I am providing fractional leadership on a capacity expansion project. What are the key deliverables in the initial workplan?
The project is likely to have a 12 to 18 month timeline. Therefore, it is essential to build a solid foundation with basic project management tools: a project plan, a Gantt chart, and a punch list. For a capacity expansion project, there are a few additional early deliverables.
A project blueprint to fully define what must be accomplished is an absolute requirement. What are the must haves and nice to haves? What are the strategic considerations? Who is on the project team? What are the success metrics? What are the volume and mix forecasts? When must the added capacity come on-stream? What is the investment budget?
I like to outline my project plans in Word. Outlines are fast. 🙂
Current State Analysis
In addition to adding capacity, it would be a great thing to improve operationally. A current state analysis will find waste reduction opportunities that can be incorporated into the capacity expansion. The two primary analysis tools are process maps and spaghetti diagrams.
Future demand is uncertain. How do machine and labor hours scale across volume and product mix scenarios? What is the best location for the production constraint?
These clearly are very important questions. Building a capacity model is another essential step towards a robust capacity plan…and a successful capacity expansion. Now before the first shovel is in the ground is the time to properly size machines and strategically locate the production constraint.
Blue Sky Plant Layout
What does the ideal plant look like? It is far too early for a detailed CAD drawing but not too soon to be thinking about orientation and location of major plant elements: receiving, production departments, maintenance, shipping, etc. If there are “monuments” that must be worked around, now is a great time to know.
The blue sky plant layout should be covered in notes. What are the assumptions behind this “ideal” plant? Use it to capture process improvement and automation opportunities and any other operational changes to reduce incremental headcount.
Resource / Skills Gaps
As the scope of the capacity expansion begins to come into focus, assess skills and resources. What gaps need to be filled?
Most likely there will be a need for fractional leadership to manage the capacity expansion work bubble. If there is new technology in the blue sky plant layout, it will take time to get the organization ready for it.
Milestones and Deliverables
Big projects benefit from careful design. Pull decisions and “risky” tasks (anything requiring an invention, regulatory approvals, etc) as far forward as possible. Establish milestone reviews with defined deliverables to keep things moving forward. Ideally, the second half of the project will be all about execution.
A Gantt chart is a picture of the project. What are the key events? What independent activities can be done in parallel? What dependent activities must be done in sequence? When are key events due?
Right from the start of the initial workplan, there will be a growing list of assignments across the organization. A punch list captures assignments, due dates, and outcomes.
In total, these initial actions will deliver a solid project plan and will prevent many headaches going forward. For more on the basic project management tools (including how to build a Gantt chart and set up a punch list), click HERE.
Managing projects, big and small, is a big part of my day job as a Professional Engineer. Visit my Project Management page for methods and case studies.