The group developed an efficient project plan and was able to show a clear understanding of the assignment’s learning outcome. In this assignment, the main areas for group work were the creation of a project plan and the identification, as well as the demonstration of its importance. This entailed highlighting all the essential components that were required for a project plan.
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Completing the task needed a thorough plan and fixed parameters for the study. In this case, the group used Pakistan and the project area, which was in 2011 when the actual work took place. Issues of complexity and time limitation emerged after starting out with a drip irrigation system used as part of a Water Management Demonstration Farm, which led to the simplification of the project. It was possible to use the project for the assignment after simplification, where its main parts were two disjointed zones in a drip irrigation system. The project was about the installation of the system with two zones named A and B. Zone A held a mini spray system while zone B had an online dripper system, which facilitated the answering of the project’s research question. The research question was to highlight the working of different systems. Besides, the project entailed the demonstration of benefits associated with either system, with an apparent show of the better one.
Inputs for the projects included information about the location and the nature of the project, as well as the background information about the systems used. In addition, a work breakdown structure, PERT, and Grant charts helped in the preparation. In completing this report, the group made assumptions on the cost of equipment using conventional pricing. Overall, the group was able to highlight its abilities to undertake a real-life project management assignment.
The success of project management is only realised when the required tools, techniques, and knowledge combine effectively according to the expectations and demands of large-scale engineering development. It is possible to improve the chance of success of any project, something that can be achieved by being diligent in the use of a consistent methodology and ensuring that there is the commitment to a well-developed plan. This must be considered at the start of the project and while it goes on (Blanchard, 2004). The tools available for project management also help in planning, and they help the manager capture relevant details and the cost associated with different equipment and choices.
A project management plan has a scope, a work breakdown, and charts, with the basic charts being the Gantt and PERT. Each piece of the plan outlines critical parts and brings out the objectives, limitations, and precincts for the project, in addition to the itemisation of the work needed and the time required (Haughey, 2015). Efficient use of the components and following the conceptual considerations of their creation leads to a clearly outlined and organised project.
Demonstrating the usage of these tools and components needed their application in a real project, which was the primary goal of the assignment. The group task led to the choice and implementation of the design, construction, and commissioning of a drip irrigation system that was going to form part of a water management demonstration project as a fictitious project, whose costs would be estimated and some unknown parameters at the time of planning would be assumed. For high credibility, a real project implemented in 2011 was selected as the basis of the assumed one. It was a project implemented in Pakistan by High-Efficiency Irrigation System Consultants (HEISCON), which was considered as an ideal project that would be easily replicated in the fictitious project’s location of remote Western Australia.
- Title: Water Administration Demo Park Drip Irrigation System
- Client: Ministry of Food, Agriculture, and Livestock
- Project Cost: $100,000
- Duration: 19 Days
- Company: HEISCON
The project sought to design, install, and commission a drip irrigation system with the intention of irrigating 12 acres of land divided into two zones of 6 acres each. A borehole would be used as the water source to run the system, which would be developed on the site to sustain water supply and reduce operating costs. Overall, the project cost has an estimated value of $100,000 and aims to reach completion in 17 days.
Project scope description
This project, upon completion, will water land in a conservative way, thereby ensuring that overall consumption of water is minimal and other resources are also used sparingly for maximum benefit. Based on these intentions, the project uses bore water and a drip irrigation delivery system. Besides, food planted in the irrigated area will receive water throughout as the system can run 24/7.
The first requirement is surveying of the land to ensure it is suitable for use in the project and to come up with a preliminary report on what modifications are needed to make it appropriate. After surveying, the design process will begin, and it will encompass two stages of the project, which will add up to two separate areas for meeting the project’s objectives. The two parts of design differ because they are meant for different irrigation systems. Besides, there will be an installation of a filtration system that will be ahead unit for overall water supply to the cultivation field. The completion of the filtration system will mark a significant part of project completion. It will be on the basis of the system using a design that cannot let pipe blockages to occur. Therefore, there will be no design to facilitate draining of blocked pipes because the expectation is to have a blockage-proof system. Other important details are that zone A and zone B will be using similar plot layouts such that it will be possible to provide a measured opinion on the efficiency of resources in both field zones. However, since the two zones use differentiated irrigation systems, their designs will also have variations in pipe diameters and drip fittings to accommodate different requirements of water flow and to bring out efficient gains in water flow before the handover. The objective of the design process and modification of pipe diameters during implementation and design phases is to make sure that the best overall design is implemented and handed over to the client, thereby avoiding recalls and other unwanted interruptions in the system.
