The Sodor Terminal Project Construction Essay

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The initial phase of the Sodor project involved the formation of the project team and the nomination of the project manager. Group 12 is made up of 4 Nigerians and 1 Vietnamese which reflects a multicultural team with each nationality possessing peculiar personality traits. The objective of the first meeting was to nominate a Project Manager and to define and agree on ground rules for project team meetings. To ensure equal participation of all team members, it was agreed that the rotational project manager system will be adopted whereby each individual in the group would serve as the project manager for 1 week each throughout the 5 week duration of the Sodor project. It was agreed that meetings will be scheduled 3 times a week by the project manager lasting no more than 2 hours each. At each meeting, specific tasks is assigned to each team member to be submitted at the next meeting day.

CONTRACTOR SELECTION CRITERIA

The contractor selection criteria adopted by the team is the Trade-off technique. This technique uses a scoring system to quantify specific attributes of the various contractors and provides a numerical output, the highest of which represents the best contractor choice. The use of this technique provided the best possible contractors to manage the various stages of this project.

CONSTRUCTION AND CLOSE OUT

The close out process involved a review of the final Sodor terminal project plan to confirm scope, cost and schedule deadlines have been met. The lesson learned document was then prepared which showed the various conflicts that occurred throughout the project and how they where managed by the team in order to provide lessons for the future. The final project plan was then presented to the project sponsor and the Group 12 team was deformed by the project manager. We were able to arrive at a final project cost of £7,356,123 and at a time of completion of 90.93 weeks. This can be mainly attributed to the fact that we used the TRADE OFF technique for contractor selection. The trade off technique provided an objective way of selecting contractors using a set of rank scores.

Projected Cost

Actual Cost

Projected Time of completion(PTC)

Actual time of completion(ATC)

Profit(3% of Actual cost)

Bonus

16000*(PTC-ATC)

Total Profit(Profit +Bonus)

7,361,000

7,356,123

98 weeks

90.93 weeks

220,684

113,120

333,804

INTRODUCTION

Teamwork has been found to be an essential ingredient responsible for the success or failure of projects. The effective use and management of teams for projects has been noted to be a key determinant for how successful a project will be; however, the effectiveness of a team depends on the ability of the team members to interact appropriately with one another to produce a common output.

DEFINITION

Hoegl(2004) defined teams as a social interaction between two or more people within an organization who share a common task. Teams have also been described as a group of people who hold themselves mutually accountable to each other and who work together to achieve a common purpose(Scholtes et al,2003). The above definitions take into account the fact that for a team to exist, certain basic ingredients need to be in place which include; mutual accountability, constancy of purpose, and a shared responsibility for success or failure. The benefits of teamwork in project management cannot be overemphasized. Teams help in the mobilization of diverse resources to a project as compared to that achieved by a single individual. Church(1998) also noted that teams provide the flexibility to use the mobilized resources thus helping to continue with the project in the event of a particular individual being indisposed. Perhaps the greatest value of teams in managing projects rests with the ability of teams to provide a synergy of the efforts of the individual team members whereby the results achieved is greater than the arithmetic sum of the contributions of the individual members to the team.

FACTORS THAT AFFECTED TEAM EFFECTIVENESS OF SODOR OIL TERMINAL PROJECT

PLANNING AND DESIGN

The need to have a plan for the management of the Sodor oil terminal cannot be overemphasized. Grachev et al(2006) using 3M corporation as a case study proposed that a key benefit of planning upfront for a project is the creation of well defined project goals. The goals help to give direction to a teams project. Other benefits of planning include; it helps the team members in the coordination of individual tasks by providing clearly stated assignments. Furthermore, the project plan also enables the team to have an overview of the project schedule, costs and constraints which the team can then use as a baseline to measure actual project progress.

The planning and design of the Sodor oil terminal started with the identification of the Cost, Schedule and Scope goals from the data derived from the Project Sponsor. These goals where then integrated into a sequential structure by the use of the MS Project® to produce the Sodor oil terminal preliminary Gantt chart. The final Sodor oil terminal plan is a comprehensive document showing the actual budget, time of completion, scope of the project, and the approved contractors selected for the project. Christina(2009) proposed that key factors that affect team success at the planning and design phase include;

A. Well-Defined Goals: The definition of clear project deliverables has been shown to improve the success rate of project teams. Pinto and Slevin(1988) proposed that clearly defined and structured goals is a significant factor that determines the effectiveness of teams and hence the success rate of projects. Zander(1980) postulated that teams with clear and measurable goals perform better than teams with fuzzy goals. This is as a result of the use of clear goals by teams as a baseline through which team results can be measured. Furthermore, the use of clear and concise goals also helps the team in planning for what they can achieve within a particular timeframe. The goals of the Group 12 team where clearly stated and well defined at the onset of the project which was to deliver a project plan within 98 weeks at no more than the stated project budget provided by the project sponsor.

