Archive for February, 2010


Successful Project

Shared Information Technology (IT) Services

The Community Health Network was formed to share information technology (IT) resources among varying sized community health organizations across Tennessee, from one doctor, one location, to much larger groups in multiple locations. A Rural Health Network development grant funded the startup of the state wide area network (WAN) and a shared practice management system.

This program began out of need of the smaller centers to share IT resources available to the larger members. A willingness to share is a crucial ingredient.

Currently the services that have been offered are four centers operating 17 clinics share the practice management system while four others utilize some of their other services such as internet access and email. They do IT consulting for all 14 members of the group and are implementing an Electronic Health Record at two member sites. They are also implementing a state wide Telehealth Network in over 40 locations.

The network may have struggled in the early years due to bad leadership, but presently they’ve been stable for nearly four years., acheiving sustainability and expanding services. With consistent stable leadership and member commitment have been keys to network success.

The project goals are ever evolving as the membership grows and as the members within grow individually. The major goal of working together and sharing has been achieved and the group IT resources serve the stated purpose of keeping the group ahead of the IT curve.

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Empire State Building – A Lesson in Project Management

 

Delyan Ivanov


 

One of the historical landmarks of New York City is the Empire State Building. A 102-story massive Art Deco skyscraper, its process of building and completion can be a valuable lesson as successful project.

The building was the brain-child of John J. Raskob, the vice-president of General Motors, who wanted this new building to exceed the height of the rival car manufacturer’s Chrysler Building, still under construction when the plans were released on August 29, 1929. The program given to the architects called for a tight schedule of completion one and a half years after the start of the project.

Empire State Building was designed by William F. Lamb from the architectural firm “Shreve, Lamb and Harmon”, which produced the building drawings in just two weeks, using its earlier designs for the Reynolds Building in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and the Carew Tower in Cincinnati, Ohio as a basis. It is interesting to note that every year the staff of the Empire State Building sends a Father’s Day card to the staff at the Reynolds Building in Winston-Salem to pay homage to its role as predecessor to the Empire State Building. The building was designed from the top down. The general contractors were The Starrett Brothers and Eken. The construction company was chaired by Alfred E. Smith, a former Governor of New York and James Farley’s General Builders Supply Corporation supplied the building materials. John W. Bowser was project construction superintendant. It is worth mentioning that the project required 3, 400 workers, and according to official accounts, five of them died in accidents before the building was finished.

From a certain point of view, such a large-scale project was scheduled to be completed in an unrealistic amount of time. But the Empire State Building in New York City was completed in one year and 45 days, ahead of schedule, whereas official timetable pointed out that the project was to be completed in one year and a half. The total cost for the project was $40,948,900. The Building alone cost $24,718,000. Upon the completion of the skyscraper, it effectively became the then-tallest building in the world, surpassing its rivals, the Chrysler Building and 40 Wall Street.

But those are just the bare, dry facts. I would now like to speculate on why the project was completed successfully in such a short amount of time, with barely any hindrances in the process of its construction.

As with everything else that humans do, we would first like to go to the core, and that is the project planning itself. Obviously, the project developed extremely rapidly, with before-mentioned William Lamb delivering the drawings for the buildings in just two weeks, heavily inspired by the Reynolds Building. We couldn’t exactly say that plagiarism was the cause for his fast work, but in my opinion, a project of this magnitude should be more carefully planned out, instead of passing out a more detailed sketches of an already-existing construction. Also, we could delve in the matter for the building’s rapid construction by looking at the workers that worked on it. Most were immigrants from Europe, along with hundreds of Mohawk iron workers, many from the Kahnawake reserve near Montreal. And as far as speculation goes, the conditions for their working contracts could not have been all-in-all, pleasant.  For this matter, I believe that Lewis Wickes Hine’s photos of the construction at that time speak more clearly about the regulations enforced on the workers than words.

Nevertheless, whatever we may think, the facts speak for themselves. The Empire State Building is a clear example of a successful project, becoming the then-tallest building in the world after its completion, finished ahead of schedule and with minimum casualties prior its construction. The symbolic day on its opening in March 1, 1931, will always remain in history as the day the most iconic building of New York was completed.

On February 1st 2003, the Space Shuttle Columbia disintegrated over Texas while attempting to re-enter the Earths atmosphere.  The disaster was found to have been caused by a collision, with a piece of debris that had broken loose when the shuttle had blasted off 16 days earlier.

The disaster prompted NASA to commission a report which was carried out by the Columbia Accident Investigation Board.  The CAIB’s report found that there had been failings both from a technical point of view, as well as organizational failings.  One of the many failings was with the position of Shuttle Program Manager, who’s primary directives were to achieve safe, timely launches with acceptable costs.  These three directives are clearly conflicting and as such meant that regardless of the individual making the decisions within this role, they were unlikely to succeed in all of the directives they were tasked with achieving.

The CAIB report is very long and there are many failings that it highlights, but in my opinion it neglects to point out the major failing that I see with the accident.  By the time the Columbia had achieved its orbit, NASA were already aware of the damage that had occurred during blast off.  They looked at two contingency plans, a rescue mission by another shuttle, and a space walk by someone on board to repair the damage.  The space walk was deemed to be dangerous, but possible.  The rescue mission was deemed to be the better option, as there was already a shuttle that had been prepared to launch relatively shortly after the Columbia mission, and there would be a 5 day overlap where a rescue was possible.  Both options were not ideal, but they were there.

In what I consider a stunning piece of mismanagement the decision was bizarrely taken to do nothing, and simply allow the shuttle to attempt re-entry. This had fatal consequences when the shuttle broke up over Texas killing all 7 crew members on board. Whatever the reason for the accident, there was bad management in that regardless of how dangerous the two contingency options were, they would have given the crew a fighting chance of survival.  By doing nothing the people managing this project may as well have just killed the crew themselves, as a re-entry with damaged heat shielding for the craft was always going to end as it did, in disaster.

Karl Jazwinski

The CAIB report in full:

http://www.caib.us/

An interesting link about how poor PowerPoint Presentations may also have contributed to the crash:

http://www.edwardtufte.com/bboard/q-and-a-fetch-msg?msg_id=0000Rs&topic_id=1&topic=Ask%20E%2eT%2e

My first post!!

This has been a hot topic throughout the footballing world and financal world. The Glazer family bought Manchester United in 2005 for around $1.5billion (£800million). Since then there has been speculation of the clubs financial health and sustainability.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/football/article-1243042/Manchester-United-finance-shock-Have-Glazers-Red-Devils-road-meltdown.html

Tom McParland.

Games.

Heroes of Newerth. It is a DotA-based online game, still in beta-testing, but really well thought-out and with bright future ahead of it. The developers are deeply involved with and listening to the opinions of their players, reading feedback regularly on their forums and taking it on board, changing their game as need be.

World of Warcraft. An addicting MMORPG.

FIFA. A football simulator published by EA.