Limitations of the project are presented by its location, which is a remote area. The expectation is that handling and transporting materials will be difficult, given that there is missing access for a container truck or a tipper truck that could unload materials to the site. The other strenuous tasks will be excavation trenching and backfilling because of the nature of the job, but the construction team has the required knowledge and well equipped. The team will be able to pull through with the task as required. Civil works, concrete works, brickworks, and construction work that relate to water tank placement in the project will happen through sourcing third party professionals who are equipped in the respective areas of development. They will work under the supervision of the project management team. Underground pipework will be preferred in case there is a need for a road crossing, although it poses difficulties in its construction due to the need to perform drilling, excavation, and refilling on a tunnel without disturbing road surfaces. The team will handle the job successfully.
The project comes with four main parameters to fulfil, which are design, water filtration and pump system, zone A, and zone B. For each deliverable, the client will accept the design and cost estimates before installation starts, in addition to the approval of the overall design for the project. The project intends to have a hydro cyclone filter technology used for the water filtration system. It will also use a disk cleaning filter, water meter, and a non-return valve to complete the system. For zone A and zone B, the project will have four control valves and four sub-mains. Moreover, there will be 200 laterals that cover the designated 6 acres of land for each zone.
The project expects constraints to affect the delivery time and the cost of implementation. The constraints will also jeopardise the reliability of the initial design, thereby necessitating modification. One of the limitations is the time taken by the client to approve the project and particular states of implementation. Delays will affect the entire project. Another constraint is the restriction of electricity use from 9 am to 11 am and from 2 pm to 4 pm, which will compel all electrical works to be scheduled at these times. This will negatively affect the speed of other related tasks and may also cause delays in the overall project time. Sites works are limited to commence at 7 am and end at 6 pm, meaning that there will be unnecessary stops of batched work that exceeds the specified time.
Initially identified risks
The project team identifies minor risks that can affect implementation and delivery. Despite their classification as minor, they are still notable. The main ones include excavation and trip hazards. Excavation can affect underground power cables that are not labelled or piping that is unknown at the time of design. The implementing team will work closely with the local authorities to ensure that all service plans are availed before any excavation works commence. At the same time, there will be cautionary calls for workers to be careful at the construction site and the management will insist on the use of safety procedures and clothing when working to avoid trip accidents.
The project relies on fundamental aspects of its implantation, which signify progress and help to make implementation or design improvements to achieve maximum efficacy. The following are the principal milestones:
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- Designing31 May 2011
- Installation of water a filtration system and a head unit 13 May 2011
- Installation of zone A and commissioning 15 May 2011
- Installation of zone B and commissioning 18 May 2011
- Training of local operators 18 May 2011
- Handing over18 May 2011
The project will cost $100,000 as of its estimated value. The figure includes design, construction and commission, together with the first year of maintenance. Before construction, the survey and design of the project amount to $12,000, which is enough to provide sufficient resources and guidelines for progression to the construction stage. Construction covers the pump station building, which is the most delicate and expensive part of the project, requiring an estimated $28,000 to complete. Two last stages of developing zone A and zone B will cost $18,260 and $17,930 respectively. Thereafter, the project will be ready for commissioning.
The project team emphasises on configuration management because it understands the role it plays in improving the efficiency of construction. For this project, the identified areas of improvement will be the water filtration system installation job, and the marking out of construction zones A and B. These tasks will happen concurrently to save time and utilise all idle resources. When constructing the two zones, a team will be laying out the pipework to have irrigation components connected. The connection of the components will take place immediately zone construction ends. In essence, the plan is to make sure that the next part of the project commences as soon as another part ends, and the delays associated with waiting or transferring work teams through projects will not be experienced.
The project needs the approval of the client and any local authorities concerned with the licensing of construction, design, and implementation. The project also depends on approval by legal authorities for its commencement, payment, and handing over. The local authority’s approval is necessary before the project begins. The project will have a go-ahead after attaining the approval.
