I'm not a project manager by trade, but I have worked on projects and taken project management training and I am confident in saying this: if you want your project to come in on time and on budget it needs to be properly managed. Especially if it's a large project like, oh I don't know ... just pulling something out of the air here ... the Canadian Museum for Human Rights.
It may come as a surprise to you then, that the project management contract was only just awarded, over three years after the ground breaking ceremony. The RFP (you can still view the notice here) closed on October 24 and approximately two months later the lucky (?) winner was picked. It was supposed to be announced at the end of October but you know how things go ...
When I say “the project management contract”, I mean the task of overall management of the project. The scope of the RFP includes:
- Oversight over the parallel sub-projects that go into the construction of the museum and everything inside the museum, leading up to opening day.
- Coordination, risk management, reporting and resource allocation
- Tracking the status of all major components of construction, including budgets.
- Guidance and recommendations to the CMHR executive.
Why is this only happening now? Maybe they (I don't know who “they” are exactly, but CMHR board, etc.) thought they could handle it on their own? Maybe they realized early on that costs would be tight and decided this would be a good place to cut back? If you bump into Gail Asper at the car wash this week, maybe ask her if you think of it. I would be interested to know. It could just be that the CMHR staff are running around with their heads cut off and didn't find the time to arrange for it.
You can even get a hint of the disorganization within the CMHR project from the RFP. One of the additional tasks that the new PM will have to take care of is creating the Master Project Plan. That's right: there is no Master Project Plan or Schedule. One was not created when the project started, I suppose because there was no Project Manager. They attempted to put one together leading up to this RFP, but were not able to complete it. It's anyone's guess how complete the master plan was when they gave up working on it, but the chosen firm would still have to review and sign the contract before they start working on anything so it's a safe bet that as of right now there is still no completed Master Project Schedule in place. Again, let me remind you: we are three years in to this thing.
The CMHR strikes me as being an organization that has got in a little over their heads. Will the project managers be able to get things back on track? Will they at least be able to keep it from going further off the rails? Will construction grind to a halt when it runs out of money? Questions I can't answer, but the chances of this ending well can't get any worse by putting an actual project plan in place.