B. Management Support: Pinto and Slevin(1988) suggested that the support upper management gives a team helps in facilitating team success. This occurs by facilitating the release of resources to the project team hence ensuring their efficiency and helping to remove administrative bottle necks. Group 12 received the support of the project sponsor in the designing of the sodor plan especially with respect to weekly review meetings to assess the current status of the project plan and proffer ways to bring the plan back on track.

C. Cross-Cultural teams: The importance of having multiple individuals from different cultures in a team has been proposed to impact positively on team results(Earley and Mosakowski,2000). Ochieng and Price(2009) also suggested that the effective use of proper communication techniques to handle cultural differences in a team helps in promoting project success. Multiple cultures in a team brings together people with different skills, competencies, and personal attributes dedicated to a common purpose. The multicultural environment of Group 12 provided a pool of diverse ideas derived via brainstorming from which the best possible solution was agreed on and translated into the Sodor project plan.

D. Team experience and continuity: Pinto and Slevin(1988) suggested that the inclusion of individuals with specific project experience into a team helps in promoting its success. This is because this individuals already have a knowledge of the critical factors needed to ensure the success of the particular project from the lessons learned from past projects managed by them. Scott-Young(2009) suggested that the stability of a team throughout the project lifecycle helps in ensuring team success. Stable teams have been shown to maintain the consistency of ideas generation and are not susceptible to the distraction that tends to occur from a team member joining or leaving the team(Akgun and Lynn,2000). The use of team members with a wide range of experience managing projects like healthcare, education, and engineering played a key role in the results of Group 12. This is due to the diverse nature of the knowledge pool available for planning the project. The stability of the Group 12 team throughout the project lifecycle also played a key role in the design of the sodor project plan.

E. Clear decision making processes: The process of making decisions and the ability to make the best decision is key to the success or failure of a project team. The presence of uncertainty in projects and the consequences of making the wrong decisions are key motivators for adopting a decision making process at the planning stage of the project. In line with the techniques proposed by Brahm and kleiner(1996), two strategies where adopted and utilized by Group 12. The strategies include the Brainstorming technique and the Brainwriting technique. The process involved the wild generation of ideas and the writing of those ideas on a piece of paper from which the group then agrees on the best idea possible. This technique was applied in the process of choosing the project manager and also in the contractor selection process; It contributed to the overall success of the planning stage of this project.

CONSTRUCTION AND CLOSEOUT

A. Handling Conflicts: The absence of conflicts in a team has been proposed to be a pointer to the failure of the team(Saj-Nicole and Damon,2009). The presence of conflicts and how the conflicts are managed indicates how successful the project team will be. Several conflicts arose during the management of Group 12; an example will be the, Who to choose as the project manager? The way it was managed was to have a face to face meeting with the project team, everybody laying their individual ideas on the table, then arriving at a decision mutually beneficial to everyone which is to have a rotational project manager system with each member of the project team 'having a taste of the pie' of being the project manager for 1 week each. This solution helped during the construction phase of the plan because all the team members felt a sense of belonging and making a positive contribution to the team.

B. Leadership Continuity: The proposal by Akgun and Lynn(2000) on the positive benefits of leadership continuity to the project team success is largely not applicable to the Group 12 project team. This is because the use of a single leader throughout the project lifecycle will have led to the presence of domineering tendencies being shown by the individual chosen which may affect certain decisions made during the formulation of the construction plan. It may also have led to project team members being made to feel they are not a part of the team. Hence in a bid to avoid this scenario, the rotational project manager system was proposed and adopted.

C. Resource availability: The availability of resources plays a major role in the ability of a team to produce results. Peters and O'Connors(1980) postulated that the availability of specific resources can either promote or interfere with a team effectiveness. The resources needed by a team to be effective varies depending on the project scope. It may include financial, Human, and Environmental resources.

D. Reward and Recognition: The relationship between appropriate reward structures and team effectiveness cannot be overemphasized(Bullock and Lawler,1984). Developing a reward system that focuses on the entire team rather than individuals help in improving team motivation and hence its effectiveness. It is a fact that people are motivated to achieve results if they feel that the results provide value to the organization and this value is acknowledged by the organization.

E. Lessons-learned documentation: The preparation of the lessons learned document is an essential part of the project team closure phase(PMI,2008). The lessons learned document captures the lessons learned at various milestones in the planning of the project. The final meeting of the Group 12 team was a brainstorming and brainwriting session to identify various challenges we had during the creation of the Sodor project plan and how the challenges where managed.

CONCLUSION

This paper details how the Group 12 team managed the Sodor project from design to the closeout phase. It explains in detail the various factors responsible for the success of the team in arriving at the final project plan; and also the various challenges Group 12 team had and how those challenges where managed to produce positive results. The paper sheds light on the key factors that affected various stages of the project and how they where harnessed and utilized positively by the Group 12 team.

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