We are moving along with the steps that comprise a general scope document (GSD). This month, we will discuss project constraints, the next step in the scope development process.
What do we mean by project constraints? Project constraints are limitations that the project may be faced with due to funding, scheduling or time, technology or resources. These constraints may also be physical, such as logistics or perhaps equipment availability.
Identifying Project Constraints (Limitations)
Prior to developing the GSD, identifying project constraints may influence how the project is managed and may even determine whether you decide to proceed with the project.
Relative to the GSD, constraints or limitations may include:
- Results: project may be cost prohibitive
- Time frames: limited amount of time to complete project (outage or turnaround)
- Resources: limited resources, people, funding, materials, etc.
- Activity performance: may need to use site personnel
- Logistics: equipment placement, movement within the site
Once the team has determined that the project is viable, the constraints must be identified in more detail. Look at each of the items listed individually.
Results: Identify the anticipated results of the completed project. This may seem redundant relative to the owners’ acceptance criteria (OAC), but it is more about clearly stating the absolute minimum that you would expect as a result. This would include input from all team members with a vested interest in the project.
Time frames: Define start dates and completion dates of the project as well as incremental timelines throughout the project. Be specific when developing the timeline by taking into consideration equipment or component deliveries, resources, activity performance and logistics.
Resources: Identify and state the type, amount and availability of resources needed to perform the project. Resources may include people (in-house personnel), funds, equipment (cranes, compressors, power sources, etc.), facilities (office space, workshop, machine shop, etc.), and information (drawings, location of piping and power lines, testing, etc.).
Activity performance: Activity performance identifies strategies for performing the different tasks. An example would be scheduling overhead crane availability so as not to interrupt plant production. Other examples include power disruption, compressor usage and blocking thoroughfare or plant access. These strategies must be carefully thought out and documented in the scope document.
Logistics: Logistics is covered to some extent in the activity segment; however, it does require a bit more detail. Logistics would include—but are not limited to—the placement of contractor equipment, power availability, staging of project materials, warehouse availability for equipment (such as a crane or forklift) that must be undercover, and third-party construction equipment movement within the plant. Logistical planning and identification of constraints may sound like a no-brainer, but I have seen where this fell through the cracks and wound up creating havoc within the plant and significant delays in the completion of the project.
There you have it. Project constraints or limitations are another important step in preparation of the GSD.
Next month: project assumptions. Only three more steps to discuss.
Until next month remember: teamwork—the devil’s in the details.