Initiating a Project Management Program for the Liberty Township Fire Department
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Printed Name: _________________________________________
Proper approach to management of projects in most townships of Delaware County has been a major challenge.
This has been most serious in most fire departments of these townships. There is an urgent need to a program that is customized to address the project management needs of the Liberty Township fire department.
Purpose of this research is to get information on how to improve the internal operations of the fire department of Liberty Township. New management policies are expected. The paper shall attempt to why the major challenge in management of most projects in the fire department of Liberty Township, what needs to be done, when did it begin and when can it be reversed.
The research paper was written on information collected from secondary sources. Great care was taken while identifying and selecting the kind of source. Ideas borrowed from other authors were carefully synthesized and paraphrased to avoid plagiarism. The necessary credits were given.
Major challenges in the fire department were historical. Mr. Reeves, who was the first chief of this department, was of good intent, with good organizing skills but lacked the necessary knowledge.
Most government departments faced acute project management problems in the past. Their private sector counterparts have continuously exhibited competence in this field. Senior management should carefully evaluate the content of the paper and try to apply the information contained herein.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
TABLE OF CONTENTS…………………………………………………………………4
Statement of the Problem…………………………………………………………………5
Purpose of the Study………………………………………………………………………5
BACKGROUND AND SIGNIFICANCE………………………………………………..8
Definition of Terms………………………………………………………………………41
Limitations of the Study…………………………………………………………………41
Statement of the Problem
Proper approach to management of projects in most townships of Delaware County has been a major challenge. This has been most serious in most fire departments of these townships. The problem this study will investigate is what has been the historical cause of inefficiency in management of projects and programs in the fire department of Liberty Township. This paper shall also address the issue of lack of a proper program for use as a guide in the various projects. There are resources for projects but critical management skills are missing. To reach and remain in the leading edge in fire protection services in the region, the department has to change its management approach to a more efficient one. There is an urgent need of developing a program that is customized to address the project management needs of the Liberty Township fire department. The other fire departments in other townships can learn from Liberty once the recommendations made in this paper work for Liberty.
Purpose of the Study
Carrying out research work on the applicability of a new program has been done with a number of purposes. The purposes range from seeking to get information on how to improve the internal operations of the fire department of Liberty Township to how the research work can be utilized by other fire departments and fire stations as well as any other business organization that may wish to have a systematic approach of project management. First, the research results shall be directly used by the fire department of Liberty Township in effective management of its business operations. The top management of the department requires this kind of information because it is directly involved in making the key management decisions of the department. If they like the information and issue directives on immediate implementation of the recommendations, rapid positive change shall be expected. It is also expected that the findings of this research may be most likely implemented as a new program. This new program is expected to bring better results both in service delivery and efficiency in the management of the institution. New management policies are also expected to be formulated on the basis of the research findings of this paper. The current policies may also require the necessary amendment if the institution is determined to achieve excellent performance compared to its previous years. It is also expected that the results of this research shall be sent as a report to the administrators of the department who may treasure very much as a basis for making critical decisions. It will assist the fire department’s administration and its workforce in having a common ground regarding how future projects will be introduced, evaluated, and finally completed. This template will give the employee the basic idea on how the department will use their creativity and how it will be taken from an idea to an innovation of community service. Read the answer on the question which of the following groups is eligible to receive casualty assistance
This research paper shall include information that will attempt to answer a number of critical questions as outlined below.
a. Why has there been a major challenge in management of most projects in the fire department of Liberty Township.
b. What needs to be done to bring improvement of understanding of project management fundamentals among the officers and other staff in the fire department if liberty township?
c.What is the genesis of this whole problem?
d. When did it begin and when can it be reversed given the current situation and conditions in the department?
e. How readily can the new ideas proposed in this paper be accepted by the chief officers in the fire department?
f. How shall other entities such as the Delaware County officers react to the results of this paper? Shall they support or shall they be hindrance?
BACKGROUND AND SIGNIFICANCE
The fire department of the Liberty Township is one of the most important and critical departments in this institution. This department has been entrusted by the businessmen and companies as well as homes operating within its area of jurisdiction for the protection of their property against one of the most disastrous and yet preventable hazards, fire. As a result of the negative effects of fire, most property has been lost- property for both civilians and state property. Through a combined effort of the Township authority and private sector, it was felt and agreed that it is necessary to establish a department that would address the risks that face the residents and investors in Liberty Township. This was effected through the establishment of the fire department. It appears that the need to have such a department was so serious and the ideas was readily accepted and speedily implemented such that critical procedures were assumed with regard to how the affairs and operations of the department were going to be run. This forms the background of the improper operations management program in the department. It has been realized that there is a serious need for development of a program that will assist the management and workers of this fire department to run the department’s affairs and operations accountably and effectively.
Lack of a program for managing and ensuring effective running of the operations of the fire department, the project, or even other sub-projects within the department is a real problem because in the currently world with the current level of information and communication, there is a need of supplying correct and logical information about the progress of projects of any department of a government agency. The research study is justifiable by the impact it will bring to this department and other fire departments of the various municipalities and townships across the United States of America, and across the world. It is also true to state that there are hundreds of municipalities and townships coming up al over the world. It is believed that once this research paper is published on the World Wide Web, it shall provide lessons to fire departments of those townships being established. They shall be in a position to avoid the mistakes done by the Liberty Township Council and its fire department. The program which shall be discussed in this paper will definitely lead to smooth running of the department’s projects and increased accountability. Most people who have depended on the services of this department shall now be in a position to get better services when this program is implemented.
