Project Management: The Efficiency of the Process

Vibrantcy is passionate about energy efficiency and innovative design to optimize the efficiency of the building envelope.  In fact, on Vibrantcy’s website, there is a page that explains our holistic approach to innovative and efficient design: Mechatecture.  “It is an engineering design process to reduce building loads and resultant energy use, through site-specific architectural systems, which act as supplementary or primary HVAC.   Mechatecture relies on creative expertise among thermodynamics, mechanical engineering, and thermal comfort design while understanding seasonal and diurnal climatic conditions. No two Mechatecuture solutions are exactly the same, many of which incorporate renewable energy sources, but in whole require diligent communication among all affected project team members.”

You may ask, what does project management have to do with energy and efficiency? Vibrantcy believes that well-executed project management is the efficient and effective process to providing efficient and effective energy-saving design solutions.

 According to PMI, Project Management Institute, “Project management is the application of knowledge, skills, tools, and techniques to a broad range of activities in order to meet the requirements of a particular project.”

 Effective project management bridges science and common sense in that it provides a structured, very standardized approach to running and making a project successful.  But while budgeting and planning are needed, the focus for a successful project depends on the project manager’s ability to focus on the relationships, communication and guiding people to do things in a collaborative setting.

 

The five phases of project management include:

1.     Project Initiation:  This phase is when the project is defined at a broad level.  This is when Vibrantcy staff would assess the project to see if it is feasible and if the project should be undertaken.  If our staff determines feasibility,  the purpose and requirements of the project will be created. It includes our business needs, stakeholders, and the business case.

2.     Project Planning: This phase is key to successful project management and focuses on developing a roadmap that everyone will follow. This phase typically begins with setting goals. Vibrantcy sets CLEAR goals, a method for setting goals that takes into consideration the environment of today’s fast-paced and economy focused businesses. We strive to make our goals Collaborative – The goal should encourage employees to work together. Limited – They should be limited in scope and time to keep it manageable. Emotional – Goals should tap into the passion of employees and be something they can form an emotional connection to. This can optimize the quality of work. Appreciable – Break larger goals into smaller tasks that can be quickly achieved. Refinable – As new situations arise, be flexible and refine goals as needed.

 This is the phase where Vibrantcy identifies the cost, quality, available resources, and a realistic timetable. Our plan also includes establishing baselines or performance measures. These are generated using the scope, schedule and cost of a project. A baseline is essential to determine if a project is on track.

 This is when we also define roles and responsibilities, so everyone involved knows what they are accountable for. During the Project Planning Phase, our project team will develop the scope statement, the work breakdown schedule, the milestones, a visual timeline, communication plan and a risk management plan.  All of these elements are a combined statement that Vibrantcy understands the project and plans to deliver a top-notch project to our client. We always work together to visualize all foreseeable risks. Common risks include unrealistic time and cost estimates, customer review cycle, information technology hiccups, budget cuts, changing requirements, and lack of committed resources.

3.        Project Execution: This is the phase where deliverables are developed and completed. This often feels like the meat of the project since a lot is happening during this time, like status reports and meetings, development updates, and performance reports. A “kick-off” meeting usually marks the start of the Project Execution phase where the teams involved are informed of their responsibilities. Tasks completed during the Execution Phase include: team development, assignment of resources, execution of project management plans, procurement management if needed, our project manager directs and manages project execution, sets up tracking systems, task assignments are executed, status meetings are conducted, the schedule is updated, and the project plan is modified as needed

4.     Project Performance/Monitoring: This is all about measuring project progression and performance and ensuring that everything happening aligns with the project management plan. Vibrantcy measure project performance by measuring if a project is on schedule and budget, that specific task deliverables are being met, by accounting for the effort and cost of resources to see if the budget is on track. We also monitor changes in the project occurring from unforeseen hurdles and scope changes.  This is the phase of the project where our project manager may need to adjust the schedule and/or resources to make sure our project completion is on track.

5.     Project Closure: This phase represents the completed project. This is the phase where we recognize valuable team members and their work well-done. Once a project is complete, we usually hold a meeting to evaluate what went well in a project and identify project failures. This is especially helpful to understand lessons learned so that improvements can be made for future projects.

 We ask ourselves with each project: “are we managing our project efficiently, effectively, or both? Are we doing things right, doing right things, or doing both?” Vibrantcy strives to focus on effective and efficient project management throughout the entire lifecycle of each of our projects.

- Amy C’de Baca