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Cracking the application of Planning, Monitoring and Control, 18th May 2016

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The APM’s ‘Cracking the Application of Planning, Monitoring and Control’ event took place at Brockholes Nature Reserve on Wednesday 18th May, an unusually different conference venue floating on a lake.  Located on the outskirts of Preston, this was a fantastic opportunity for businesses located in the North West. The event was attended by a diverse range of around 80 delegates from different business sectors, with a wide variety of knowledge and experience.

After registration and some time for networking and light refreshments, APM PM&C SIG Chair and Master of Ceremonies for the day Stephen Jones welcomed everyone to the event.

Hannah Francis, Marketing Executive from Wellingtone talked openly about the services and support Wellingtone provides to industries running projects. Working as partners with clients to maximise their likelihood of project, programme and portfolio success through defining a fit for purpose and practical project methodology, training people in best practice project management, implementing Project and Portfolio Management solutions such as Microsoft Project Server and SharePoint or helping clients recruit project professionals.

Sue Simmonite, Head of Project Planning Modelling & Analysis, for BAE Systems focussed on a different aspect to PM&C ‘Connections’ through a networking game. Sue said ‘Having been a delegate at a number of events, people do not make the most of the opportunity to network with others.  Simply making a new connection may open an opportunity to learn and share their knowledge or experiences to address the same challenges we are all facing on PM&C’.

Simon Taylor, Head of Planning for HS2 discussed the ‘Challenges of the past influencing the future’.  With the first Public Fare Passenger Service in the world – 191 years ago the shape of the future with HS2 offers some similar but different challenges to those faced many years ago. Britain’s GDP and economic growth is massively dependent upon the service sector and manufacturing is declining.  Fast forward to the future and people in 30 years will want fast and hassle free travel for meetings. Work will most likely be home based predominantly. History tells us we only do this once in a 100 years so we need to get HS2 right.  Simon covered the approach being taken to deliver HS2 through:

  • Establishing appropriate controls that will be deployed by the HS2 Programme to effectively manage delivery of the benefits within the agreed schedule and cost targets
  • Developing programme management capability across the HS2 Programme through deployment of integrated processes and systems
  • Establishing robust links between technical scope, the cost of delivery and the schedule for delivery to establish fully integrated baselines that connect project controls and other project data, including engineering modelling and BIM
  • Managing and integrating the flow of scope and associated cost plans and schedules between the client, HS2 Programme, HS2 Delivery Units, contractors and other key stakeholders

Stephen Jones, Deputy Head of Project Management Capability at Sellafield Ltd delivered a presentation on Scheduling, following the structure from the new Planning Scheduling Monitoring and Control book, which all delegates received a free copy of on the day.

The presentation started with a clarification between Planning and Scheduling, which led into the purpose of scheduling, the different types of schedule, and schedule design.  Stephen said ‘The main point here was about communication, making sure everyone in the team understand the decisions about how the schedule has been put together, from formatting, descriptions, to which calendar to use.  I made an important point about the use of coding, which is a powerful tool if used correctly but there are some pitfalls caused by its flexibility, for example colour codes could be red, green, blue.  A Red bicycle should be coded, colour Red; asset type bicycle, however coding systems do not prevent someone incorrectly coding colour as bicycle.’

The presentation then looked at building the schedule and why we should avoid the use of constraints, lags and leads. Resourcing was the next topic, with a quick look into levelling and smoothing. Stephen said ‘levelling is not a good idea if you want to maintain an acceptable end date.’ There followed a quick reminder about critical path and different types of float, where he covered a little about Crashing the Schedule and Fast Tracking. Finally Stephen looked at Schedule Review, which is timely given the recent launch of the latest PM&C publication titled “a guide to conducting an Integrated Baseline Review (IBR)”.

Stephen said, ‘If you would like more information about the more advance Scheduling topics, then I would suggest looking into the PSMC handbook sections 17.2 Line of Balance and 17.3 Time Chainage.’

The afternoon session started with an ‘Inspiring Change’ workshop led by Sue Simmonite and Simon Taylor.   Each table were given a specific question on current challenges in the PM&C environment from career development.  Delegates got the opportunity to discuss the issues as they saw them across their businesses and industry sectors and propose solutions on how to address them and where the APM PM&C SIG could help with future activities and guidance.  Sue said ‘the APM PM&C SIG have taken a lot away from the feedback on the table discussions and will be reviewing the outputs to address how best to help the businesses with guidance or focussed future events.  Linking with the networking activity this morning, I hope that each table took the opportunity to share information and contacts that they can follow up on after the event.’

The final speaker of the day was Paul Taylor from MWH UK and his theme was ‘Set the Vision and Direction, but focus on the Now’ The Rolling Wave Approach. Paul’s presentation focussed on ‘Surfing the Rolling Wave’, the approach, how we apply this approach to a project, and how it is a fit for purpose approach for complex projects.

The presentation by Paul Taylor of MWH (now part of Stantec), reinforced the Rolling Wave section of the APM book “Planning, Scheduling, Monitoring and Control”. The presentation and hand-out highlighted the benefits of introducing this approach into programmes and large projects. It discussed how intense effort should be focused on the current time window, but maintaining a continuous vision of the required outcome. The presentation raised the need for a more rigorous level of interrelated processes between planning, cost management, estimating and risk to improve the effectiveness of the technique. Due to the fact the delegates where from a wide cross section of industry covering Rail, Utilities, Nuclear, Defence, Airports and other infrastructure it encouraged a lively debate with a slant on what has to be done to engage the stakeholders in changing beliefs and adopting this approach.

Following the event, Simon and Stephen wanted to share their views on the day:

‘It was really great to be a part of the BAE Systems sponsored APM event on PM&C in Preston. I was impressed by the breadth and diversity of the attendees and together with some expert organising and a first class venue it really stood out in my mind as one of the best I’ve attended. The host and speakers who weren’t me did a fantastic job of engaging with the audience, but for me the best part was the workshop where individual tables worked together to identify issues regarding project controls and propose solutions to overcome them. It was obvious that everyone was passionate about getting it right and I think that there were some really great and practical solutions to problems we all face, I look forward to seeing the output and doing further work based on this in my own company.’ Simon Taylor, Head of Planning, HS2.

‘As the Chair of the PMC SIG it was really good to see the event so well attended, and demonstrates there is a requirement for these events in the North West of England.  The event sold out in a matter of weeks, three months before the event took place.’ Stephen Jones, Deputy Head of Project Management Capability, Sellafield Ltd.


Planning, Monitoring and Control SIG


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