The average number of people who directly depend on the Fire Department of Liberty Township for emergency medical services, fire fighting and prevention services and also for rescue services whenever disasters strike is approximately thirty five thousand residents according to the national census report published in 2008. These people include the residents of Powell in Ohio State which supports about 11,494 people according to the same census report. The various activities of this department require employment of people with training in respective fields of specialization. Currently, there are 51 paramedic fire fighters who have been trained to give first aid assistance to people affected by fire disasters before they reach equipped hospitals for specialized medical attention. There additional 10 firefighters who are part-timers. It is interesting to note that about 72% of all the calls received through the help lines are cases related to and requiring emergency medical services. This means the development and implementation of this project management program shall bring great and efficient service delivery to clients especially those in need of the emergency medical attention.
Introduction to the fire department of the Liberty Township
In the recent past, there has been a lot of commercial development in the Liberty Township, thus resulting to numerous activities. The fire department of this township is located in the Butler County, Ohio and it is run by several personnel who either work fulltime or work part-time job upon a call from this department. It is important to note that this department has received ISO rating of 6. This means that, despite lack of proper method of managing a project, it has tried to use its own means of attaining excellence or at least performing better that most of its competitors in service delivery. It is also safe to mention at this stage that once a proper program for project management is initiated for this department, then its ISO certification in the near future can be the best because of the improved means of service delivery and accountability as well as more convenience brought to the clients and consumers of the services provided by this department.
The area that receives services from this fire department is approximately thirty six squire miles in size and the residents expect three key services namely emergency medical services, fire services and rescue services. Through the adoption of the proposed program for project management, it is believed that the department is significantly going to improve its work while delivering services in all of these three key areas of specialization.
In its headquarter offices located at Princeton- Glendale Road, there are several fire department offices for the top administrators and about 2000 Sutphen rescue engines are located here. Other facilities at the yard of the offices or available for the department at this head office include 2004 110’ Aerial towers, a unit package for medical response, An ambulance and one of the several EMA’s Mass casualty trailer owned by the Butler County. This whole set of facility measures 13,500 squire feet and is staffed all round the clock with trained paramedics who are also very competent and confident in fire fighting skills. The point of explaining this set up is to bring the picture of the capital possession this department has. The availability of the equipment with which an organization uses to do its works means incase there is a limitation, it is coming from elsewhere. This is the case in the fire department of Liberty Township. The department has much of the required capital base for effective duty execution. This is also an indication that once the project management program is adopted into the department, then the department will not have capital base limitation. *It has expanded to establish up to three rescue stations. One is located at the 5867 Princeton- Glendale road in liberty township, another is located at 6957 Yankee road also in the Liberty township and finally the third is located along the 6682 Princeton –Glendale road also in Liberty township in Ohio. This is an indication that the department has tried to manage its projects and the introduction of an effective project management program in this fire department is likely to lead to even more expansion to other areas of the township to dominate the service industry. This will lead to satisfaction of all its clients and residents and the staff shall also enjoy the systematic approach executing their duties.
Brief History of the Department
A brief review of the fire department has been felt worth. This history brings an overview of how the department started and used to operate in the beginning. It happened in the late 1940’s that the three people namely Edwin Jackson, Schmehl Henry and B. Marquette were the trustees of this Liberty Township. These trustees decided to enter in to a pact with their counterparts in Delaware, Berlin, Brown, Troy and also the northern part of the Liberty Township then known as Liberty B. This pact was aimed at forming a fire protection institution that was named as the Stratford Fire department, sometimes known as the Five Township fire department. This move left the lower part of Liberty township which was then known as Liberty A isolated from the pact and in real need of fire protection services. At this time, the Liberty A handled its fire cases through assistance of a bucket brigade from the fire department of Dublin. However, this service was not sustainable for most service users because the minimum cost per run was 50 US dollars. Another key thing noted at this time was that there was a lot of wildfires mostly consuming grass and brush. This was caused mainly by lack of restrictions on the burning of trash at home and also from trains.
In 1948, this half township received a $ 20,000 worth of bond to buy its first fire truck and construct its house. After ordering for the fire engine, the trustees placed a one Mr. Reeves as the chief fire officer of the fire department. It is also interesting to note that this appointment was not because this officer was competent. He also did not have any relevant training in fire protection issues. The reason given by the board of trustees for this appointment was that Mr. Reeves had good organizing skills. Although the possession of the ability and skills to organize events in any event or business operation is an admirable idea, the case of fire protection is a little bit different. First, the skills on duty organizations are a real asset in this field. However, it is almost impossible to organize events that a person does not understand well. This is what happened to the fire department of Liberty Township. The first chief officer lacked essential information necessary in executing his duties in his capacity.
Under the leadership of Mr. Reeves, the old filling station and garage which were formerly on the North Liberty Street were purchased. These two facilities were remodeled so that they could serve more effectively.
