|What are the success factors for PMs on rail transit projects?
Each industry has unique processes and protocols for executing projects within key performance metrics. However, the project management profession is built around well tested definitions, processes, procedures, tools and techniques. They can cross industries and they will produce records of best practices, lessons learned, and the most relevant metrics.
Success factors for project managers that cross industries include:
• Effective communications
• Accessible and available to staff
• Show respect and value input from team members, stakeholders, funding partners, contributing consultants and contractor and oversight consultants.
• Utilize project plans, management plans, contracts and organizational assets to enforce requirements and maintain control of progress, changes and risks
• Continue to learn and utilize best practices in project management
• Contribute equally to the efforts expected from project team members
• Practice the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People (S. R. Covey): 1) Be Proactive. 2) Begin with the End in Mind. 3) Put First Things First. 4) Think Win – Win. 5) Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood. 6) Synergize. 7) Sharpen the Saw.
Rail transit projects are executed by railroads, subways and surface transit companies in order to maintain or expand services to customers. This consists of heavy rail, light rail, and subway service to support customer needs for short and long haul passenger and freight operations. Most of these companies have been in business for many years or they have taken over companies with a long history in the business.
The capital projects involve large expenditures to maintain infrastructure and rolling stock; to construct new right of way infrastructure, customer facilities and employee facilities and shops; or to expand assets to create new services and travel destinations. The projects are typically funded by tax payers monies provided from the government including local, state and federal coffers. The projects are usually influenced by the state of heavy industry for passenger and freight cars, electric substations and distribution, and new technologies and advancements for controlling and monitoring operations.
And so, there are success factors that are unique to rail-transit domain, which encompasses an Agency, Owner/Operator or Client (Agency). The success factors for project managers on rail-transit projects include the following:
• Recognize Agency employees are committed to sustaining operations long after the project completion
• Demonstrate professionalism, critical skills, values and competencies that are aligned with the Agency’s Mission and Core Values
• Review and understand Agency organization chart and division/department responsibilities
• Research, learn and become familiar with all Agency organizational processes, procedures and Forms
• Accept the Agency’s risk management policy that does not accept unplanned impacts to scheduled service promised to and paid in advance by customers
• Research and become familiar with all requirements of regulatory and funding agencies that oversee the Agency, such as Federal Transit Agency, Federal Railroad Administration, and Department of Transportation.
• Cultivate positive relationships throughout the operating portion of Agency.
TIP: Read: The Railroad. What It Is, What it Does. The Introduction to Railroading. John H, Armstrong, Simmons Boardman Publishing
TIP: Agencies have long histories and even longer memories. Any slight, miss-placed criticism or embarrassments will be remembered.
TIP: Negative events need to be avoided and if actualized, reconciled as quickly as possible.
TIP: Accept that there is always room for improvement and that implementing any improvement will be based on positive relationships, collaboration and deferring execution to an Agency department.
TIP: Follow management protocols but exert influence through team members, stakeholders and Agency managers. If it does not work, let it go for another day in the future.