Project Management for Safety Professionals Part 3

Level 2 and 3 projects required a Change Management Plan to ensure changes were reviewed and approved. This was because Level 2 and 3 projects were found to cost considerable amounts of money and time if not managed correctly. Changes were also coordinated across the entire project, and stakeholders were involved. An informal process was found to be best for change management at Level 1. The goals of a Change Management Plan were (Office, 2006) to:

  • Identify, define, evaluate, approve, and track changes through to completion.
  • Bring the appropriate parties into the discussion.
  • Negotiate changes and communicate them to affected parties.
  • Give due consideration to change requests. Modify project plans to reflect the impact of the changes.

The Change Management process was intended to be scalable and included the following steps (A, 2005):

  1. Submit change request in writing
  2. Review change request
  3. Approve change request
  4. Reject change requests for further analysis
  5. If approved, perform analysis and develop a recommendation
  6. If rejected, return to submitter
  7. Accept or reject the recommendation
  8. If accepted, update project documents and re-plan
  9. If rejected, go back to submitter
  10. Notify all stakeholders of the change.

Change requests were reviewed daily by the project manager and assigned one of four possible outcomes: rejected, deferred to a future date, accepted, or set aside until additional information is received.

I will provide an example of each project level.

Level 1 Project

The first project I managed was the implementation of a hazardous communications program. The project scope included:

  • Developing a regulation that explained the program and identified roles and responsibilities.
  • Developing a training program so every worker understood the regulation.
  • Developing an inspection checklist to ensure organizations complied with the regulation.

I was given eight months to complete the project with no additional funding. This was a level 1 project, and I was provided 40 hours of training before managing it. I completed the project meeting all three deliverables on time using the information I have provided you in this book.

Level 2 Project

The second project I was assigned was a Safety and Occupational Health Interface. This was a computer-based interface between Industrial Hygienists, Occupational Health Nurses, and safety professionals. The project scope required us to:

  • Develop a regulation that explained the interface and identified roles and responsibilities.
  • Acquire a computer system that was equivalent to the computer system used by Industrial Hygienists and Occupational Health Nurses for each participating safety professional.
  • Provide the training course Introduction to Industrial Hygiene for each safety professional.
  • Provide the training class on the software used by Industrial Hygienist and Occupational Health Nurses to safety
  • Develop an inspection checklist.
  • Conduct an initial staff assistance visit with each safety professional.
  • Coordinate the first quarterly safety data that was provided to Industrial Hygiene and Occupational Health Nurse

I was the second project manager assigned. I was not given a timeline or a budget. This was a level 2 project and I did not receive any additional training to manage the project. The project was completed within 18 months with all deliverables met. As the project manager, I used the principles in this book to make sure my management of this project was successful.

Level 3 Project

The third project I managed was the improvement program for the department worker’s compensation program. The project scope included:

  • Identify cases without complete information and request that information.
  • Identify any cases caused by a third party and notify the solicitor to pursue legal action to regain costs.
  • Identify cases where the worker could be returned to work.
  • Identify cases where the surviving spouse had remarried and was under the age of 55, and follow-up to have payments stopped.
  • Identify cases where the surviving children had turned 18 or 24 while attending college, and follow-up to have payments stopped.
  • Develop a new standard operating procedure for the program.

This was a level 3 project with a thirteen-month time limit and no budget. There were three people on the project team.

The project team reduced costs of the program by $75,000 annually within the first six months of the program. The team completed all deliverables within the time frame using the principles I have provided in this book.

As you can see, occupational safety and health projects come in all shapes and sizes. The most common projects will be level 1. That doesn’t mean that there won’t be level 2 and 3 projects that need to be done. That is why it is important to have project managers prepared at each of the levels. Again, though, I encourage you not to have all project managers qualified at level 3 because that would be a waste.

In my experience, most safety professionals who may be called upon to lead projects do not receive sufficient training to collect customer requirements or execute a project to budget, time, and scope constraints.

Thus, many projects come in over budget or take much longer to complete than scheduled. These failed projects overshadow the many that are executed correctly.

Although the Project Management Institute has developed standards and a body of knowledge to help anyone called upon to manage a project, the uptake of the Project Management Body of Knowledge® is often problematic. Safety professionals tend to overlook processes and policies developed by non-safety organizations. The solution is for more safety professionals who know the Project Management Institute standards to use them in safety projects to show that they, in fact, do work and can ensure projects meet the triple constraints.

Safety professionals should also get trained and certified. This will allow them to successfully implement projects while also making them more competitive in the job market. Safety project managers do not need to be an expert in project management unless they perform project management more than 60% of their time.

I believe that safety project managers all need to know how to manage a project properly in today’s world and must have the proper tools to help them be successful.

Through the identification of and using project processes, the project manager can account for budgets, maintain schedules, and detect and validate customer requirements, allowing them to meet the triple constraints. This increases the chances of project success while reducing the likelihood of project failure.

About Fred Fanning Author

Fred Fanning spent over 20 years in the safety profession. His final safety position was as the Director of Occupational Safety and Health for the U.S. Department of Commerce. He began writing in 1994, published his first book in 1998, and began writing professionally in 2015. He has authored and coauthored articles, written books, and chapters for technical books and stories for anthologies.
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