There was an oversight in the new endeavor. First, no money had been allocated for the purpose of maintaining the fire department when the bond issue was passed in the beginning. This was a serious mistake and it shows how lack of a project management program can cause deadly mistakes at the beginning of a project. But Mr. Reeves had the necessary skills to organize and sooner than later, he organized several functions to raise funds for running this department. An Association for fire fighters in the liberty township was formed. Through this association, it was possible to motivate several community young men and others from college to volunteer in the fire protection service. Sadly, the amount a person could get for volunteering in the department for one full calendar year was as little as 1 US dollar. Other crude methods of raising funds for the department included dances by association members to raise money, holding euchre parties, and offering special suppers such as spaghetti suppers. The money collected from these events was dedicated to purchasing of gasoline, paying of electricity bills, heating expenses and paying for the telephone bills as well as other miscellaneous expenses incurred during the running of the department’s affairs.
As the fire truck and fire house were being prepared, Mr. Reeves was busy sighing up thirty five men as members of the new charter of the fire department in Liberty A as a way of ‘organizing’ his department. He also organized for a thirty six- hour training session on fire fighting and paramedic for all the volunteers. After the equipment were ready for use, Mr. reeves and other key administrators from the department went for two days training at Lancing training centre in Michigan. The course was about instructions on how to use the fire truck and equipment. It is interesting to note that lessons on how to use the equipment was given to officers who were going to spend much of their time in office. This is one issue that might have led to the problems in the operations of the department. The fire men who had been trained on the skills of firefighting had been excluded from a training session that would enlighten them on how to use the equipment for fire fighting. What was the use of training administrators who would rarely be involved in the actual process of fire fighting and protection? How would the firemen use the equipment effectively when they did not understand well? This could be the genesis of the issue of ineffective fire program management as it was experienced in the fire department of the Liberty Township of Ohio state.
When the Ohio State auditors reached the township during their periodic auditing exercises, they established for the first time that no levy had been assigned to finance the fire department. When the auditors herd the story of this fire department and how they raised funds for running it, they recommended that the township had to pass as levy that would be used to cater for the operating costs. The fund raised from this levy was also to be used for refunding all the amounts that had hitherto paid to the firemen and fire association. It was also recommended that all volunteers from then would be paid on hourly wage in times they were involved in fighting fire or were in action. From the money obtained, the fire department purchased emergency equipment that could be used by emergency squad. They also purchased a second hand ambulance, fixed red-lights, a siren and a radio. They also fitted this ambulance with the necessary first aid kits and equipment. Soon after, the firemen went for first aid training course and this led to the establishment of first emergency squad in the whole of the Delaware County. An Inhalator- Resuscitator for this department was donated by the Dennison Engineering Company which was located at Liberty Township. This equipment was to be used on heart cased victims and for victims who had been rescued from drowning. This was a big boost to the emergency response unit of this department. There is a point in this statement because operating a resuscitator requires one to have technical training on how to use it and a clear understanding of the medical condition for which it is applied. Literature review shows that no specialized training was conducted to familiarize the fire crew and emergency unit workers with the use of this special equipment. As mentioned elsewhere in this paper, the occurrence of wildfires mostly in the form of grass-fires was very rampant in Delaware and specifically in Liberty Township and its suburbs because of careless burning of trash and brush. To address this hazard, the now expanded department extended its functions to fighting and preventing the occurrence of these fires by purchasing a tank truck that could hold up to five hundred gallons of water.
In 1952, the now well acquainted firemen from Liberty Township fire department persuaded the rest of fire departments in the Delaware County to form a fire association for the county. The first meeting to address this issue was held in Powell. This idea was supported by majority of the Counties’ fire departments and as a result, the Delaware County Firefighters Association was founded. This history clearly indicates that up to his point, the provision of fire services in Liberty is one successful story.
However, a big blow came barely 5 years later when the 5 townships forming the Delaware fire fighters association broke. During this time, both Liberty A and Liberty B merged to form a full Liberty Township fire department. During the break of the five township association of firefighters, money was divided among the trustees of each township. The Liberty’s share was used to expand the firehouse at Powell so that it could accommodate more equipment. This meant more efficiency in service delivery in the new full Liberty Township and its environs. Another second hand ambulance and a little bit more updated equipment was purchased for this department in 1957. To add on the first aid training the firemen had received, another 90 hour squad training courses were planned for these firemen. This kind of training was about in-hospital training and life support skills. By the year 1980, the department had one fully employed and trained paramedic and 7 other squad men who had received various trainings including IV procedures. This paramedic was much treasured by the department because they did not have to incur much expense for sending their staff to training centers where they would just obtain the same skills as when trained by the paramedic from the department.
Later in 1964, the township trustees purchased another larger fire truck which was equipped with high pressure pumps and volume pumps and a larger tank that could hold up to 1000 gallons of water. This endeavor was a bit expensive but at this time, the department was essentially well off economically. Over the years, several changes have occurred in the department. As in most other departments and offices, officers have quit, others promoted, others appointed after undergoing the prescribed courses and things of that sort.
Mr. Reeves retired in 1973 after 24 years as the chief of this department and was succeeded by his deputy who had also served as assistant chief for 24 years.
Developing a program for Project Management
Project management is a discipline that involves the ability of a person or a group of people to do planning, to organize business operations and mange the available resources in such a way that they attain a successful completion of their pre-set goals and objectives of their projects. Essentially, a project is a definite undertaking because it has a specified beginning and a pre-determined time of completion. A project is done within a specified time frame. In the context of the Liberty Township’s fire department, project may be used to refer to activities done in the department to expand its operations and capital base. Such things like the need to buy new fire trucks, water tanks, new land to put-on new offices, and purchase of new emergency medical service equipment among others may be termed to as projects within the fire department.
