Execution & Close-Out
This article will complete our look at the four basic phases of a project. The last article addressed the first two phases of a typical project – the Initiation and Planning phases. This article will address the Execution and Close-out phases.
The execution phase is the heart of the project. It is the phase where the actual project activities are performed, monitored, controlled and changed. It ends with the final delivery of the project to the customer.
This phase should start with the project manager getting organized. A little organization will go a long way here. The project’s operating guidelines should be defined and clear, software tools and systems must be identified and fully implemented, and the entire procurement procedure, from requests for proposals or information through purchasing and culminating with payment, should be thoroughly documented and understood. In addition, the guidelines around control, monitoring and reporting must be documented.
It is important that all of the team players and certain stakeholders have a good understanding of the tools and guidelines used in the project. Once these items are ready, the project manager should call the team together and kick-off the project. This meeting is a critical event to set requirements and expectations for all of the team members. Everyone beginning with the same reference point and aiming at the same goals gets the project off to a good start.
As team members begin executing defined activities, it is imperative for the team members to observe the defined monitoring and control processes. Project monitoring is basically collecting, assessing and distributing project performance information. In essence, project activities are monitored and compared against the project plan to ensure planned progress. Monitoring is also the detection system for scope creep. Scope creep is basically performing functions that are different or beyond the original project definitions, not evaluated against the project’s time, cost and resources, and without initial customer approval. All projects require changes to the original plan since no plan can anticipate all of the necessary activities that may occur. The key is that project information must be obtained, evaluated and changed in a conscious and controlled manner. Change control is basically a process of identifying, evaluating and accepting or rejecting unplanned changes. Having a well defined and efficient change control procedure is critical to keeping the project on course and keeping the project team informed.
The deliverables of this phase is the project itself. This will consist of completing project activities, completing review, acceptance testing, commissioning and final turn-over to the customer. These processes may take from a few hours to several weeks of tests, reworks, retests, etc. before final acceptance is achieved.
The construction part of the project is complete at the end of the execution phase, but the project isn’t closed. In this final phase the project team will archive all of the documents and drawings generated by the project. Final red-line drawings must be obtained and archived. The team should also complete evaluations of contractors and installers for future reference. Final billings must be called in and final payments completed. Once all the financial obligations have been resolved, the project manager can move to close-out the construction contracts. The project is then completed and closed.
The next article in this series will apply the four project phases to a hypothetical cell site build. We will address some of the short cuts, possible best practices and real life issues with such a project.
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To mitigate risks for and maximize on opportunities as your team prepares for these core phases of construction project management, contact the experts at Vertex Innovations today.