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Reaching for the Stars: A brief introduction on How to be successful in project management and what pitfalls to avoid.

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Managing Aerospace Projects How to be successful in project management and what pitfalls to avoid

Reaching for the StarsHow to be successful in project management and what pitfalls to avoid

Dora E Musielak, Ph.D.May 2010

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Why many programs in aerospace and defense industry run over cost and over time?

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Project Management in Aerospace

Projects in aerospace and defense industry are large, challenging, multidisciplinary, and complex.Many programs are globally distributedMultiple partnersDesign and build teams may be spread out around nation or world

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Project Management in Aerospace

Mars Climate Orbiter Failure Board Releases Report, Numerous NASA Actions Underway in Response SpaceRef.com, Nov 10, 1999Failure-Space: A systems engineering look at 50 space system failures, J. S. Newman (NASA, 2002) Failure Space perspective reminds one of need for thorough and complete risk management and assurance process implementation over life of a project as well as, increased emphasis on lessons learned and recurrent monitoring of critical process fidelity.

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Consequences of Failure

Negative publicity generated by program failures is bad for company and hurt reputation of aerospace engineering communityShare values decreaseRisk viability of companyPenalties when contract are performance-related and fixed-costWaste public financesDelay of key servicesUnemployment, reduction in capital investments, etc

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Causes of Failure

Poor Initial PlanningLack of Clear Objectives and DeliverablesLack of Understanding of DependenciesInadequate Resource AllocationPoor Risk AnalysisPoor Change ManagementLack of buy-in from StakeholdersPoor Understanding of PrioritiesToo Many Layers of Management

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Outmoded Methods

There are over 78 software packages for project management!According to experts, methodology of program management and planning tools has not changed in 50 years.Project management techniques originated in 1950s when US military sought scientific means of managing its Cold War procurement programs.*PERT was developed for Polaris missile program

* Lawrence, P., Planning in the Dark: Why Major Engineering Projects Fail, J. Tech. Assessment & SM (2007)

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Cultural Factors

Pathological Culture

Bureaucratic Culture

Generative Culture

Dont want to know bad news

May not find out

Actively seek information

Whistle-blowers are shot

Messengers listened to if they arrive

Messengers are trained and rewarded

Responsibility shirked

Responsibility is compartmentalized

Responsibility is shared

Failure ispunished/hidden

Failures lead to local repairs

Failures lead to far reaching reforms

New ideas are discouraged

New ideas create problems

New ideas are welcome

Ref: P. Lawrence, Planning in the Dark: Why Major Engineering Projects Fail to Achieve Key Goals, J. Tech Assessment and Strategic Management (2007)

Types of Organizational Culture

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What Pitfalls to Avoid

Projects lack right resources and right skills. Proper project staffing and resource allocation is crucial for project success, yet improperly assigning resources tops list of most common management mistakes. Not having right people on a project can kill it. Program doesnt follow a standard, optimized project management process. Lack of methodology increases risk that tasks related to project will fall through cracks, projects will have to be re-worked, and that a project wont be completed on time or on budget. Project hamstrung by too much process/over-management.Too much process makes project team inflexible, and their inflexibility frustrates stakeholders. Lack of effective communication.Reinventing the Wheel!

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Secrets to Success

Communicate WellOrganize Team/ResourcesLeadBuild and Nurture Excellent TeamsClearly Define DeliverableManage ChangeAccurate Estimates

Document EverythingInvolve the CustomerMake the Tough CallsBe ProactiveIdentify Risks, Dependencies and AssumptionsSet Realistic DeadlinesKIS (Keep It Simple)

Reduce layers of project management to streamline decisions and delivery

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Secrets to Successful PM

PM ensures team has right people for job and that they can and will work together as a team. They need right mix of technical skills, and they need to be a balance of thinkers and doers, starters and finishers. PM creates a tangible picture of finished deliverables in minds of everyone involved so that all effort is focused in same direction. Its not enough to be held responsible for project outcomes; PM asks for and obtains enough authority to execute responsibilities.

PM must focus on dimensions of project success: completing all deliverables on time, within budget, and to a level of quality that is acceptable to sponsors and stakeholders.

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Successful Project Manager

Looking OutwardsClients, UsersResource providersImage

Looking ForwardsPlanningAnticipatingObjectivesMilestones

Looking UpwardsSponsorCommercial and Political awareness

Looking BackwardsReviewing learningMonitoring progressRewarding achievement

Looking InwardsHow am I performing?Reviewing my priorities

Looking DownwardsHelicopter viewReviewing team processManaging individuals

Vision of Successful Project Leader

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My Qualifications

Specialized in thermal sciences, fluid mechanics, and rocket propulsion. Led and managed numerous R&D projects in industry and academia in areas ranging from gas turbine propulsion to studies of scramjet engines. Written over a hundred technical reports and articles and presented many at national and international conferences. Chaired technical sessions at conferences and organized/taught AIAA professional courses. Recipient of two NASA research fellowships. Created electronic, searchable databases including Lessons Learned and rocket design methodology that allowed my company to process technical information fast and reliably, thus increasing engineers productivity.Possess organizational, interpersonal, communication, analytical, and skills that are essential to leading a critical project and support activities for companys growth such as BD and R&D.

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My Vision Statement

I will become a leader in my industry, helping transform it into an organization that respects all its stakeholders, while at the same time works to keep teams motivated in challenging situations, and inspire excellence. As a Program Manager, I will vigorously support my employer to provide our customers exceptional capabilities with guaranteed lower costs and increased reliability.I will accomplish this goal by working my way up the ladder and proving my determination and expertise to my team while gaining the respect of my colleagues. It would be a privilege to grow and work within an organization that aims to revolutionize access to space and change the paradigm to permit humans to explore the cosmos even further.

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Contact

Dora E Musielakmusielak@scientist.com

Questions?

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