Upon successful completion of a project, the expectation is a beneficial change or added value. Program Evaluation and Review Technique (PERT) is usually applied to a project to ensure that the processes and operations of the project are permanent or at least sustainable so that it may repetitively produce similar product or service (Nicholson, 2004). The chief challenge of managing a project is in how to achieve every goal and objective of the project while adhering to the classical constraints of the project which are basically the scope, time, quality and the budget. Other challenges may include how to optimally allocate and integrate the necessary inputs required to meet all the objectives of the endeavor. Implementing a project requires execution of activities that use various resources such as money, human resource, materials, power or energy, space, motivation, provisions and communication in order to realize all the goals and objectives of the project.
Initiating a Project Management Process for the Fire Department of Liberty Township, Delaware
Introduction to the process
In order to initiate a program for managing projects in this department, the requirement is to set up the project from inception or idea, then ensure that the project desired is right and can be accommodated within the legal mandate of the department’s duties. The project chosen should be most relevant to the current challenges facing the department. The may range from how new fire engines shall be purchased, how the current fire fighting capacity of the firemen and fire trucks can expanded or how the department shall decentralize its operations to ensure even coverage in its area of operation. The project selected should also have the issue of time considered. It should be set such that the available time shall allow for completion of the project. Finally, the desired or the selected project should be in support of the department’s goals and objectives.
While initiating a program for managing the process of a program, it is very important to check with all the directly involved stakeholders and confirm whether they are all in agreement on all the steps that are to be involved in the initiating process before an attempt to proceed to the planning stage of the project. It can be heart breaking to initiate a process of managing a project for the fire department only to realize that some stakeholders have a negative attitude towards the project. This becomes worse when financial resources had been invested in the early stages of planning and implementation.
Through research, it has been shown that project failure mostly comes as a result of skipping the project initiating process or some of its steps. This research paper warns the fire department of Liberty Township on the dangers of initiating a project management program then fails to complete all the fundamental steps of the process. The common mistake that this department should try to avoid is over emphasizing on the timeliness and ‘on budget’ objectives and failing to give equal emphasis on other emphasis on other important objectives that may not become apparent immediately. For the case of this fire department, the initiation process can not be assumed because it is at this stage that the viability of the proposed projects is determined logically. Towards the end of this initial process, the management of this department with assistance from project management experts should be in a position to confidently decide whether to go on with the project or simple to terminate the idea. They should be able to establish whether it is possible to make a sustainable commitment to the resources necessary to make the project proceed.
For the purpose of presenting this research information, project management program initiation shall be presented in sequence. However, it should be noted that the process steps are actually interactive and the department is advised to interactively implement them when time for application comes. The department also shall have to go back through the various steps of this process many times until the actual projects have been defined or fully defined.
Agreement is important
As it has been mentioned elsewhere in this paper, there are high chances of failure of projects in this fire department if all key stakeholders such as the local people, the owners of industries, the administrators, other government agencies impacted, local influential people and non governmental organizations which share common vision with the department in seeking to improve the welfare of the Liberty society. Documentation of all contagious issues at this stage should be made. The level of agreement on these issues might be how the project shall be carried out despite some residual and seemingly insignificant disagreements about particular issues (Williams, Higgins, Furbee &Prescott, 1997).
Project Purpose and Justification
To avoid great risks, the fire department should take time and formulate sound purposes of the projects it may need to run. This does not end at mentioning of the sound purpose but goes ahead to justify the importance of the project. The department should validate the project before development proceeds. The sponsor of the projects who is usually the county council of Delaware should be fully convinced and made to have an insight of the current pressing need. The justification should include how the project is in line with the strategic plans of the Township. It should show the rationale of giving priority to this particular project in relation to other projects of the Township that may be competing for the limited financial resources. This will indicate the level of importance of this project to the community and the department and it is likely to get funded. Since the Delaware County finances most of the projects in all the Townships under its jurisdiction, this kind of justification is most likely to make the projects for Liberty Township to be given priority compared to other projects from other townships.
As a requirement, the department should have a way of escalation if risks are triggered in relation to the project. This includes having a provision of who shall mange the organizational issues whenever they arise within the institution so as to ensure that the project meets its key priorities namely the timeliness and operation within a strict budget (NFPA, 2001). The department is also advised to consider any decisions that have already been made or any work that has already been done in relation to any of the new projects it would wish to begin or any older project it would wish to improve. Most important to note is that the benefits of the project should always be kept in mind even when monstrous challenges appear to confront the project.
Stakeholder – Needs Analysis
A research should be done by the fire department in collaboration with other interested parties to determine the exact key stakeholders who are associated with the project. The research should also address the needs of each of these key stakeholders. This initiation process should not end without an agreement about the real requirements of each project. If all relevant stakeholders are not identified at the initial stages of setting the program, this may prove to be a major barrier to the success of the projects. For thorough identification of the stakeholders, the officers of this fire department should identify all the people who the projects shall be done for, all people and organizations that will be directly or indirectly affected, what every category of stakeholder wants or expects from the projects and what their actual needs are.
Basically, there are different kinds of stake holders for each kind of project that the fire department has already established, is establishing or has a plan to establish. The first kind is stakeholders known as primary or key stakeholders. They can either be interested in what the project shall bring forth in form of outcomes or they may cause problems during the initiating, planning, implementation or evaluation stage of the project (NFPA, 2001).
