What We Liked
André's book is targeted towards the corporate world, because these are the people who have to make the big decisions. Their job is to select those major projects that should make the most sense in terms of economics and usefulness, in the face of substantial financial commitment and risk. And, having done so, assemble sufficient financial and material resources to complete the enterprise.
All of this is far from a trivial exercise, yet those concerned are often, perhaps necessarily, politically motivated. At the same time, such people do not always have a good understanding of sound project management principles and practices. This may be especially true where large projects are concerned and are "difficult" by virtue of the number of parties involved, or by the intractability of the problems encountered, or both.
Particular examples that André draws upon for case studies to illustrate his thoughts include: Hong Kong's New Airport at Chep Lap Kok, the Montreal Major Postal Plant Project, and the Optima Bus Factory Turnaround Project. For those not familiar with these projects, the new Hong Kong airport is a $6 billion (USD) project that opened for commercial operations in 1998. It replaced Kai Tak airport, and is an important regional trans-shipment centre, passenger hub and gateway for destinations in China, East Asia and Southeast Asia.
Working for Deloitte & Touche Management Consultants, André helped develop a 600 person organization structure to direct the design, procurement, logistics management, and construction of the new airport. The Montreal Major Postal Plant Project was a $275 million (CAD) investment to design and construct three highly innovative automated postal sorting facilities located at Laval, Montreal Centre, and St. Laurent. As Deputy Project Manager with the Shawinigan-Dyname Joint Venture, André was responsible for managing the implementation of fifteen performance contracts for the design, supply and installation of bag, letter and parcel sorting and conveyance equipment.
Each contract entailed customized mechanical and electrical equipment, operated using specially designed process control software, linked to a Plant Operating Information System. The process control software proved to be the highest risk elements of the entire project. Other case studies are composites of actual projects.
The Optima Bus Factory Turnaround is a project of a different type. For more than twenty years the company manufactured a range of quality products from park amusement rides to Ferris wheels to old-fashioned-looking sightseeing buses to heavy-duty transit buses. However, between 2000 and 2003 the company experienced financial hardship arising from soft sales, the cost of developing a major new mid-sized transit bus line and moving to a new 124,000 sq. ft. production facility. Under a new CEO, the company's executive was reorganized under a four-year strategic plan to be completed by 2007. The intent is to make the necessary organizational and operational changes that will grow the business by some 40% per year and that's no mean target.