The Pyramid of Cheops at Giza is considered to have been the first major event in the history of project management. It satisfies all the criteria that a project has to fulfill today. This structure embarked upon new territory, had to coordinate many different crafts and tradesmen. The logistical challenges in bringing in the stone were tremendous, funding was limited, and time pressure was enormous. After all, the pyramid had to be finished by the time of the pharaoh’s death – and that was something no one could predict.
Supplying solutions in line with the market
Today the primary object of project work is to offer the market a solution that exhibits the desired quality, can be delivered punctually and within the framework of a pre-defined budget, and meets customer expectations. Ideally, these goals can be reached using a project and quality management system that makes relevant expertise available as needed. This requires highly disciplined, trackable documentation of plans, processes and results, supported by suitable tools and utilities. Simulations, for instance, can help to shorten the time to market. Systematic completion of assignments must be continually optimized, to remain competitive in the international arena and to avoid inefficient procedures.
Project work is normally broken down into the following phases: In the acquisition phase the supplier receives initial information about an upcoming project. Customers are provided with references and potential solutions for their projects. Often drawing on the support of outside consultants, the customer draws up a request for bids and forwards it to potential suppliers. They, in turn, examine the documents and decide in the course of the subsequent quality evaluation (release) whether to submit a bid. Matters to be considered are whether sufficient capacities are available and whether the schedule offers adequate time for engineering, manufacture, assembly, and commissioning.
The bidding phase is one of the central phases in a project and covers commercial, financial and technical questions. The focus here is on preparing a technical concept and calculating the costs for the equipment to be delivered and the services rendered. The contract terms may be just as unique as the project itself. Agreements will have to be reached on the scope of delivery, payments and payment guarantees, schedules, penalties and, of course, the contract sum itself. The supplier and the customer undertake a pledge to adhere to all the conditions of the contract. The goal for both parties is to draft a fair contract.
Once the contract has been signed, the first step is to prepare the system engineering. The technical concept drafted in the offer will be further developed and cleared with the customer. The goal here is to identify the ideal technical concept within the defined project budget. The preliminary design review, examining the technical aspects of the concept, provides procurement agents with the basis for ordering materials requiring long lead times and delivery periods. The technical concept will be fine-tuned in the detailed engineering and design phase to the point that in the following step – production and procurement – all the components can be made or bought.