For starters, communication is key, both within the team and with the client
The unique complexity of transmission and distribution (T&D) projects means consultants must take proactive and innovative approaches to project management. Here are my top five steps for delivering a successful T&D project.
1. Set clear expectations early
As a project manager you are not only responsible for the successful completion of a project but also leading a diverse team with multiple stakeholders to achieve that goal. You must motivate, encourage, and mediate when necessary while clearly coordinating and communicating with your internal team, project stakeholders, and client. This balancing act is why clear realistic expectations must be established early in the process.
During the project, you will get demands from your client that may impact the scope, staffing, and schedule of your project. What the client may see as a simple request could require major design changes resulting in increased costs and schedule delays.
It is essential that as a project manager you understand why the client is making this request. Then you must clearly communicate the impact, costs, staff requirements, and timeline prior to simply saying yes—and later find yourself in an impasse that could have been avoided.
This means you may need to diplomatically push back on your client’s requests in cases where there is no clear added value.
_q_tweetable:Unbelievably, many projects have been executed within budget and on schedule but have completely missed the mark._q_
2. Create a strong team
T&D projects can be very difficult and stressful when deadlines sneak up. It is your responsibility to ensure the team stays committed.
There will be the inevitable conflicts that will arise among team members or other people involved in the project. It requires a willingness by all parties to resolve issues as they arise. If all parties are not willing to do so, even the best project manager cannot make miracles.
But the following approaches might help nurture a positive team collaboration:
- Encouraging team-building activities helps to cultivate a fun and collaborative environment.
- Being objective when analyzing issues and situations and not pointing fingers will help you have an unbiased judgement and result in impartial decisions.
- Humor will also allow you to have a different perspective and see problems from another angle, lightening the overall team environment.
3. When delivering a project, quality and timing shouldn’t be an either/or decision
Some project managers will occasionally be tempted to overlook the quality of the project activities they are delivering in favor of meeting deadlines to please their clients. Though staying on schedule is important, good managers will recognize it is pointless if the end product is not at par with your client’s expectations.
4. Enforce a no surprise environment
As a leader, you are required to be 10 steps ahead of all aspects of your project. Though there is a limit to what our minds can process, there should never be surprises to you or your client. To stay ahead, you must identify project risks and mitigate issues at an early stage. You achieve this by keeping open and consistent communication with your client. Your ability to communicate will ensure a trusting and long-term relationship.
5. Be adaptable to change
Finally, planning is important but how you deal and adapt to changes—and work with your teams and client to overcome challenges—will ultimately define the success of your project. You must be willing and able to adapt as the projects evolves.
Unbelievably, many projects have been executed within budget and on schedule but have completely missed the mark. The way your project is executed, your client’s satisfaction, team synergy, and many other factors play a role in the success or failure of a project. Effective project management can mean the difference between delivering a successful project or failure.
Working in the T&D field means we deliver projects that are complex, important, and rewarding. We must remember this when motivating ourselves, our teams, and actively communicating with our clients. These skills will enable us to power the world.
About the Author
An electrical engineer specializing in substations and power plants, Arielle Kadoch took very quickly to her career in complex projects. After a few years of specializing in electrical substations, she devoted herself to renewable energy projects and is today a known and recognized figure in this activity sector.More Content by Arielle Kadoch