Project management works well, if done efficiently and in close cooperation
By Mathieu Colon
A friend called me at the beginning of this year asking if I was willing to assist in a commercial maritime project. It concerned the construction of an inland cruise ship. Naturally, I wanted to help as I enjoy anything which as to do naval architecture. A project such as a cruise ship certainly had my attention!
After a single day, I concluded this particular project wasn’t for me. The work method was almost chaotic, and that didn’t work for me. Before making a decision, I called Ron to ask whether his views on the project were the same as mine.
Ron agreed that this work method did not fit epoMAT’s way of working. The ‘chaos method’ doesn’t work for us in a project setting, as we are then unable to perform according to our quality standards. We had no other choice than to end the assignment.
But the chip came down differently. At the request of the Principal, Shipyard De Gerlien van Tiem, epoMAT was reintegrated into the project team. The ship builder wanted to proceed with us and opted for epoMAT’s work method. As a result, we not only did the technical coordination, but the engineering and the project management as well. This actually allowed us to get the project back on track.
Peel back first, to create afterwards
Due to the unstructured work system, many mistakes were made, and hours were spilled. Emotions ran high within the team, they were more than fed up with the overtime. Plenty of reading and careful prior planning were required to get a good grip on the job. Ron and I mapped the project by first peeling back its layers. What is good and can be kept, what isn’t and needs fixing? Which risks can we ward off and what needs doing in the short and the long term? Quite exciting; because the project never stopped, it all had to happen ‘on the job’. It restored a feeling of quietness and emotion were back to normal levels.
Safe work environment
A safe work environment doesn’t just mean safety as in “Health and Safety”. You also have to know and feel yourself safe and valued. That’s why Ron was offered and gave personal support whenever needed. By meeting each week and discussing the project with each other, people were better able to do their own work, and optimum use was made of eachone’s capacities.
““The right preparation, linking the short and the long term, and synchronising the work in the right order brought peace back into the project.”
With the project team, we were able to put the communication back on track in only a matter of weeks, to restore peace and to erase the Principal’s sense of panic. This firm intervention was needed to bring the project to a successful end.
The result of the intervention was a well-run project, with simultaneous signing, building and approving. Everything had to be right the first time, no time for ‘lessons learned’. In the end, the vessel was launched on 6 November, the final delivery to the client is planned in the Spring of 2019.
I really enjoyed working in this project team, and the cooperation with Ron was optimal yet again. We concentrated on listening well, keeping the very tight deadlines and actively offering personal support where needed. From draughtsman to yard manager to Principal. It caused us to come into contact with the whole supplier chain, and that is exactly what made this assignment so much fun: initially, we really didn’t think it was for us, but in the end, we enjoyed the excellent teamwork. Thank you, Shipyard De Gerlien van Tiem, for this amazing assignment!
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