August 1, 2015 | by Wayne Smith

Construction Project Management Part I: Overview

Over the past six months we have posted about twenty articles addressing various components of and issues facing the wireless communications industry. Topics included a short wireless industry history, the technological generations, wireless network building standards, net neutrality, project management software, and a lot about 4G technologies. Each of these topics is an important element of the fast growing and changing wireless industry. Contemplating these issues can generally assist the reader in determining which way the wind is blowing. It is probably safe to say the industry is maturing and always changing to meet the ever-changing demands of end users. This is about as far as we go in the world of predictions.

Now we want to turn our focus to Vertex’s primary interest. This is construction project management. Vertex was founded on the idea that if someone is going to undertake a project to build something, it should be built as planned and with the full intention to meet all of the desired project objectives. Not one work day passes without our consultants being focused on achieving this concept. This is a rather simple concept to write and talk about; but it is a lot harder to achieve than most may think.

The first few articles of this series will address basic project management concepts. This will set the foundation for the rest of the series that will delve into specific issues about project management and its application to building wireless communications infrastructure. Of course, we will be talking about general project management definitions, models, objectives, expertise, knowledge, skills, management attributes, etc. After getting through the basics, we will apply many of these ideas to various projects in the wireless infrastructure industry. Let’s get started.

What is a Project?

A project is simply a temporary undertaking designed to achieve a particular outcome. The outcome can be a new product, a service, or some other planned result. In a business enterprise, it should be something that meets a business need. All projects share some common characteristics. They create something new, have limited resources (typically money and human resources), and have a defined start time and finish deadline. The endeavor is probably not a project if it does not have all of these characteristics. Each project should also have a plan that addresses the fundamental “do it” questions: What to do? How to do it? Why do it? When to do it? Where to do it? Who is going to do it? Remember, a project without a plan is really a plan for failure.

A group of related projects is typically called a program. The principal characteristic of a program is that there are multiple interdependencies between individual projects. These interdependencies share or contend for one or more of the project constraints listed above, or the projects are related to one or more business interests of the company. For example, Vertex has several cell site construction programs in process where each individual site has separate funding, but the manager of the program may utilize the same construction companies to perform certain activities on all of the sites. In addition, these programs support one central business objective of expanding capacity.

We will conclude this article with the Project Management Institute’s definition of project management. “Project management is the application of knowledge, skills, tools, and techniques to project activities to meet the project requirements.” By the way, the PMI has written the definitive book on project management called the PIMBOK. Any prospective and/or aspiring project manager should be or should become familiar with the information in this book.

Our next article will address the basic goals of every project and briefly identify some of the reasons projects succeed.