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Lilliput Education: Advance Project Management

Introduction

The aim of the given project is to improve the quality of education in Lilliput. Lilliput is governed by Lilliput Metropolitan Borough Council. The program is focused on schools under the jurisdiction of the Lilliput Metropolitan Borough Council.

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Objectives of key parties of the project

The key parties involved in the project are the metropolitan council, the management team of the four schools, and the students of the four schools. The program is known as building schools for the future.

The objective of the council is to ensure a bright future for the children who reside in Lilliput and to close the gap of inequality. The council aims to extend good educational programs to the students that what they normally learn from the schools. The council will extend an individual and family focused program to enhance the value of all the learners.

The second key party involved in the project is the four schools. The Southgate Centre for Inclusive Learning (SCIL) is one of the participants of the project. The school intends ton impart education to the pupil based upon their needs. The major objective of SCIL is to develop the skills of the mainstream teaching staff. The second school is Archbishop Cranmer Catholic School. The major focus of this school is on the core skills of the students and their social commitment. Wood Green School is the third school in the program. The major focus of this school is on the curriculum improvement. It targets the students from the age group of 14 – 19. Another major focus of the school is to develop alternative means of learning. Southgate school is the last school participant in the program. They focus primarily on the health and energy of the students. They aspire that the pupils should also be able to continue their education beyond the age of 16.

The objective of the students is to utilize an opportunity in front of them for their development. The development program designed by the four schools and the council will have to be utilized by the students properly.

Differences in collaborative approach

At present the schools are competing based on their individual strengths. Every school has a positive as well as a negative side. In a collaborative approach, the weakness of one school will be compensated by the strength of another school. For example a school must be poor at developing the co curricular activities of the students but may be good at developing the academic quality. When it collaborates with another school that has got good skill for developing the co curricular activities the final result will be better. This is the change that a collaborative approach can bring into the project.

Review of the objectives

A close review of the strength and weakness of the different schools reveal that they are aligned differently. Whereas one school focuses on the academic qualifications of the teachers the second schools focuses on the learning skills of the students and the third school focuses on the content of the curriculum. Thus it can be inferred that the objectives are not properly aligned and they need realignment for the overall development of the students and school.

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Uncertainties, risks, complexities and opportunities in the project

The major uncertainty in application of the project is the change in government as well as governmental policies. If the government changes any policy during the execution stage of the project, changes will have to be made in the project plan inorder to match the project with the current governmental policy. Another risk and uncertainty in the project is an abnormal increase in the price of construction materials. This will impact the financial allocation of the project. If the project involves an extension of the current infrastructure, it will affect the day today working of the school particularly environmental hazards. The major complexity of the project is that it has four partners. It is difficult to satisfy the interest of one partner suppressing the interest of the other. Thus a common strategy should be developed after considering all the partners which is a complex task. The major opportunity of the project is that the region has numerous talented students. This means that the project when completed will provide developmental programs to more number of students. The project will thus benefit Lilliput by helping the region to change its whole outlook. The region’s better infrastructural facility will help the project to be implemented quickly with minimum financial commitment.

Complexity management is a possible solution for reducing the complexities and cost of the project. Complexity management involves better forecast of the uncertainties in the future. A better plan for dealing with the uncertainties must be designed in the very beginning of the project. Sufficient fund should be allocated for making good the losses that may be incurred by the uncertainties. Thus, an efficient complexity management system can ensure that a project is completed with less cost for managing complexities.

Division between north and south Borough

It can be analyzed from the case that there existed a division between the north and south of the Borough. The major reason for the division is the location factor. A higher account of inequality is reflected in the focus given to north and south regions. The location of all the schools is a factor that resulted in the inequality between the two regions. If the most efficient school is located in the north, more development will take place in the north. A proper distribution of the institutions is not present in the region. Another reason for the division is the differences in certain demographic elements. The skills and knowledge of the people of one area differs from that of the other. It is not necessary that the whole region should have equal distribution of skilled people and students.

Knowledge management can be applied to solve this problem of inequality. Knowledge management is the strategy used by organizations inorder to identify proper knowledge and distribute it to the proper region. Knowledge management has emerged as a separate discipline in the present era. It also refers to the creation of knowledge. Knowledge management is concerned with the knowledge on the area where it is applied. For example knowledge management in IT sector, knowledge management in human resources, etc. Knowledge management can be applied in this context inorder to enable equal distribution of the benefits of the project. First of all a proper analysis of the knowledge and skills possessed by the persons of the north as well as of the south should be made. A ranking of the different region has to be made or prioritized. This will help the project executioners to plan the knowledge required for each region. The potential population of a particular location has to be imparted the knowledge he lacks so that he becomes equally competent with the people of the other region. This should be developed as a combined effort between all the schools that involved in the project. A review of feedback process is very much essential inorder to make sure that the people has acquired necessary knowledge.

