The project articles are about the processes of making good and verifiable decisions. Though writers like Goatham (2009) often focus on the uniqueness of IT circumstances, the reality is that most sophisticated management practices have common elements. These can be seen in both the building of an army and a society or in the rolling of steel.
PROJECT SUCCESS FACTORS
In the Afghan army and nation-building project (Ruhm, 2006), a number of complex and interwoven tasks had to be developed and coordinated at the same time while allowing for effective personnel and situational changes. The key successes of this case study can be best attributed to three basic factors: the use of an Acquisition Program Baseline (APB), the identification of a qualified program manager (PM), and reliance on standardized military decision-making, training and related tools and tactics.
Acquisition Program Baseline: The chief coordinating entity for this effort, the OSC -- A (Office of Security Cooperation -- Afghanistan) determined immediately the need for using known cost, schedule and performance expectations in ways that complimented the military's Acquisition Program Baseline methodologies. According to the report, "A well-documented APB improves communications between these groups by providing a means to depict not only the desired end state, but the strategy to get there. Once an APB is in place, it also provides internal planners and external audiences with a consistent and agreed to frame of reference to consider implications of changes to budget or schedule." This baseline resulted in the generation of clear and easily understood facts that were used within a well-refined Military Decision-Making Process, which underscores command and control authorities.
Program Manager: Even the best-laid plans do not work, however, without direction from project managers who understand how to use scheduling and control tools that keep the integrated elements aligned and focused on the larger mission and specific elements. Unlike regular OSC -- A staff, the PMs were comfortable with Microsoft Project Gant Charting capabilities, and could thus use them to keep operational movement going forward, even in light of very challenging cultural, religious and geopolitical circumstances.
Capability Milestones: "Capability milestones, introduced at OSC -- A in July 2005, aid PMs further by expressing, from a holistic perspective, the incremental improvements in capability that activities and expenditures will provide at specific points in time." It is important for project leadership to know what is happening and why without delay because of the need for project implementers to respond to evolving conditions and security considerations. Plus, with personnel deployment being limited to just 4 to 6 months, this element helped ease in new staff who were required to learn their responsibilities quickly.
In the ZuSRoM project (Degnitu, 2000), the key successes were related to meeting the demand for additional rolled steel products by way of developing a new production site with innovative approaches of various types. The following steps seem critical:
Baseline Study: Once it was determined that the shortage of milled steel could be addressed through the creation of a production site, an outside company called IPS worked with the lead business partners (ISCOR and BMEIB) to develop an offer that included budget and feasibility documents. These elements became the project's baseline.
Clarity of Terms: Because the new milling site would involve new approaches and production tactics, management set about ensuring that the operational elements of the project had common terms and understandings for key development activities. As was noted in the write-up, "It was on this search process the idea of second hand mill transplanting came into the project definition." This common language helped them overcome inefficiencies that were otherwise common in the region.
Farsighted Know-How: The terms of reference and project scope of services to be undertaken were created with "farsighted objectives of know-how transfer, local capability improvement and use of local resources for refurbishing."
Cooperative Counterpart Management Teams: In order to ensure that the various partners had input into each step, management utilized a "one-to-one" mix of professional involvement on each critical component. This meant that there would be a representative from both ISCOR and BMEIB engaged in each decision and implementation task.
Group Generated Ideas and Regular Monitoring: The Counterpart Teams model was then supplemented with regular 45-minute progress meetings. Unlike more typical meetings of this nature in the country, this continuous, daily feedback ensure that milestones would…