Work breakdown structure
Work breakdown chart
Activities and Costs of the project
Table 1: Activities and associated costs (Source: author)
|Activity||Project Area||Activity Cost|
|Outlining & design||A&B||$7,500.00|
|Pumping System setup||A&B||$29,000.00|
|Delineation of main lines||A||$900.00|
|Delineation of sub mains (4)||B||$950.00|
|Excavation (main & 4 sub-mains)||A||$4,000.00|
|Levelling (main & 4 sub-mains)||A||$2,950.00|
|Excavation 4 sub-mains||B||$4,000.00|
|Levelling of 4 sub-mains||B||$2,150.00|
|Assembly of 4 (60 mm) valve||A||$2,400.00|
|laying & jointing of (60 mm) pipe||A||$4,100.00|
|laying & jointing of (75 mm) pipe||B||$4,500.00|
|Assembly of 3 (75 mm) valves||B||$2,600.00|
|Simple lateral laying (200 nos)||A||$2,300.00|
|Simple lateral laying (250 nos)||B||$2,480.00|
|Mini sprinkler fitting||A||$1,400.00|
|Online dripper fitting||B||$2.100.00|
This project made assumptions and other considerations based on an already implemented project in Pakistan, which presented the case with some information and work-related constraints that should be dealt with in an improved way. Nevertheless, the project has made significant variations to the assumptions to make the project relevant to its adapted remote location of Western Australia. One constraint revealed in the project was the limitation of working hours to 11, which would reduce to 7 hours when electricity would be available. Since many of the tasks cannot take place without electrical power, this limitation serves as the biggest constraint worth manipulating to improve other aspects of the project delivery timeline (Mathis, 2014). The project assumes that remote locations of Australia have power supply issues; therefore, it has to put up with power rationing at times. Given that the power schedule is predictable, it is possible to plan for alternative power sources for the project to ensure that the maximum available hours for work are utilised well. A potential solution is to have a portable generator to provide electricity when the main power goes off.
The generator will have an impact on the overall cost of the project, as it has to use fuel to produce power. However, the team can alter the configuration management to ensure that light electrical works happen when the mains electricity is off whenever possible. This will have an effect of easing the load on the generator to provide lighting on the project location and cover basic electrical needs like powering appliances and tools. Efficient management of the utilisation of the two electricity sources will ensure that the project overhead costs attributed to the inclusion of the generator remain within a small fraction of the total budget. Failure to manage the costs associated with the generator or the switching time from electricity from the mains to electricity from the generator can have a significant negative impact on the total cost and the project timelines.
The project’s WBS chart and Gantt chart present an outlook of work division in its two zones. It is important to show that work on either zone depends on similar work on the other zone. An additional consideration is that this project has only two zones, yet the original one in Pakistan had six zones. In this regard, it is possible to condense works for each zone to similar batches so that the days needed for completing them are cut and the cost involved in using human resources, especially the contracted labour, remains low. An example of batching can be the demarcation of pipelines that at present is indicated as work for two days, yet it can be a single day’s work. This can happen when work on both zones is done concurrently. The task will require a higher number of workers, but it will take only a day, instead of two. Reducing the days creates additional room for shifting other work schedules throughout the project.
For example, the excavation task breaks down into several days so that the excavation team will finish early on each day. One of the reasons is to comply with the restriction on the present working hours. However, there is an opportunity of having the excavation works happening as a single task maximised with enough resources to ensure that it takes the least time possible. Targeting excavation works for condensing is important because it is a groundwork task that is a prerequisite for other tasks. Improving its completion time will reduce overall project time. The rationale of reducing the excavation time is that excavators and their operators will likely be a service billable hourly. It will make little difference in costs to have many excavators and servicemen working at the same time and using less time than to have one working for long. However, the time savings are significant (Wysocki, 2004).
Overall, increasing labourers should lead to the completion of work at an earlier time than scheduled, especially on scalable tasks like laying and joining pipelines, where unskilled labour and semi-skilled labour is required. The expectation is that implementation of these recommendations will lead to significant cost savings and time savings. Saving up for three days for the project can be a required window for the company to move into other projects (Kerzner, 2001). At the same time, the three days can be a buffer used for any delays caused by identified project risks. This could ensure that the project stays on course and meets its timelines as scheduled.
The group gave in to many challenges in the course of carrying out the assigned task. One of the challenges was on selecting the project that would be the basis for the assignment. It was necessary to move past this hurdle to accomplish the task.
The group faced difficulties in convening meetings about the project because members had different timetables and would only be available when they had breaks from other obligations. The fact that members of the group had different semester plans did not help. However, after rescheduling of activities and obligations, it was possible to have one day for meetings, wherewith all members comfortable. In the case of absentees, meeting deliberations and conclusions were passed on to the absent members. Overall, most members prioritised the group meetings over other activities to ensure the project succeeded.
The second challenge was finding a project that would provide members with sufficient information resources to use for different parameters of the project. While reviewing potential projects, the group settled for Moomba Gas Plant project that involved construction and commissioning of a compressor station at the project site, but it became apparent that realistic cost estimates based on this project were impossible. The group moved on to the Pakistan project that would allow members to use easily public information to estimate costs.
