This case illustrates the pressure project managers face in ensuring projects fulfil promises made by governments on infrastructure projects. These promises include what will be produced, when it will be produced and how much the project will cost.
This case poses the question “What can be done to break this costly habit of rushing megaprojects to market?”
This case identifies governments as significant stakeholders in infrastructure projects.
This case presents a scenario that project managers need to deal with as part of their role.
According to Chan & Oppong (2017), managing the expectations of the stakeholders have been considered as one of the important decisions that are taken by an organization. Considering the different infrastructure projects, it has been identified that the common stakeholders appear to be the investors, the Government of the respective country, the customers (community living nearby), employees and the suppliers. In the research conducted by Cheshmberah (2020), it is being evaluated that stakeholders do have an expectation that will contribute to their benefit. For example, the Government do expect that the projects will successfully add to the GDP of the country on its completion while the communities do have an expectation that will receive some kind of benefits in the form of products or services. To manage the expectation of the stakeholders, the best strategy will be to take note of the stakeholders to be arranged in a list and accordingly the tasks to progress.
The Stakeholder Map analysis in respect to the project can be put in a matrix where four parameters are being created such as ‘Manage Closely’, Keep Informed’, ‘Meet Needs’ and Have a Minimal point of Contact’ (Nataliia, Dmytro & Igor, 2018).
Thus, from the Stakeholder Map, the idea becomes clear as to how the stakeholders are to be looked at and accordingly also value their expectations by keeping a note of it. For example, the Government needs to be informed of what are the procedures that are being adapted or the kind of project that is being undertaken. With the Public Relations as the stakeholders, they in case of the infrastructure projects do not need to be informed always.
Through the incorporation of the Project Initiation as a part of the project management technique, the rush to the market can be avoided. The ultimate reason behind the rush of the projects is approved by the Government so that they can meet the needs of the customers. If the Government fails to end up the project within a set time, it is being assumed that the next government might cancel the project on the whole. Projects when organized and started through the adoption of the Project Initiation method, the deliverables are being met within a set time frame and reach out to the market in a defined timeframe. For example, the pork-barreling project on the suburban train station has failed due to the rush in the market. In the research conducted by Mbiru, Wickham & Ayentimi (2021), the Project Initiation framework does consist of some of the steps which when followed do enables them to reach the conclusion and succeed. For example, the case is being first studied as to what is to be undertaken and the reason behind it. In the project charter as the third stage, the timeline, the Work Breakdown Structure, the risks assessments, the quality standards and the deliverables are being identified. The framework ends with the Review where the last cross-checking of the project is done and maps the progress of the project. With such milestones, it becomes crucial for the project manager to know when is the project to be accomplished and a tentative date is being announced keeping the buffer time in hand. According to Daddey & Watt (2021), the Project Initiation phase do create a transparent understanding of how the project will be carried out that inform the team members as well. When the project architecture is being defined and cleared to the members, they can comfortably work on it as well as ensure that the tasks are being carried out effectively. In the project management framework, the project initiation phase does have significant importance as all the performances are being measured and before reaching out to the final solution, it is being cross-checked that all the measures are being taken like through the use of the Risk Assessment Matrix.
Figure 2: Project Initiation Framework
(Source: Yemini, Oplatka & Sagie, 2018)
In the infrastructure project, it has been found that the Government do have been considered as one of the integral and important stakeholders. However, there are other stakeholders too as has been identified in Figure 1 through the Stakeholders Map. The other stakeholders and their importance have been identified below:
Customers: Customers are those for whom the projects are being built and developed (Chen et al., 2018). In the infrastructure project, it has been identified that customers do get benefits like the railway projects that are being built for the transport of the passengers and make their commute path easier. They are the key consumers of a service/ the users of the service so it is very important to manage them as their input or feedback affects the project.
Suppliers: The suppliers are the ones who deliver the raw materials from the warehouse to that of the manufacturing departments (Pavlova & Onyshсhenko, 2021). The right proportion of goods when not transported at the right time will lead to project delays. The suppliers thus are important since they need to be provided with an invoice that will provide a clear idea of the resources to be purchased and delivered.