For instance, in a possible project of starting a new fire station at the industrial or business centre of Liberty Township, the key decision makers and therefore the stakeholders shall be the owners of industries in the first case and the real estate investors in the second case. These groups of people shall attract priority in having their expectations and fire protection needs met and the fire department of Liberty Township should be aware of all possible unstated agendas of all these groups. The clients of the fire protection services and emergency response services are also part of the stakeholders and their needs should be understood from the word go.
As in the case of other projects in other organizations, the stakeholders may sometimes have conflicts of interests. This is usual in project management and the conflicting needs should be resolved before the project goes on. The major purpose why stakeholder analysis is necessary during the setting of a program for project management in this fire department is that there is a great need to separate the stakeholders’ needs from their wants. In order to safely do this task, one must carefully identify the activities by the stakeholders that will make the projects successful for the department.
A project management process should have a clear and accurate method of documentation of all its activities. The needs of the stakeholders should be fully put in to documentation. The major reason for this act is to avoid ambiguity and also to facilitate a meaningful agreement. Through documentation, the approval of the key stakeholders’ agreement to their stated needs can be obtained because they shall have to sign in the documents. This is a safeguard for the project incase the stakeholders have hidden personal goals because if they attempt to do so in future, the records with their appended signatures shall be evidence of what they vowed to be committed to. Through this kind of documentation, the people who are assigned the duties of the project management should ensure that the stated needs of the stakeholders are managed in the whole lifespan of the projects. In projects that are long lasting in nature, the mangers shall have to find ways of ensuring that the stakeholders’ needs are sustainably met all the time (Williams, Higgins, Furbee &Prescott, 1997). During the project lifespan, the department should expect new stakeholders and should make a provision of how to handle them.
At the early stages of a project, the fire department and its officers should be aware of all possible risks. This should start when the department is doing stakeholders’ needs analysis specifically when listing all potential risks that any specified stakeholder may bring to the projects. This section is elaborated extensively elsewhere in this paper.
Project User Requirements
Another thing the department ha to do is to define and document all the user requirements. This must be confirmed and approved before any of the projects can proceed. This can be accomplished in a simple procedure. It should start by separating the needs from the wants, then a grouping exercise where all needs that are similar are grouped together, identification of any conflicting needs among the stakeholders and finally attempting to negotiate agreement between the various stakeholders with conflicting needs.
To effectively carry out this process, a number of meetings with the various stakeholders should be held. In cases where the fire department shall be initiating larger projects, doing value management may assist in reaching at optimal agreed needs through joint facilitated process. The agreed needs should be expressed in measurable terms. Usually, stakeholders express their needs in terms of the product expected from a certain project or in terms of solution to the problem which has led to the need for establishment of the project initially. The agreed terms should be clearly re-stated here to depict what the end products or product of the desired project or program should do. When the agreed needs are stated in measurable functional terms, the manager of the project become elevated to a position in which he or she can offer a range of solutions to the client or stakeholder. The officers in this department should ensure that the project outcomes are not restricted to solutions presented by the stakeholders in the early stages of the project analysis process because this can lead to overlooking of important alternative options. The set of agreement that can now be called final should be documented and all key stakeholders should be compelled to sign off the document.
The project objectives that have been agreed on can be established fro m the agreed project user requirements document. These objectives are normally stated in temporal, cost and quality or functionality terms since the mangers of the projects are constantly balancing schedule (time), budget (cost) and quality in relation to the defined scope of the project. The only one universally common objective that is related to temporal aspect of the project is the time for project completion. The Liberty Township fire department should ensure that it has set realistic time for the completion of all the projects it is planning to launch. Obviously, each project should have its own time of completion because this varies with the different requirements for each. Projects that are larger or those which demand huge capital investment for completion tend to take long time to get completed while smaller and cheaper projects are usually completed within a short time frame. To install dry fire extinguishing equipment in various industries can be a simple project that take considerably little time while building of a unique fire engine may take up to one year because it shall involve a lot of technical activities such as designing, building and testing before it is finally handed to the fire department. Incases where financial resource is a challenge, the time of completion of a certain project may be extended threefold. The issue of ‘white elephants’ may arise incase where the project involved setting up of buildings as in the case of administration block construction project for a new fire station.
On the other hand, one key objective that is related to cost remains common in all projects and must appear in the project management program of the fire department in Liberty Township of Delaware County (NFPA, 2001). This objective is one agreed budget objective. This objective usually outlines how financial resources should be conservatively used as allocated, total absence of extravagance behavior and abiding by the budget. However, there should be a provision for contingency to cater for unforeseen but possible circumstances such as inflation of product prices or increase in transport costs than it had been planned.
Research has also shown that most projects have several common objectives in relation to quality or functionality. For instance, if a certain project in the fire department involved implementation of new fire safety procedures for a number of manufacturing industries or a newly set business centre, the quality objectives may include installation of equipment that meet all the prescribed standards by the relevant authority and those which have already been tested and confirmed to comply, training all the firemen and the department’s staff and the effectiveness of this training tested with standardized testing, installation of user instructions next to the respective equipment as required by the law and other objectives of this sort. These three objectives have been used to make a universally accepted model known as Time, Cost Quality triangle.
The objectives of each project should be aligned with the purpose of each project as stated in the earlier stages of project initiation. Possibly, some variations may arise or deviations may occur from the initial purpose during the time for discussing and developing the user needs. Any such change in direction should be verified with the sponsor of the project, put in documentation and accepted by all impacted stakeholders.
