quintessential that the planning process be undertaken after thorough evaluation of the subsequent environment so as to identify the key areas where the incidence of improvement and remedial measures would enable the progress of the project to be aligned with the strategic objectives defined for the project. The significance of planning is felt most in the case of infrastructure projects and regional developments as it involves huge sums of investments being made and any flaw in the respective stage would not only delay the progress of the project but it would also lead to loss being incurred in terms of the delay in the completion deadline of the project. It is therefore crucial that the stakeholders to a project participate actively in the decision making process of the project in order to track the value of their investments and also to assure that the progress is being achieved as per the plans defined for it.
In light of these understandings, it is important to highlight the aim of the project planning wherein the goals of the project management are to meet the customer's expectation and to meet the business needs. This project was based on the STMP project initiated in the region of Al Ain where the Department of Transport has undertaken the measures to commence work on the development of the Surface Transport Master Plan. The study would highlight the challenges being witnessed in the planning and management of this project and subsequently, appropriate recommendations would be made by analyzing the effectiveness of the suggestions in the context of the Surface Transport Master Plan.
Background to the Project:
The Department of Transport initiated the development of the transport system in the region of Al Ain, UAE where the efforts were dedicated to the development in the form of the Surface Transport Master Plan. This project is expected to span 20 years wherein various stages would be completed and brought into operational usage as per the plan defined by the DoT. The strategy of DoT is diagrammatically depicted as:
Figure 1: DoT Strategy
Al Ain STMP was initiated by the department of Transport in 2010 to achieve the following strategic goals;
Economic- Promotion of the economic competiveness and vitality through the implementation of efficient, high quality transport services for passengers and freight
Social / Cultural- Protection and enrichment of the lives of the people by maximizing safety and enabling wider accessibility to all the concerned entities.
Environment- Delivering globally leading performance in accordance with environmental sustainability, through responsible use of resources, minimizing pollution and preserving the unique environment
The achievement of Al Ain STMP's strategic goals will ultimately allow the Department of Transport to achieve following strategic objectives:
Reducing congestion and enhancing mobility within the Emirate of Abu Dhabi.
Enhancing transport safety and security in coordination with key stakeholders.
Providing high quality and reliable transport services to all areas within the Emirate.
Establishing an effective and efficient transport sector that responds to the rapid growth of Abu Dhabi's economy.
Building a collaborative and result-oriented organization to achieve the set goals.
The following is the list of stakeholders to the Surface Transport Master Plan:
Bader Al Qamzi
Abdulrahman Ali Al Shizawi
Asma Al Jassmi
Abdelgader El Shabani
Ahmed Al Shaibani
Urban Planning Council
Al Ain Municipality
Al Ain Municipality
The following diagram depicts the Stakeholders to the Project:
Figure 2: Stakeholders of Al Ain STMP
The following objectives have been defined for the project:
Identifying the key areas / aspects of the stages as well as overall scenario of the STMP.
Evaluating the identified aspects for determining the challenges to the development of STMP.
Evaluating the effectiveness of the alternatives identified for addressing the issues in the most relevant manner.
Providing recommendations for the development of the STMP project in keeping with the current and future trends.
Analyzing the effectiveness of the recommendations in order to ensure the compliance with the key requirements of the STMP project.
Scope of the Project:
The scope of the project is specific to but not limited to the identification of the key areas of the STMP project. This project would identify and analyze the challenges facing the development of the development plan of STMP.
Roles and Responsibilities:
The following is the description of the roles and responsibilities of the Team:
Anan Al Amri - Project Manager
Amer Ali Al Sumaiti - Strategic Planning Specialist
Khadija Al Rubaei - Strategic Planning Specialist
Khalifa Al Rumaithi - Stakeholder Management Specialist
Ali Muzahem - Quality and Risk Control Specialist
Mohamed Al Obaidi - Training Specialist
My Role and Responsibilities:
My role and responsibilities in team pertained to the Strategic Planning Aspect of the project. The various aspects of my role were inclusive of:
Identification and agreement on the project scope. The project scope will tell us what are the objectives and targets of the project. If we don't know what we want to achieve then we cannot plan for it.
Identification of the project's constraints such as time line or budgetary specifications.
Identification of the members' roles and responsibilities for the determination of the project structure.
The project work break down into tasks and sub tasks, to simplify project planning and allocating resources to it.
