A paper presented to the first Engineering Congress, The Institution of Engineers, India - Calcutta, January 1987

Introduction | Definition | Traditional | Hard-Soft | Environment
Characteristics | Concepts | Control | Breakdown | Fundamentals
Prerequisites | Summary | Appendix A | Appendix B

Fundamentals of Success

Executive Control Points

Every project should have "Executive Control Points". These are really like "gates" between phases and major stages of the project that represent major project "milestones". At these gates, the project manager presents certain predetermined "deliverables" to the project sponsor, top management or "Executive", whoever has the authority to approve further project funding.

For top management, these points provide the opportunity to exercise a high level of control over the shape and timing of the project. Top management can ensure that either the project is developing in a manner consistent with their objectives, or the project can be modified with minimum upset if the objectives have changed. It is also the opportunity for the Executive to inject enthusiasm, excitement and discipline into the project team's work.

Changes and related delays may cost ten or more times as much to implement during construction, compared to the same changes made during the planning stage. Therefore, at the beginning of the project, Executive Control Points should be established at the conclusion of each phase, on a "go" or "no-go" basis for further work as shown by the flags in Figure 7.

Figure 7: Executive Control points, or

Figure 7: Executive Control points, or "phase gates" in a construction life cycle

These control points therefore provide the project manager with his mandate to drive the project through to the conclusion of the ensuing stage. It is the project manager's opportunity to ensure that top management is behind him and that he is proceeding in the right direction.

The most important control point in the project life cycle is reached at the conclusion of the "development" stage (see Figure 3). The end of this stage marks the transition of the project from feasibility to implementation. At this point, a project "go" decision must be based on sound and well documented information. This information should be presented in a comprehensive document referred to as the Project Brief. The Project Brief, when approved, becomes the prime source of reference for the implementation phase.

Project Brief

The Project Brief is the means whereby the owners know precisely what they are getting. A good Project Brief should include:

  • Executive summary;
  • General statement of business aims and objectives;
  • Technical approach;
  • Statement of project scope;
  • Regulatory approvals and requirements;
  • Preliminary design sketches, block diagrams, standards;
  • Project team organization;
  • Implementation schedule;
  • Procurement plan;
  • Project estimate and proposed appropriation budget;
  • Other resources required from the sponsoring organization (e.g., land, space, staff, etc.);
  • Financial statement and economic projections;
  • Cash flow projection;
  • Justification, alternatives; and
  • Areas of uncertainty and risk.
Work Breakdown  Work Breakdown

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