The objectives of the project ultimately provide a basis for measuring how the department’s projects shall be judged. The objectives of the final projects should be put down in writing. After the department has carefully defined all the measurable objectives, the department should take a step higher by exploring a broad range of options for the delivery of projects. At this point, the officers and key decision makers may have to work through a, array of options or various approaches to determine what the end product of the project is likely to be and who shall deliver the projects. This is a question of who will take the project to those possible ends. The number of alternative options that can be available for each project shall be determined by the decisions that have already been made by others about the project. For instance, the department may have pre-existing agreements with suppliers which may hinder the freedom to select the kind of equipment which is most suitable for use in the projects. There might also be a limited number of suppliers for certain goods. By having a restricted budget, the possibility of using outside contractors may become narrower.
In some project cases, it is likely to have a range of options that will cater for the needs of both the stakeholders and the project end-users. Effective exploration of possible options depends on the objectives being stated in measurable terms, functionally as opposed to those stated as solutions to the problem that appear to prevail. For instance, considering the needs of the end-users the final solution to what will most satisfactorily address the objective of ‘ensuring that regular updates and changes to sections of the fire department are communicated’ may necessitate the use of personal email messages, posting of posters in the workplace as well as regular staff information meetings. One option on its own might run the risk of not fitting the concerned staff, but instead reach only a proportion of this concerned staff.
Who is to deliver the projects is a question that addresses whether the various projects will be delivered by use of internally mobilized resources from within the department or by use of resources received from external sources or a combination of the two scenarios. The question also touches on the issue of from where those resources shall be drawn. This question may appear to be simple but it should be approached in a systematic way, step by step in order to obtain the best results. The first thing to do is to evaluate all the available potential sources of resources. This means to evaluate all potential individual people, organizations, charity organizations and government agencies and bodies who can offer the materials required wholly or a section or who can contribute in terms of money required for buying or even individuals who can volunteer to offer free labor source during the implementation of the projects.
The options or simply the available alternatives for who is to deliver the project should be evaluated critically against a number of issues. First, one should consider the objectives of the projects in relation to the time- cost- quality model of project objectives. It should also consider all the risks involved in the projects right from their initiation through implementation to monitoring and evaluation of the completed projects. Evaluation of the likely source of resources for the projects should also consider the extent to which the required scope of each project is addressed. Finally, this consideration should not assume the impact of the various options or alternatives to each kind of stakeholders. A source of resources that may undermine the role of one or more stakeholders in a given project should be discouraged and instead the best alternative should be taken. Important to note is that the whole process of evaluating the available and possible options shall be more or less formal depending on the nature of the project which is under consideration. Evaluation can be done by simple organization of a conference around a table from which an agreement shall be reached. There are projects which incur high risks in nature. In case of such kind of projects, the department should adopt a formal process of evaluation. It should go a step further by ensuring that the formal process is carefully put in to documentation and approved by senior management.
There is one key determinant of the choice of resource source that shall finally be settled at. It is in connection with the time and the cost at which these resources shall be made available for use in the project. The factor of time is applicable in the case where the resources shall come from a volunteer organization or volunteer individual. Sometimes, there may be free resources for development of the project but the time at which these resources shall actually be made available may be a source of delay for the project. How soon the resources shall be availed from such sources of assistance should be evaluated before considering them a reliable source of resource. Time and cost factors shall simultaneously be considered incases where the source of materials and other resources for implementing the various projects is from within the department or is donated by charity organizations in liquid form or is given to the fire department from the Delaware County. Care should be taken to select only high quality materials that are being sold at fair prices and those which meet the required standards. Time shall be of significance because on suppliers who are able to deliver the supplies for which they have been tendered in time shall be contacted. This step is important in ensuring there is no unnecessary delay in project implementation especially when the financial resources are readily available. There should be time allowance for ensuring that these factors and their possible influences are estimated. The variance of the estimated time and costs from the actual values shall greatly depend on the amount and accuracy of data and information that can be supplied to the suppliers of the required resources. At this stage in the projects’ processes, it may not be advisable to extensively invest resources in gathering of the required information for accurate consideration of time and costs. This may lead to a relatively lower level of accuracy of the estimates. However, the level of accuracy can be greatly improved as time pass by when the project advances towards the planning stage.
Many risks are engendered during the process of evaluation. Most of risks encountered are those associated with assessing the various estimates of time, cost and functionality. The fire department at Liberty Township should ensure that it minimizes all possible constraints that may raise the chances of risks. The department should also ensure it minimizes making assumptions which have also been proved to be key sources of risks. All perceived potential risks to any project should be identified and precisely recorded in the template containing the risks for each planned project.
Project Vision Statement and Project Proposal
The process of initiating a project as a whole is usually marked by the making of a project vision statement and drawing of the refined project proposal. At this stage, it is advisable for the fire department to have readily defined the project. This means the department MUST have reached an agreement with all its stakeholders about a number of issues. To the fire department and other readers of this paper, it may seem to be a repetition of the issue of stakeholders. However, experts in the field of formulating programs for project management strongly advise a re-check in to the work done so far to ensure it projects meet certain criteria. It should be made sure that there is no doubt about any of the project objectives in terms of time, cost and quality as discussed in the time-cost- quality model. The exact nature of the expected product of the project under scrutiny should also be established and an agreement reached on who is to deliver the project. These items are emphasized at this level because they shall not be revised at any other point and whether they are correct or just placed for the sake is determined either by success or failure of the project under study. This is why the department should not tire when taking more time to ensure they are as accurate or precise as possible.