Initial actions as a project manager

The given project is regarding a wide educational program. It can be seen that this is a project that involves the participation of different parties. Therefore it is more complex than a project that is undertaken by a single concern. The major participants of the project are the governing body of Lilliput, Lilliput Metropolitan Borough Council and four major schools of the region. These two can be referred to as the sponsors of the project. The teachers and students are the actual beneficiaries of the project.

The first step be made in the project is to make a proper plan. The plan should include all the aspects of the project from its beginning to the end. The plan should contain a reporting regarding the contribution of each participant towards the project. This is necessary to avoid any disputes in the future.

The second step is that the whole region has to split up on the basis of the knowledge and skills possessed by the persons. The whole area has to be divided and ranked on the basis of the skills. This approach should be accepted because only then specialized focus can be given to the weaker sections. This will enable all the people to stand in the same position when the project is completed. Maintaining the following qualities will help the project to be successful.

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  • Good coherence between the participants: Efforts to maintain a good relationship and understanding between the participants of the project will be carried on so that there is less disputes. Usually a bad relationship between the participants will adversely affect the success of the project.
  • Proper authority for monitoring each location: The project is about developing the academic and other skills of the people. As per the first strategy the whole region has to be grouped on the basis of the knowledge possessed by the people. A specialized executive has to be appointed for monitoring the developments that take place in the group assigned to him. Any errors happened in the group will be reported to the project manager immediately for rectification.

Payment mechanism used

The contract is between the bidder and the project sponsors. The contract contains all the commercial clauses of which a payment mechanism is most important. The payment mechanism can be as under.

10% of contract value as mobilization advance or for procurement of materials. For this the contractor has to execute a bank guarantee in favor of the project sponsors. 80% of the contract value will be paid in four stages such as completion of foundation, completion of super structure, completion of paintings and completion of interiors. These are the milestones in the project and progressive payment will be made as soon as each milestone is achieved. The final 10% of the contract value will be paid only after one year of completion of the project. This can be released against providing a bank guarantee. The final 10% is withheld for one year inorder to meet the cost of rectification in case of any damage that might occur in one year.

Problems that might encounter in the project life cycle

The problems that the project might encounter are availability of funds to meet the milestones in the project and the timely completion of the project.

Although at the project planning stage affordability has been worked out and viability of the project ensured, in practice the fund flow may not match with the requirements. Hence project completion has to be divided and separate budget allocated for each milestone in the project. Since different agencies are involved in funding the project proper coordination between the agencies is a prerequisite. A memorandum of understanding should be arrived at between the parties regarding the participation of the fund required. This MoU should be reviewed periodically to ensure that commitments of the various parties are fully complied with. Proper reporting regarding the amounts spend on different stages should be made and intimated to the finance providers so that there is less chance for any dispute.

Cost is another important problem that a project might encounter. There may be underestimation as well as overestimation. The cost that is tabulated in the beginning of the project based on the costs of various inputs as the inflation is rampant, the cost of raw materials are expected to go beyond expectation. So it is necessary to enter into fixed price contracts. No provision should be made for price variation in the contract. Enough publicity should be give at the tendering stage so that we get as many bidders as possible. When there is more number of bidders we will have more bargaining power. This will help to reduce the cost of the project.

Timely completion of the project is another major issue in front of the project executioners. For many reasons a project may be delayed by different days, months or even years. Variation in the cost of the project depends to a large extent on the timely completion of the project. Project management techniques such as PERT and CPM should be utilized to monitor the completion period of each activity. The activities on the critical path should have special funds and man power allocated so that they are not delayed due to resource crunch. Since time is money the activities in the critical path may be crashed to match the completion period of the project. Resources of activities on the slack path should be diverted to the activities on the critical path and proper balance maintained.

The project team encounters the following obstacles:

  1. different points of view
  2. role conflict
  3. power struggle

Each of these barriers must be overcome to successfully complete the assigned project.

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BSF and its usage for improving performance in future

Building Schools for Future (BSF) is a national initiative aimed at improvement of infrastructural facilities in schools in the course of next 15 years. The programme mainly focuses on construction of state of the art buildings and providing most modern IT infrastructure in the campus. The main aim of such a programme is to get the students well acquainted with the developments around them. It is an innovative idea which was introduced in the year 2006. In an era of global competition, the students must be groomed to face the challenges of the fast changing world. This programme will also help the students to adapt and grow with the technologically advanced world. With this in view the curriculum will also be updated and the method of teaching will be given a new facelift. The quality of teachers will also be improved with new empowerment programme. It is extremely a future oriented programme. It helps a student to manifest his inborn skills in line with the requirements of the technologically changing environment.

