Project Management for a Wifi rollout

by Guido Tapia

in it-management,

July 22, 2014

Successfully managing a project requires a finely tuned balance of technical knowledge, communication skills, and coordination abilities. Project management is just that — the ability to manage a team of individuals, whom are driven by a common goal, to levels of success that were previously dubbed ‘unattainable.’ A recently finished project management role by PicNet perfectly depicted how combining the right people, with the right skills sets, under the right management can lead to success. In the aforementioned case, the challenge was rollout WiFi services to more than 100 stores, throughout Australia. The inherent challenge was to provide each store with the appropriate speed and capacity of wireless Internet communication, which was essential for the stores’ self-attention kiosk to generate tailored creams for each customer.

At an initial glance, the challenge, from the Project Manager’s (PM) perspective, may appear to be related on how to configure the Access Points router; however, the actual challenge lay within the following complexities:

  1. Customer satisfaction. It was of the utmost importance that the end-consumer remained satisfied throughout the project’s various stages. During the 6 week duration, more than 100 installs, and a final report for each store, it was the main goal of the PM’s goal to keep each end-consumer happy. Not only was this a requirement of the contract, but it was imperative for continued ROI success.
  2. Recognition of stakeholders. The second challenge of this project management example, was recognizing all of the stakeholders that were involved. The lengthy list included: the customer, suppliers, the training team, client management, eight engineers participating in the rollout, and the travel agency.
  3. Coordinating schedules and locations. As with any large-effort project management endeavour, coordination is a skill set that often times proves invaluable. For this project the challenge lay in coordinating travel, car rentals, and accommodations throughout multiple locations across Australia. The added challenge lay in the tight timeline, with which the entire project was to be completed.
  4. PM flexibility. In order to deliver a successful result the PM must be a bit flexible. As such, flexibility to act in accordance with changes to the schedule during the rollout or changes in the requirements (such as adding or removing stores) was a must for this project.
  5. Maintaining control of deliverables. While flexibility was a necessity, maintaining strict control of the plan with regards to scope, budget, and timeline was another important moving factor.
  6. Communication. As previously mentioned, strong communication is always a key factor in successfully completing a project management assignment. In the case of the client, the customer was informed on a daily basis regarding the progress of the project. The latter reports included information on which stores had finished installation, as well as any arising issues and the solutions provided to mitigate damage, while improving end results.

There were several key components that were utilized to meet all of the client’s deliverables.

  1. A detailed plan: This plan included the technical variables, as well as the required coordination. For example, the plan included a pilot, which was the install of one store. In that pilot, the client measured all of the potential issues that could arise. This was done in order to determine if the rest of the plan would be feasible. The challenges and ultimate success of the pilot was instrumental in completing the entire project in a timely and cost-effective manner.
  2. Daily coordination with engineers: Every morning the PM communicated with the engineers to coordinate if the schedule was going to remain the same, or if it was necessary to introduce a schedule change. In addition, the client was contacted at the end of the day to receive a progress update regarding which stores had been completed and the impending schedule for the next day. In some cases, modifications were needed and were properly communicated to the engineers or the travel agency.
  3. Documentation: Before the rollout, the engineers generated a document containing the standard install. However, as it was expected, every store provided a slightly different case. In order to learn about the experience added in each store, it was necessary to keep an updated install document, which depicted the lessons learned, as well as implementation protocol for the next install.
  4. Resource planning: By utilizing a proper resource allocation plan, the project was completed within budget.
  5. Progress control: A weekly report was issued to divulge the level of progress for the entire project. This report included the main issues that were encountered and the subsequent solutions that were provided. The report also contained the short-term plan for the next week. This sort of “Burn down chart” report (similar to the one used in Agile methodology), was very useful for determining potential problems, changes required in the schedule for the customer, and keeping track of achieved work.
  6. Project closing: At the end of the project, a final report was produced. The final report grouped together all of the previously produced reports, indicated problems encountered and their solutions, and established improvements for similar future projects.

By successfully recognizing the challenges of the project, as well as the key aspect deliverables, the client obtained the following major achievements for the project:

  • Customer satisfaction. This goal was achieved by successfully finishing the project on time and within budget, all while keeping the end-consumer satisfied.
  • Effective and efficient communication. The customer was provided with a set of documents that were signed off by the managers of each store, and provided a detailed account of the activities performed. Daily and final store reports were delivered throughout the project. A final recap report on the entirety of the project was also delivered to the client.
  • Challenges were met and surpassed. Upon the client’s request all of the required stores were installed with the needed WiFi connection. However, some of the stores involved complex engineering solutions. During the latter cases, the PM was able to implement a client approved solution.

In summation, the project has been described as a success and the final solution was ready to implement in June, much to the appreciation of the client.

If you want to read more about this project, please review the Case Study.