The methodology adopted for this project involved the conduction of the interviews with the Project Sponsor and 'Al Ain STMP' project team. These interviews were conducted in accordance with the tasks that were allocated to them in the project plan. The Project Manager constantly emailed and frequently met with the team members to acquire updates on their tasks and if needed any support, and also a meeting request was sent to the Project Sponsor along with the team member that requested for more information regarding the Al Ain STMP project.
The sources of the information which were obtained with respect to the development of the project in keeping with the responsibilities allocated are as follows:
One to one meetings
Website (designed and under development)
Findings and Results Obtained:
Al Ain STMP project team was able to follow the original work program in terms of tasks and outputs. However, the duration of tasks was extended most often due to non-availability of data from external sources. The most serious of these issues, which accounted for the majority of the project delay, was the provision of land use and population forecasts by the Urban Planning Council. A second cause of delay was the time taken for approvals and feedback from other DoT divisions. In general the management of technical tasks with no external inputs required such as engineering design of modeling went well and as planned. (Please refer to Appendix A)
There was a quality control element to the bi-weekly meeting held throughout the study duration. The relevant project deliverables were included on the agenda for the meeting and it was agreed on the person who would be reviewing the project deliverables and the determination of the acceptable standard was also undertaken. (Please refer to Appendix A)
A risk management plan and risk register was established for the study (in-line with DoT requirements). This identified the risks facing the projects and their potential impacts and mitigations. The risk register was reviewed periodically at the project control meetings. (Please refer to Appendix B)
The team members went through difficulties in obtaining certain information due to the Project Sponsors availability which delayed the team project, techniques learned from CMI Module 2 workshop instructors was implemented such as time management and information gathering by asking the right questions to the Project Sponsor to help continue the project until its completion, and experience was gained when working together in a team from different departments. The conduction of the study greatly benefited me in applying my understanding of strategic planning to a highly comprehensive development project and this has enabled me to undertake the challenges pertaining to the planning process in organizations.
The involvement of the stakeholder should be undertaken in the "Al Ain STMP Project".
The Stakeholder Management as an section in the DOT will be one of the best options and it can be included under the Strategic Planning Division to cover up the Stakeholders management from a corporate level perspective.
For better project execution, the management should have assigned a dedicated project team for Al Ain STMP.
To ensure successful planning and execution for the project, a proper project management methodology such as PRINCE 2 or PMI should have been followed.
Adequate training should also be imparted to the employees by means of which they would be empowered to execute their tasks diligently and alignment would be made between the efforts of the employees and the strategic objectives of the project.
Effect of the Recommendation:
The recommendations have specifically enabled the efforts of the project members to be aligned with the strategic objectives and it also enabled the members to execute their learned skills in the planning as well as management of the project. The recommendations also enabled the project management to identify its shortcomings and enabled it to target the key areas of improvement in a better manner by means of which the current strategies were revised to accommodate the recommendations made in this project. Moreover a greater emphasis was maintained on the adherence to strategic planning with respect to the progress of the STMP project.
Reduce congestion and enhance mobility
% of specified corridors with traffic volume/capacity ratio greater than 0.9
Average daily passenger trips by public transport per 100,000 population in urban areas
Average peak-period travel time on Abu Dhabi Island for specified corridors
Annual public transport trips as a % of total motorized trips in urban areas
Enhance safety and security
No. of bus crashes with driver at fault per 100,000 operational bus-kms
No. of road fatalities per 100,1000 population
No. of severe road injuries per 100,000 population
Provide high-quality, reliable transport services
Customer satisfaction with bus, taxi, parking, water transport
No. of ferry safety/security incidents reported
% of population with access to public transport in urban areas (public transport stop within 300 m)
Enable an effective and efficient transport sector for the growth of Abu Dhabi's economy
% initiative expenditure variance; % operation budget variance
% initiatives executed on time
Al Ain STMP Project key risks are:
The new DOT transport model STEAM, published for official studies use just before the project start with couple of months.
Disagreement to the preferred option: Using identified robust assessment and arranging pre workshop meetings with key stakeholders.
Too many parallel tasks: 6 separate teams undertaking parallel tasks coordinated through the project manager.
Not enough time to prepare the final document following the workshop: Early preparation of 3 of the 5 chapters and a robust review procedure agreed.
Late land use changes: The latest land uses were modelled to consider the impact in the final preferred option.
Definition of Population and land-use scenarios by UPC.
The need to understand detailed junction improvements for safeguarding: Additional modelling work being undertaken in parallel to the main project tasks on up to 20 junctions.
Maintaining relationship with key stakeholders
Effective interface & timing with other initiatives:
DOT (e.g Pedestrian & Bike, Bus and Freight Master Plans)