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Case Study: Phase 1

Case Study: Phase 1

Author: Jeff Carroll

Identify key aspects of a project during Phase 1: Beginning a Project.

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Source: Image of curved arrows, house, couple, man with papers, man in construction helmet, belt, sale tag, thought balloon, sun, dashed arrows, right angle arrow, tube, scroll paper, yellow highlight, images by Video Scribe, License held by Jeff Carroll; Image of compass, Public Domain,

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Hi, I'm Jeff, and in this lesson, we'll begin discussing a case study for a real world project. We'll go through all four phases of the project life cycle, covering each in the lesson. This lesson will cover phase one, beginning the project, so let's get started.

The case study that we'll use today is the development and construction of a highly energy efficient house for a couple. The couple wishes to move out of their larger home and into a smaller place that saves them money. As we have noted before, the general contractor for a home construction is actually a project manager by another name. So we'll refer to them as a project manager in these lessons.

If you recall, the initial step in phase one will be identifying the stakeholders and gathering their expectations. This is the project manager's responsibility. Who are the stakeholders? Certainly, the couple who are building the house will be the key stakeholders for the project. But are there any other stakeholders? Since this is an energy efficient house, the architect should be considered a stakeholder too.

Next, the project manager goes through the process to gather expectations from the stakeholders. With a house construction, the homeowners, the architect, and the project manager work closely to define those expectations. The homeowners discuss, often in general terms, what they want. Then, the architect and the project manager provide the knowledge and the expertise to make those expectations realistic and define the scope of the project.

The first step when defining a project scope is to determine the goals and objectives. In this case, the homeowners wish to take advantage of modern construction methods and materials to create an energy efficient home. However, they don't want to spend too much money adding those improvements. So one goal for our project will be to create a home that is above average in energy efficiency, but does not cost more than 15% over the cost of an average home.

The deliverables are defined next. For this project, the deliverable will be the house. Next, the requirements are documented. These flow from the expectations and the goals and objectives that the homeowners and the architect have for the home. For example, let's say that the homeowners want to make greater use of the solar energy from the sun. But, as just noted, they want to keep cost down on the home.

The architect might suggest that they don't use solar panels since those are too expensive for the budget, but instead, the house can have a majority of its windows on the south side where it will receive sun during winter to help heat the home. If the homeowners agree, then this is documented by the project manager as a requirement for the home.

Next, the assumptions are documented. These help define what is expected to happen in the future and how that impacts the project. One assumption for this project might be that more efficient heating systems will be on the market and ready for installation by the time the house is built. If this assumption turns out not to be true, then the project will need to be changed.

Estimates must be made for the schedule and the budget of the home. For our project, since the homeowners wish to remain 15% above the cost of an average home, the project manager could research the cost of an average home, then add 15% to reach the desired budget. Other similar construction projects can also be used to create a timeline for the work and give the homeowners an indication of when they could move in. Risks are noted during this phase.

The architect might warn the project manager that, in previous projects, the temperature increases in the summer, due to the increased windows on the south, cause the home to overheat. This is a risk for our project. And one contingency that might be put in place to handle this risk would be the installation of overhangs that shield the southern windows in summer. These should be documented by the project manager.

And finally, the project governance is documented. For example, in our house project, any change request for the home must be approved by the homeowners and the architect before the project can be changed. Also, the architect must approve all work at the end of each phase before the project can proceed to the next phase. During this phase, the project manager also decides on the methods that will be used to manage the project.

Since the construction of a home is very sequential, with clear dependencies, and the requirements are well-defined, the phase-based method will be used. From this information, the project manager then facilitates the creation of the project scope documents, including any supporting material to help to find the project scope. In this case, the blueprints for the home as well as the list of approved materials that can be used in an energy efficient home are part of the documentation.

Once these documents are complete, the project manager presents them to the homeowners and the architect for their approval. Once approved, the project can move on to the next phase.

All right, good job! In this lesson, we walked through phase one, the beginning of a project, using a real world case study. Thanks for listening, and have a great day.