Experts also recommend that it is safer to put down a short statement that clearly defines what the implemented project is designed to deliver. Conventionally, this statement should be brief, up to the point and should not exceed two sentences (USFA, 2002). Such a statement is technically known as the vision statement of the project. It is used to keep all the attention of the team involved in project planning implementation together with the concerned stakeholders on the purpose of the project. They play a critical role in the project at the time when most projects are likely to drift off-scope or change direction particularly during the entry of new stakeholders in the project. It also acts as a reminder to people who may have differing ideas or ideas that differ from those of the pioneers of the project.
A sample vision statement for the fire department of the Liberty Township in Delaware for a new project may be something like: To upgrade the newly acquired building to reach to the status of a modern fire office using an internal office manager and external contractors for works, by November 208, for a cost of $200,000. Upgrade to include replacement or repair of all damaged seats, office furniture, electrical appliances such as lighting and fresh painting of all walls both inside and outside.
In some cases, experts may recommend that budget or timeframe should not be assigned at this stage. The department at this stage when such a case happens should only state that the time and or budget frames are to be determined. These shall be determined in the planning stage of the project.
Most often, the process of defining a project usually result in the need for feasibility studies. These studies are conducted prior to approval of the project plan. From this stage, the feasibility study becomes the next level.
Having a detailed planning for a project requires increased level of commitment of resources. As a result, a logical approval has been put in place for a person or any other entity to decide as whether to ‘GO or NO GO’ at the end of the initiation phase safely before the planning phase begin.
Basically, the fire department should be prepared for three activities during planning of its projects. These activities are basically in relation to determination of scope of various project activities, allocation of temporal and financial resources as well as allocation of other tangible resources. It is essential to note that all these activities are related to the concept of risk planning. In addition to these major activities, other set of activities facilitate the implementation of the project. Such activities are associated with issues of quality, organization of the project, communication and procurement.
Planning the Project Scope
At the level of planning of the scope of the project, it is advisable for the department to concentrate on the major deliverables and avoid much detail. This should be approached by outlining what is in scope and what is out of scope. During this process, it may be difficult to solve issues to the agreement of all key impacted people in a single meeting.
Defining the scope
When defining the scope of each project, the department should provide detailed information and if possible put it in a scope definition document. This detailed information gives a basis for making estimates on costs, time and resources as well as providing a basis for measuring performance and responsibilities. Officers in this department should ensure that all the details in the scope are presented in point form. It should develop through a heated brainstorming by the project management team and the stakeholders preferably by use of tools such as ‘sticky’ notes on the wall and work break down structure. All activities and tasks needed to deliver the project. It involves breaking the project in to provisional deliverables and the activities that must be done to deliver each.
Management of time for the fire department’s projects should approach in consideration of four aspects. The first is estimating duration of each activity. Determining how long each activity is likely to take is essential because the information obtained can be used to develop a sequence of schedule. Any risk that can be associated with the estimated durations should be estimated. Proper consideration of the time factor considers a number of factors. These include any available part time for doing activities in this project, possibility of losing time doing non- project activities, time management skills of those who shall be doing the activities, what shall be given priority incase time is limited and finally, one should consider the time to be taken before staff with special skills are actually available. The officers should also determine a workable sequence of activities and the critical path which denotes the total of possible durations is greatest. Though the same means, it is possible to know the shortest time when the project can be expected to complete (Sewald, 1999).
The costs likely to be met in execution of any project are mainly in payment of human effort involved, purchase of goods and services and the total amount as reflected in the final budget. With every possibly cost estimated, the office shall find it a bit simpler to determine the overall budget. At this point, one should be able to realize the importance of precision and accuracy in while developing the work breakdown structure because the accuracy of the overall project budget directly depends on the accuracy of this structure. In case the officers face challenges in estimating the project cost, it is advisable to break the various items of the project in to sub-tasks until they reach a stage which they are confident to assign the amount of effort together with reasonable cost of non-human resources.
Every project has a certain degree of uncertainty and these should be noted in the earlier stages of project set up. Risks should be noted put in a list and then ranked on the basis of probability, impact once they occur and responses. Effort should be made to avoid risks altogether. In situations where risks have already been experienced, effort should be directed toward mitigation measures. The most important thing about risks is that one they strike, one must first accept their existence and their status in terms of whether there are alternatives, its likelihood and the possible impact. Possible risks should be contacted out and there should be contingency measure incase the risk is triggered. Although it may be a risky endeavor, risks that are most likely to happen should be transferred or taken care of by taking the necessary insurance (Thonsett, 2002).
Determining the quality of a project is subjective to the opinion of all stakeholders. Quality aspects that are most important to majority of the stakeholder should be identified. The management of this department should link the quality of outcomes that are to be obtained from the project to the processes introduced to ensure quality of the project (NFPA, 2002).
Project organizational planning
This can be attained by preparing organizational diagrams that shows the relationship of people and project structures that have influence on the project. It should be noted that the success of the projects for the fire department shall depend largely on well the administrative relationships are managed. It is therefore advisable for this department to develop very standard organizational diagram. The chart should clearly depict the roles and responsibilities of each officer at all levels. Inclusion of a steering committee is highly recommended (McEwen &Miller, n.d).