Managers/Employees: They are the ones who guide the team members in performing the project and accomplishing it on time while employees are those who are performing in the project.
Investors: Investors are those who provide the capital funding for the arrangement of the different resources. Investors with their capital funding do ensure that products and raw materials are being arranged at the right time.
Through the incorporation of the Stakeholder Participation Assessment Framework, the relationship among the stakeholders can be managed efficiently. In this strategy, mainly three questions are being asked such as Who, How and When are answered.
For a project manager in such scenarios as has been presented in the case, three critical skills are needed by the project managers:
Problem-solving skill: Problem-solving skill is stated to be one of the most crucial skills where the managers with such a skill can think of an instant solution to a problem. Here, with the use of the Project Initiation, the project manager can apply problem-solving skills to address the issue of the large projects being rushed to the market.
Communication skill: Mostly, the project managers need to communicate with the Board of Directors on the progress of the projects and with the employees on how the project will be carried out determining through the project charter (Tabot, Owuor & Migosi, 2020. Here, the project manager can communicate the different steps that are taken in the project and even the employees can be given timely information.
Decision-making skill: In this skill, the project managers need to take an instant decision with the team members for executing the project on time and also address additional issues. In the decision-making skill, the manager can decide on adopting strategic action that will enable the projects to be completed as well as not rush in the market.
In the case scenario, the issue had been that often the infrastructure projects did rush in the markets. Therefore, with the use of problem-solving skills, the project manager can find out the root cause of the issue and then take the adequate solution for it. The project manager with the use of the skills can ensure that the issues are addressed and meet the needs of the clients as well. Thus, it is very much needed that the project manager is aware of the skills that are possessed and make the necessary application to meet the deliverables.
Chan, A., & Oppong, G. (2017). Managing the expectations of external stakeholders in construction projects. Engineering, Construction And Architectural Management, 24(5), 736-756. https://doi.org/10.1108/ecam-07-2016-0159
Chen, L., Manley, K., Lewis, J., Helfer, F., & Widen, K. (2018). Procurement and Governance Choices for Collaborative Infrastructure Projects. Journal Of Construction Engineering And Management, 144(8), 04018071. https://doi.org/10.1061/(asce)co.1943-7862.0001525
Cheshmberah, M. (2020). Projects portfolio determination based on key stakeholders’ expectations and requirements: Evidence from public university projects. Journal Of Project Management, 139-150. https://doi.org/10.5267/j.jpm.2019.10.001
Daddey, F., & Watt, A. (2021). Project Initiation. Project Management.
Mbiru, J., Wickham, M., & Ayentimi, D. (2021). Entrepreneurial Project Initiation Processes for Social Enterprises in a Developing Economy Context. Journal Of Social Entrepreneurship, 1-27. https://doi.org/10.1080/19420676.2021.1953570
Nataliia, D., Dmytro, C., & Igor, C. (2018, September). Modelling of the processes of stakeholder involvement in command management in a multi-project environment. In 2018 IEEE 13th International Scientific and Technical Conference on Computer Sciences and Information Technologies (CSIT) (Vol. 1, pp. 29-32). IEEE. https://doi.org/10.1109/STC-CSIT.2018.8526613
Pavlova, N., & Onyshchenko, S. (2021). Development and research of a model for optimizing the composition of a project-oriented forwarding company’ suppliers. Technology Audit And Production Reserves, 1(2(57), 36-42. https://doi.org/10.15587/2706-5448.2021.225521
Tabot, A., Owuor, O., & Migosi, J. (2020). Influence of Participatory Project Initiation on Sustainable Forest Management in Saboti, Trans-Nzoia County, Kenya. International Journal Of Forestry Research, 2020, 1-7. https://doi.org/10.1155/2020/2648391
Yemini, M., Oplatka, I., & Sagie, N. (2018). Project Initiation. In Project Management in Schools (pp. 23-42). Palgrave Pivot, Cham.