Three sides of a project

Penny and Thomas Power interview top Experts from the BIP100 community to introduce them to you. Finding Experts that you can trust is a challenge for us all. By sharing their clients with you, they hope they can reduce your search for great people that can help you build your business.

Delivering complex projects and programmes

Subash Tavares has a substantial history of involvement in large, high-profile projects, including the early stages of HS2 and the infrastructure for the 2012 Olympics. As a former Olympian himself, that was a particularly apt project to be involved with.

Now he has created his own business, thevirtualpmo™, to provide project support to clients in the construction and civil engineering sectors.

The importance of triangles

In most projects, not least in construction, project managers think in terms of the triangle of time, cost, and quality. Moving one angle affects the other angles and the length of the line that joins them.

Subash has a different take on the triangle. He lists the three points as technology, people, and processes and procedures. He describes them as three cogs in a machine, each spinning at a different speed and needing to be brought together to work harmoniously. For example, technology can change rapidly, and on a longer project can change during the lifetime of the project.

So it is important not only to bring the right people in to begin with, but also to treat them with respect and provide the necessary training and support to keep up to date with the technology. Having the right processes and procedures in place acts as the glue to hold the project together.

Different approaches in different stages

For anyone planning a project of any size, it is worth listening to Subash describe how he breaks projects down into different stages. Although he may be using examples relating to huge construction projects of the kind usually undertaken by governments, there are clear lessons that can be applied to other sectors and different sizes and kinds of projects.

Subash talks about the lifecycle of any project in three stages. Firstly, comes the development stage, including design and planning. Then the construction phase, followed by the operation phase which can last for many years and includes maintenance.

He talks about the importance of getting it right from the beginning, of thinking about the three phases before even starting on the first one. As he says:

 If you don't get it right to start with, you're always playing catch up’ 

This includes thinking about the teams that will be needed for each phase. You wouldn’t employ the same person to design a building as you would to maintain it.

Subash is clear that you need to find the right people for each phase, and that the people aspect of project management is hugely important. At the same time, without the other two sides of the triangle, people can’t do their best work. Whatever the size of a project, it works best when all the cogs work together.

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