As the group changed the project midway, it encountered another challenge of time. The time spent on the previous project was a sunken cost, which also became a demoralising factor in the group. However, the time constraint was eased by the availability of all relevant data on irrigation systems around the world, which reduced the time demand for research. At the same time, group members were experienced in research due to their involvement in the previous project. They improved their speed when using research tools to come up with a good project plan.
The original plan employed in Pakistan was complicated, and there was a need to simplify it to meet the time and project constraints of the group and the assignment. There were six zones in the original project, but the group shrunk the project into two zones, so that tasks associated with its design and implementation would be simpler and take less time to accomplish. A simplified project also promised to allow deeper focus into its components and facilitate a greater understanding of the tools used in the project. The group would also avoid the task of analysing a large amount of data at the expense of project completion.
Coming up with accurate cost estimates was tough, but having experienced the difficulties of the research and facing a time constraint after abandoning the previous project seemed to motivate group members to work efficiently. The group settled for quotes of similar tasks online to ensure that there was a unified criterion used in estimating costs. In some cases, elements of the project lacked quotes online, and the group relied on conventional information about service or component costs in the market. The prices came from quotations of farming and agricultural supply companies.
The group learned some lessons as a result of undertaking this assignment. The lessons included organisational and research skills. Members learned individual and group lessons, which they will be able to use in future study and work assignments.
Organisation and collaboration emerged as important lessons, which were also addressed in the challenges section of this assignment. The group members have learned the importance of effective communication, which should be consistent and considerate of the circumstances affecting the recipient of the message. There was also a lesson in organisation and the need to make self-sacrifices to ensure the completion of a complex task is possible in a group setting. The fact that the group completed most of the final project details in less than the time that was initially allocated was commendable. The team members appreciated the importance of focus, sacrifice, and proper objectives for the group assignment. The members also learned the importance of delegation of tasks and peered supervision to ensure that the project commences as scheduled and reaches completion in time. Peer monitoring was instrumental in keep members active on their assignments and allowed members not to overlook any aspect of the project. Consistent communication by group members about the project helped to keep the project going at different stages when individual members faced difficulties in their assigned duties. Besides, it allowed members who completed their assigned tasks early to identify areas where they could help in other members’ tasks.
The group learned the need for a well-detailed project plan, which was possible after using a project plan as the basis of planning required tasks. Time allocation and association for each task, together with their respective costs provided project leaders with a detailed perspective on the work at hand. A project plan is an important tool because it serves as a checklist for all the tasks needed and their priority at different times of project implementation. The project plan ensures that all the work planned in a project is completed. It also gauges whether the project implementation team will honour completion times. The team can also use the plan to have a precise cost estimate in a detailed way so that the available funds are allocated in a judicious way and only used when required (Melton, 2008).
The use of a visual method in displaying the work breakdown schedule was instrumental in improving the understanding of tasks and their time allocation, as well as the importance in the overall project. Readers can easily use the graphical representation to visually attach costs and resources to different tasks without having to interpret large blocks of text. In this regard, the WBS Chart and PERT or Gantt charts for the whole project are useful tools for disseminating project information to different audiences in a succinct way. Moreover, the Gantt chart works well to keep all project members updated and involved in a project because it eases any confusion that might arise about project deliverables and work allocation (Lester & Lester, 2007). Members can see how individual tasks play an independent or collective role in moving the project forward. A PERT chart complements the Gantt chart and extends the details on particular tasks in a project, with an emphasis on scheduling so that a technical team can have the necessary information for proceeding with other aspects of project planning and implementation. The PERT chart highlights dependencies of tasks presented in the WBS (Lock, 2007).
Accomplishing the project as a group allowed group members to learn an important lesson in project management practically. The main lesson was that there was a need for routine group interaction and collective effort. This assignment required the group to come up with a detailed project plan for either an existing project or makeup one. Group 31 opted to come up with a fictional project plan. The plan was based on an existing project in Pakistan. However, the fictitious plan only used the core elements of the copied project and scaled it down to meet the group’s project constraints.
The completion of this assignment impacted the group members positively. The group had practical lessons on fundamentals of a project plan and the role it plays in the field of engineering, as well as the successful application of learned lessons and theories into practice. This happened through the implementation of the various components of project planning as required by the assignment. The result has been a clear understanding of project planning, which will be instrumental in ensuring the success of other project done by the group or its members.
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Mathis, M. (2014). Work breakdown structure (WBS): Purpose, process and pitfalls. Web.
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