As part of the government agreement to develop a mega-project, the mining company was required to do the engineering in a specific region – to ensure that the local economy would benefit. This posed a significant challenge. The local population did not offer nearly enough experience managing projects of this size, even though the enthusiasm and basic design skills were available.
To comply with the agreement and still allow for success, a limited number of outside technical and management experts – including the project manager and deputy project manager — were brought in from outside. But almost all other personnel, including the engineering manager and technical leads, were local.
Issues arose almost immediately. With a very inexperienced engineering manager and technical leads proficient only in much smaller projects, the team was not equipped to do the initial project setup themselves. They couldn’t begin to comprehend the complex infrastructure and administrative systems the mega-project required.
Support and education were the keys. To set them up to succeed, the team was provided with the training, tools and templates required to draw up the first draft of the execution plan and the detailed deliverables and activity lists for a level III schedule.
The rookie team’s first drafts were reviewed by an experienced Engineering Manager and Project Controls Manager from outside the region. Schedule synchronization between disciplines was investigated, gaps were pointed out, and where there were misses, the correct logic was added to avoid schedule surprises and delays. But all of the work was left to the local team to implement. The process, although somewhat arduous, helped immeasurably to grow the team’s understanding and skills.
Once a polished plan was in place, the next step was to establish a reporting process that would enable transparency and drive accountability. Again the company’s experts helped develop the local team, coaching them through the process. The final reports enabled a clear governance process and ensuring that executive management understood the true status of the project.
More and more ventures are faced with the need to set up inexperienced teams for success. The process is not easy, however, it can be extremely gratifying and rewarding. There is no more fulfilling experience than nurturing talent to succeed on their own and helping local economies to grow.