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10 Project and Program Management engineering design do not change. The manuals that agencies follow for designing infrastructure remain relatively constant The use of the words "project" and "program" has changed across the nation. Technological advances that expedite pro- dramatically as it is now inherently linked to the concept of duction are adopted in a relatively uniform manner from one project management. Project and program management is DOT to the next. While geographical and environmental con- about integration. While project management is about "doing straints may vary from state to state, the engineering aspects projects right," program management is about "doing the of project delivery remain the same. right projects" (3). Successful projects are delivered on time and within the budget and meet the needs of the original purpose. The success of a program is evaluated based on the Motivational Factors benefits it provides. Program management requires a broader approach to coordinating and prioritizing resources across The backbone of the U.S. economy relies heavily on the projects, while weighing their costs and risks. transportation system that moves people and goods. Four sep- In practice, there is no clear-cut distinction between trans- arate spheres make up the transportation industry: Planning/ portation projects and programs in the states researched. Both Engineering/Construction, Social/Community, Environmen- projects and programs varied in size and complexity. Methods tal and Political. Over the years, these spheres have become so of project and program management varied even more from interconnected that in changing one sphere, the other elements one state to the next. The definitions above provide a frame- are affected, and all aspects of the project have to be consid- work for how these terms will be used in the ensuing report. ered before a potential project gains momentum. The research revealed a common trend in defining the terms Managers and decision makers have many reasons to accel- "program acceleration" and "project acceleration" among the erate projects. The research team asked a very fundamental various state DOTs interviewed. All the groups expressed the question: What does acceleration mean to you? The question idea that the terms meant opening a facility to public traffic was then varied to ask what acceleration meant to their man- sooner or more quickly in one way or another. Some defi- agers or supervisors, to the public/users, to the commissioner/ nitions pinpointed specific phases of a project, while others executive director/secretary. The answers were found in their included methods or means for accelerating projects. In the descriptions of project and program acceleration. Although the end, it was concluded that finding ways to undertake pro- responses varied slightly, they all focused on the public welfare cesses simultaneously, in parallel, contributed greatly to accel- as the central reason to get facilities built faster. Figure 2 shows erating project completion even if the individual processes the motivational factors categorized as internal, external, and took the same amount of time. administrative/political reasons to deliver a facility sooner. Researchers found that the technical aspects of develop- In candid discussion with the states that were interviewed, ing a highway project or transportation program are a rela- reasons for accelerating projects stemmed from the current tive constant factor among all agencies. The core principles of climate of the transportation industry. The aging infrastruc- · Schedule driven · Cost savings to program delivery INTERNAL · Inflation / cost of materials · Limited funding / priority projects · Streamlined processes / innovation · Reduced public impact · Stakeholder expectation EXTERNAL · Facility opened sooner · Trust · Improved agency image ADMIN/ · Accolades for activity · Risk POLITICAL · Best return on tax dollar Figure 2. Motivational factors to accelerate projects.
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11 ture that has provided a useful service life beyond the original Inflation and increasing cost of materials were also reasons to expectations, a growing population whose mobility needs are accelerate a project and have it built sooner rather than later. increasing, increased congestion--especially in urban areas-- The increasing cost of fuel and steel prices are evidence of the that now impact daily traffic patterns, and limited financial fluctuating market that influences the engineering and con- funding all set the stage for the current transportation climate. struction industries. This atmosphere encourages transportation professionals to Externally, departments felt they had an obligation to meet bring the product or service to the public faster. They recognize stakeholders' expectations. The reduced time frames of deliv- the benefits of delivering a facility quickly to the public. ering a project sooner reduced public impact, which translated Internally, accelerating a project translated to cost savings to reduced user costs. In the eyes of the public, they needed to in the overall program. Those savings could then be applied endure the rigor of sitting in construction-related traffic for to other areas within the department or simply allocated to only several months instead of a year or more. Departments another project that lacked funding. In recent years, man- were motivated to open a facility sooner because their reward agers found that their projects were halted because of limited was in the trust gained from the public. funding at certain stages of a project. For instance, a project From an administrative viewpoint, departments felt that could have been funded through planning and feasibility. But accelerating a project meant that the tax dollar was wisely no funding was available for engineering and construction spent. Some states were enjoying the improved agency image and projects were prioritized because of the limited funding. from delivering a project ahead of schedule. This improved This combination of limited funding and shuffling of project image allowed them to experiment with different options for priorities motivated some managers to accelerate their proj- other projects during construction. Another reason to accel- ects before the scenario changed again. Certain processes erate a project was that not doing so was inherently tied to were designed to streamline critical aspects of a project. These higher risk consequences. Not wanting to face the potential processes assisted managers in expediting some phases of a risk and residual risks were reasons enough to deliver the project, which facilitated the overall delivery of a project. project quickly.