Special Projects Management Approach

ESC’s Special Projects Management Approach involves maintaining a timeline for each Task and Subtask, and checking in with Technical Leads to assess progress on a monthly basis. All technical leads represent secondary project managers in terms of their commitment to oversight and  participate together in quarterly conference calls to assess progress and make changes to timelines and milestones as needed.

When the primary deliverables for a project are publications, Project Managers ensure that Technical Leads adhere to a timeline for the production of first drafts, and Project Managers  assist in the process of disseminating drafts for peer review.

The overall approach to and organization for managing the work of a project ensures milestones are met in a timely fashion, status reports are maintained for all subtasks, and task tracking is updated and monitored by all project team members to optimize interconnectedness of activities.

In order to ensure adequate scope management, the project team uses an integrated and responsive (in that changes in one document or area affect changes in another) set of scoping resources including a work breakdown structure, deployment plan, and change control mechanisms. Systems and practices for team management are typically standardized and centralized online at project initiation to ensure that all project team members can continually access such documents and respond promptly to any changes to the scope of activities. Schedule and time management are to include the establishment of milestones associated with major tasks and subtasks of the scope of work, a criteria for go/no-go decisions, an assessment of dependencies and how these may impact the project schedule.

ESC has built-in processes for cost/budget management that includes base-lining the aggregate estimated cost of individual activities or work packages in accordance with the work breakdown structure (WBS), specifying control accounts and providing information on how or whether contingency and management reserves are taken into consideration (if applicable). Cost can be measured throughout the project life cycle and may include processes of earned value management. Cost variances observed outside the established baseline can then be responded to by reassessing resource allocation for the overall budget. Cost reporting format and frequency can come in the form quarterly or annual reports, negotiated with the funding agency, to account for triggers of cost overrun, and options of preventive action. Changes to the cost baseline are typically controlled and approved in a manner confirmed during the project initiation meeting.

Measures for quality assurance/control management will be maintained throughout the life of the project. Calculations, estimates, etc. must be checked immediately so that errors are not perpetuated. The checker must have a similar or greater level of experience as the originator, should be a member of the project team familiar with the details of the project, and must be familiar with the type of work proposed for the project.

The communications management approach for a project includes a communications protocol for ensuring correspondence is executed in a timely, professional and content-relevant manner. Technical leads and subconsultants  meet regularly via teleconference or in-person where possible. Project team members typically meet, via teleconference, at least once every two weeks. Detailed meeting notes, including action items and critical issues raised, are documented and stored in a communications database.

As part of the risk management methodology of a project, project managers working with a project team and funding agency ensure that risks are actively identified, analyzed, and managed throughout the life of the project. In order to minimize their individual or cumulative impact, risks are identified as early in the project as possible. This is accomplished through maintenance of a risk management log and by applying a process of risk identification (i.e. an evaluation of environmental factors, organizational cultures and the project management plan including the defined scope of work with consideration given to project deliverables, assumptions, constraints, WBS, cost/effort estimates, resource plan, and other key legal documents); risk analysis (i.e. both qualitative methods based on a matrix of probability and impact as well as quantitative methods); risk response planning (i.e. for major risks identified at the outset of the project, the project team determines options for avoiding, mitigating, transferring or accepting the risk); and risk monitoring and reporting (i.e. development of a project scope-specific inventory of risk and associated measures, continuously referenced and updated throughout the life of a project).

Procurement management involves an established criteria for the selection and award of procurement contracts under the project scope accounting for the ability of the vendor to provide all items by the required delivery date, product or service quality, cost comparison, expected delivery date, past performance, and a comparison of outsourced cost versus in-sourcing. Further to this, where required by the funding agency, performance metrics (e.g. satisfactory/unsatisfactory) for procurement activities can be applied to the criteria and reviewed regularly.

A data management system, consisting of an established hierarchy of folders and files can be maintained on a shared network (i.e. intranet) for project team members to access. Data generated in the course of the scope of work can then be shared and preserved through this online system. Where publications are intended on serving public needs and diverse stakeholders, they can be made available through distinct websites if relevant to the project scope of work. Proprietary and licensed data is stipulated as such within all relevant documents through privacy and copyright disclaimers. Deliverables associated with this scope, unless otherwise noted, may opt for a creative commons licensing agreement. Such details, associated with each of the subtasks are confirmed at project initiation.