App or Not, Garbage In Means Garbage Out
YACHT PROJECT MANAGEMENT NOT FOR THE INEXPERIENCED ...
GIGO ain't the name of an actress or musical rock star. It's an acronym from the 1960s. Some believe it's a play on the accounting terms for inventory procedures, LIFO and FIFO. But irrespective of its origins, the expression is aimed at reminding us that inputtinginaccurate data into even the most accurate and highly refined computer application, still results in inaccurate output. Garbage in, garbage out.
Simply being conversant with a particular piece of canned project management software, just doesn't cut it...
Managing a yacht new-build or major refit involves significantly more than simply being able to input data to, and manipulate canned project-management software, such as Microsoft Project.
All such software is only a tool, just as CAD software is a tool. CAD software cannot, in and by itself, design or engineer a yacht.
And project-management software cannot manage a yacht building project, except in the hands of someone with in-depth industry specific experience.
You can spew out as many Gantt charts and Critical Path analyses as you want. However, without a solid understanding of the sequential dependencies and independencies of various boat building and refit operations, and without the ability to assign reasonably accurate durations to a project’s component operations, project management becomes a snare and a delusion. But, in order to manage a yacht build or refit project, you have to be able to:
• Identify which component operations are related in unbreakable sequential dependencies (the Critical Path).
• Identify which component operations can be broken off the Critical Path and run parallel to it (Fast Tracking).
• Understand how to shorten the duration of operations that lie on the Critical Path (Crashing the Critical Path).
• Understand how, and to what extent additional resources can be applied to shorten the duration of critical operations that are either on or off the Critical Path, but which do not initially have any “float” attached to them.
• Identify potential upcoming bottlenecks, and be able to develop “workaround” plans to keep the schedule from slipping.
Such prerequisite ability and knowledge are accumulated only over many years of hands-on yacht building and refit, as well as in-depth experience in shipyard operations management.
Every yacht owner involved in a major build or refit project
needs to have his or her own project manager...
There are two distinct types of yacht project management: in-house and owner’s representation. An in-house project manager works for the yard. His or her first priority is to protect the yard’s interests — and profit. For that reason, it behooves every yacht owner involved in a major build or refit purchase to have his or her own project manager (or "owner's representative"), whose primary responsibility is to protect the yacht owner's or buyer’s interests. The core functions of an owner’s rep or project manager are to:
• Make certain that the yacht owner or buyer understands and gets what he or she has contracted for.
• Work to see that the build or refit proceeds smoothly, on schedule and on budget.
• Ensure that everyone — owner and yard — finishes up the project on good terms, if not exactly friends.
The key skill in representing an owner is knowledgeable facilitation...
Be warned that, when it comes to yacht construction and refit, self-styled experts abound. Individuals without a clue about the difference between the catalyzed polymerization of polyester resin and the co-reacted polymerization of epoxy-based systems, are more than willing to advise you on the best way to build a fiberglass yacht. Persons who lack even an inkling of understanding concerning the principles of developed and absorbed horsepower, stand ready to tell you in absolute, uncompromising terms what engines and propellers you need. And just about everybody who has walked a dock (marine tradesman, diver, deck hand, broker, or what have you), believes he or she can readily and easily manage your new-build or major refit project. Don’t believe it, not even for an instant.
The size and complexity of luxury pleasure craft have grown over the last two or so decades to the point where we’re no longer building “yachts,” but more accurately small ships. Contemporary mega- and super-yachts are relatively so complex that no set of specifications or plans, no pre-contract discussions and agreements, no set of known yard standards are likely to be complete enough to pre-settle every question or issue that may arise during a new-build or major refit project. This is doubly true in the case of major refits, which inevitably require dealing on the fly with “emergent” work — the necessity of which only becomes apparent after the dismantling phase of the refit has begun.
Add to this the now ubiquitous situation in which an entire team is required for a new-build or major refit — from naval architects to marine engineers, stylists and interior designers, sound and vibration attenuation specialists, and a myriad of other outside experts, all with their own egos and personal agendas. And the upshot is that today, experienced, skilled project-management on the owner's side can be of critical benefit both to the owner and the shipyard.
Truly deft project management:
• Facilitates timely communications and decision making during
a build or refit.
• Assures that an overall vision of the project is maintained that
coincides with that of the yacht’s owner.
• Significantly aids in avoiding misunderstandings during a
refit or build.
• Works to avoid delays and to keep the project on schedule.
• Increases the probability that the project will complete successfully,
and to the owner’s or buyer’s satisfaction.
All of which ultimately have to be the rational objectives of every major
yacht yard in the world, as well as every owner, buyer, and captain.
Thus, a first-rate owner's representative/project manager needs to have an almost encyclopedic knowledge of the technical aspects of yacht construction...
Truly deft project management:
• Facilitates timely communications and decision making during a build or refit.
• Assures that an overall vision of the project is maintained that coincides with that of the yacht’s owner.
• Significantly aids in avoiding misunderstandings during a refit or build.
• Works to avoid delays and to keep the project on schedule.
• increases the probability that the project will complete successfully, and to the owner’s or buyer’s satisfaction.
Some yacht project-management skills and qualifications can be attained through study, but the successful deployment of these skills requires a solid hands-on foundation.
All of which ultimately have to be the rational objectives of every major yacht yard in the world, as well as every owner, buyer, and captain.
In addition to possessing an almost encyclopedic knowledge of the technical aspects of yacht construction,
a first-rate owner’s rep needs to be able to:
• Assess job progress and evaluate the adequacy of the yard’s allocation of necessary resources, by means of “shadowing” the yard’s project planning and management.
• Accurately quantify, on an ongoing basis, “earned value,” i.e. percent of job complete versus percentage of budget
or contract price expended (especially important when progress payments are involved).
• Interface with the yard’s accounting department to achieve accurate cost control, tracking, and reporting,
which is especially critical in T&M situations.
In yacht build and refit project management, experience always matters...
To sum up, the qualifications which are essential for an owner’s rep or project manager to have are:
• A firm grasp of the fundamentals of design and engineering.
• A broad-based technical knowledge of ship’s systems, fittings, and equipment.
• The ability to accurately and objectively interpret the owner’s preferences, needs, and requirements;
• A high degree of people skills, including an understanding of the principles of interest-based negotiating.
• The willingness to place the successful completion of the project ahead of personal ego.
• Familiarity with, and the ability to implement critical path analysis and management, as well as other key project management techniques — using the computer app(s) that we mentioned at the beginning of this post.
Some of these skills and qualifications can be attained through study; but for the most part, their successful deployment requires a solid previous hands-on foundation in yacht building and refit. As in most things marine, when it comes to project management... experience always matters. For then, and only then, can you avoid garbage out. — Phil Friedman
Author's Notes: This article represents a continuation of my return to writing about marine industry topics, after a sojourn into publishing about more general subjects. If you found this industry-specific post of interest, you may want to read some of my other marine industry related articles:
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About me, Phil Friedman: With 30 some years background in the marine industry, I've worn numerous hats — as a yacht designer, boat builder, marine operations and business manager, marine industry consultant, marine marketing and communications specialist, yachting magazine writer and editor, yacht surveyor, and marine industry educator. I am also trained and experienced in interest-based negotiation and mediation. In a previous life, I taught logic and philosophy at university.
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Text Copyright © 2016 by Phil Friedman — All Rights Reserved
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