BSF programme itself is a future oriented approach. The BSF programme should be effectively managed so that it gives the desired result. The programme is a school focused approach. First of all a clear analysis regarding the existing condition of a school should be prepared. The report should include the infrastructural facilities of the location of the school and the technical knowledge and skills possessed by the students and teachers. On the basis the existing condition proper improvements have to be planned for the school. The present educational system laid undue emphasis on developing the memory skills of the students. The future system will lay emphasis in developing the innovative skills of the students. It will also improve the analytical skills of the students instead of relying on the volume of knowledge. The students will thus not only develop the skills of managing the present technology but also to learn the changes and developments in the present technology.

Key strategic questions

Question 1: The authority for educational outcomes, diversity of provision, fair access and choice rests with the Lilliput Metropolitan Borough Council. BSF is a national policy and it is implemented through the local self government. As such the local government for Lilliput is Metropolitan Borough Council with whom the authority is delegated. They exercise control over the educational institutions regarding the application of BSF programme.

Question 2: BSF is highly a future and result oriented approach towards the educational system of the country. It adds high value to the students in terms of technology and developments. It equips the students with good knowledge of the happenings around them. The students will have a global outlook even when they are groomed in the local educational institutions. The BSF programme will reduce the academic gap between the ordinary schools and the Public schools.

Question 3: The parent teachers associations which are dormant at present should be made lively by participation of the parents in the cultural and entertainment activities in the schools. Parents should be given an outline of the new curriculum so that they are able to assess the changes and they should equip themselves with the new changes.

Question 4: The schools performing below average should be identified and the reasons for the poor performance should be examined. The reasons for the poor performance can be the location, the social background of the students and the lack of interest of the parents.

Question 5: The students coming from socially backward areas may find it difficult to compete with the students from the urban area. Such students should be given personal attention by the teachers to make them get rid of their inferiority complex. The educational programme for such students should be extended beyond the regular working hours so that specialized attention can be given to them. A psychological approach should be adopted inorder to get rid of the learning disabilities of the students.

Question 6: Learning and Skills Council (LSC) is non profitable voluntary organization established with the purpose of improving the learning skills of students. They work in close contact with the schools under the BSF programme. They provide necessary help for students in the age group of 14 – 19 in the field of vocational training to make the school education more job oriented.

Question 7: Every Child Matters is a new approach by the government for recognition and development of the skills of every child in the country. The programme is focused on students from birth till the age of 19. It is a joint effort of the various agencies of the government like hospitals, police department and educational institutions and the local bodies to ensure the economic well being, safety environment and healthy social life. The Lilliput Metropolitan Borough Council lays special emphasis on this programme so that every student leads a life free from worries so that he can concentrate more on his studies.

Question 8: The programme Every Child Matters is an effort of the government to include all the sectors of the student population including students who require special attention. The students who require special attention due to the learning disabilities are categorized under Special Education Needs (SEN). The authority has established a special cell to monitor the impact of BSF on students under SEN category. This cell will monitor the requirement of SEN category students and how they can be fulfilled.

Question 9: The major issue that confronts the authority is that the teachers are not updated with the latest knowledge. The changes happening around are not being learned by the teachers. Instead they continue their profession with knowledge that are years old. This will hamper the effectiveness of the development programme. The authority should develop sufficient developmental programs for the teachers so that they will be able to impart new skills to the students.

Application of knowledge management for managing communication

Communication management is an offshoot of information management, more recently known as knowledge management. The efficiency of an organization depends on how the knowledge penetrates to the correct person at the appropriate time. Knowledge reaching ten wrong people is also dangerous. Therefore communication has to be really effective in projects such as BSF. This is a national project and hence the benefits of the projects should reach the nooks and corners of the country. Hence wide publicity through newspapers and TV is essential. At the micro level Lilliput Metropolitan Borough Council has built in an effective communication system.

The representatives of the school management and the representatives of the council form a task force who meet periodically to exchange information and monitor the progress of the project. The task force meets the press club members and informs the progress of the project at regular intervals.

The present team structure is well organized. It involves the participation of specialists in each category. There is clear division of work and authority at every level. This will ensure smooth flow of information from one level to the other. There is no necessity for a restructuring for application of knowledge management techniques which are already incorporates in the structure.

Tender accepted

A two part tendering system was evolved to find out the best bidder. The first part is the commercial part and the second is the price part. The commercial part contained an evaluation of the bidders’ past performance and experience in executing similar contracts. The price part contains only the price of the project. Price bids of contractors who qualify in the commercial part were only accepted. Sufficient publicity was given in the local papers and there was wide response to the advertisement. However only a handful qualified for the experience/competency prescribed for the contractors in terms of the largest contract they have executed in the last five years and their experience in providing infrastructure for school buildings. The preferred bidder was BAMPPP and E Pact was retained as a reserve bidder. A scientific vendor analysis was made as this involved a project of national importance and any delay will involve prestige of the government. Therefore it can be summarized that the method adopted here was foolproof and hence no change in procedure is warranted.

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