The project manager should bring the team together at strategic points during the project cycle to determine what is working and what has to be fixed before moving on to the next phase. Allen recommends that there should be three goals of a retrospective: review the project from a number of different perspectives; capture and record details on what worked and what must be improved; and finally, create an action plan for implementing changes. (Allen, 2007)
Army Program Management in Afghanistan
Three field-grade U.S. military officers collaborated to produce a case study of their nation-building experiences in Afghanistan. (Ruhm, Marsh & Cooley, 2006) They argue persuasively that the use of program (project) management techniques have been helpful to the military leadership in the rebuilding of Afghanistans infrastructure, institutions, government and Army. The starting point in managing any project is to establish the “baseline,” which serves as the contract between the customer and the provider concerning cost, schedule, and performance. The authors found that documenting the baseline was essential for making decisions, but also for communicating with external (including Congress) and internal audiences. The use of scheduling techniques was useful when dealing with numerous linked and interdependent subsystems. In particular, this project was organized to increase the effectiveness of the Afghan military personnel. In that regard, the managers made use of capability milestones. “When will the Afghans stand up to the requirements of defending themselves?”
Zuquala Steel Mill
Wondimu Degnitu, head of Ethiopias Project Engineering Unit, reported on the case of the construction of a steel rolling mill in Zuquala. The Ethiopians negotiated a deal to purchase an existing steel mill in South Africa. The terms included assistance from the South Africans in moving the plant, as well as their full participation in the reassembly and turnkey operations. Degnitu dwells on the importance of detail planning of the project from gathering high level requirements down to sub-activities showing “duration, accomplishment and responsible person.
” (Degnitu, 2000)
These two cases couldnt be more different in their goals and implementation aspects. However, there are several attributes that the projects share in common. 1) the need for a contract plan: the Army called it setting down a Baseline and Zuquala referred to Overview Planning, but both recognized that it consists of “group generated ideas rather than an analytic process.” 2) Requirement for detailed planning: the Army team described the toolkit of a project manager, with its most important tool being scheduling, while Zuquala referred to detail planning and scheduling. 3) Both teams recognized the desirability of in-process reviews. Zuquala utilized daily project meetings to review potential problems and to initiate preventive and contingent actions. The Army team had to deploy its plans in a rough form as soon as possible and “then evolve and grow them into more mature and capable systems over time.” 4) Finally, there is no evidence in either case write-up that the teams actually conducted a formal closing process.
Allen, Stacy Ann (2007, July), How to Run a Project Retrospective, LDS Tech. Retrieved March 3, 2011 from https://tech.lds.org/forum/showthread.php?2564-How-to-Run-a-Project-Retrospective
Degnitu, Wondimu (2000, September), a Case Study of Zuquala Steel Rolling Mill, Journal of the ESME, Vol III, No. 1. Retrieved November 10, 2010 from http://africantechnologyformum.com/ESME/prjmgmt/Zuquala.htm
Elyse (2006, November), Closing Process Group, Anti-Clue. Retrieved March 3, 2011 from http://www.anticlue.net/archive/000736.htm
Merron, Jeff (2011), Project Management Best Practices, Studio One Networks, Retrieved March 3, 2011 from www.itbusinessnet.com/articles/viewarticles.jsp?id=1384247
PMBOK (2010), a Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge, Fourth Edition, Published by the Project Management Institute, Newtown Sq., PA
Ruhm, Brian C., Marsh, Adrian, & Cooley, William T. (2006), Building an Army — Program Management in Afghanistan. Retrieved November 10, 2010 from http://www.pmforum.org/library/cases/2006/08.htm
Standish Group, (2011), CHAOS. Retrieved March 3, 2011 from http://www.marketresearch.com/vendors/viewVendor.asp?VendorID=2514.