Research shows that communication planning is the least adequately planned aspect of a project, yet it is it has been established to be the most important requirement for a project to be successful. A very useful tool in planning for communication is reporting. Each stage and status should be reported effectively and in time. Stakeholders for each project should be informed accordingly. Those put in charge of communication should try to avoid the common mistakes that are made in the process. These mistakes include lack of verification, one –way communication, inaccurate information among others (CFFD, 1999).
The process of implementing a project should include planning for the process, management of the team behind the project, careful management of all relevant stakeholders, ability to appreciate deviation from the planned program and managing the change accordingly, reporting of the projects success and failures in professional way, proper keeping of all records pertaining the project among other activities (Norris, 1993).
Basically, this research paper was written on information and data collected purely from secondary sources. No primary data was collected from the field using either of the various data collection techniques and methodologies such as questionnaires, measuring tools or interviews. Most sources available for secondary data collection have been written by people of differing credibility. During the collection of the data and information used in this research paper, great care was taken while identifying and selecting the kind of source. There are authoritative publications both in print libraries and online. Most of the sources for literature review were scholarly articles, magazines, project management journals, publications about the Liberty Township as a whole and mostly those addressing the business issues of the fire department. While reviewing the data and information, care was taken to ensure only the relevant information was picked. Such information included how the department was currently running its affairs, herein referred to as the department’s business or projects, and how other related institutions were successfully applying the processes of project management. Finally, ideas borrowed from other authors were carefully synthesized and paraphrased to avoid plagiarism. The necessary credits were given to the authors of the various works used through both in-text citation and in the bibliography section.
Definition of Terms
Project management- This is a discipline that involves a systematic approach of planning and guiding the processes of a project right from its initial stages until its end.
Project cycle- is a term used to refer to the process that is comprised of different kinds of activities that are done at different stages during the process of executing a project.
Stakeholders- used to refer to a group of human society that may favorably or unfavorably influence the success of a given project.
Project stakeholder- refer to a person who is impacted through gaining or losing something such as functionality, revenue source, status or social freedom as a result of an established project. Sustainability- is a tern that is generally used to denote the capacity to keep a certain state or process in the long run or indefinitely.
Sponsor: is a person who pays the bills or authorizes the expenditure of financial resources.
End- users- is a term used in project management to denote those people who shall utilize the products of the projects.
Project champion: is the person who paves the way and has to keep informed and interested.
Limitations of the Study
During the process of preparing and producing this research paper, a number of challenges and limitations were encountered. First, it would have been felt better if the information presented in this paper was primary information. However, it was not possible to visit various project management consulting firms and obtain the first hand information on the process of initiating a project management program that would suite the fire department for the Liberty Township. The major reason why this was not possible is because of the limited time available and financial constraints. Time was a limitation because it was not possible to schedule a visit to these firms in the already tight academic schedule. Again, traveling to those destinations required some logistical arrangements such as source for funds to cater for expenses. Another limitation was faced during the process of library and internet collection of data and information. There were very limited resources of the process of initiating a project management program for a project. The worst limitation was that there was no particular publication on how a fire department could initiate a project management program. The information obtained from other kinds of projects was therefore tailored to fit in the context of a fire department. To come up with this program for project management in the fire department in Liberty Township, there was need to collect information on the operations or the business of a fire department and also information concerning the process of initiating a management program. It was hard, almost impossible to find a single person who could relate or who had adequate information concerning the two issues. The project management experts lacked much knowledge about the operations of a typical fire department or a fire station. They were therefore unable to give detailed advice on what needed to be done specifically. Those who possessed such information on the other hand were the fire station and department officials and they were unable to show how the process of project management could be integrated into their operations as a department.
Through the research conducted, the major challenges in the management of most fire departs in Delaware, specifically in Liberty Township were found to have rooted from historical problems in the management of the department. This was mainly contributed by appointing officers who were not well trained or knowledgeable in fire protection and control skills into the top management. Initially, there were challenges in sourcing for financial resources and in most cases, the equipment that was used was second hand. Use of these second hand equipments also contributed to a challenge in the management in the earlier days because most were inefficient. Through research, it has been established that most people who were involved in the department’s activities were mostly volunteers who lacked special training in fire protection skills.
Poor project management of projects in this department began with the appointment of Mr. Reeves who was the first chief (Nicholson, 2004). He was a man of good intent, with good organizing skills but just like most of the officers in the department, he lacked the necessary knowledge. Good organizing skills are an asset in fire protection issues but on its own, it can be as good as lack of the skill at all. A program for managing projects for this department is possible. This program integrates several principles of management right from the project initiation process through implementation to monitoring and evaluation stages.
In order to bring improvement of understanding of project management fundamentals among the officers and other staff in the fire department of Liberty Township, a simple and easy to adopt program for managing projects in the department should be developed. This program should be customized to address the current and arising management issues in any ongoing or new project being done by the department. It is strongly felt that the new proposed ideas in this paper may not take long time before implementation if the officers realize the potential of the recommendations made in this paper. The information herein is of great use not only for Liberty Township which is being referred, but also in most other townships in Delaware which are facing similar challenges in their fire departments.
The results of the research paper as shown here are not unique. Through other research, it has been found that most government departments including those of fire in various townships and counties have faced acute project management problems in the past. Their private sector counterparts have continuously exhibited competence in this field. The implication of this study to most project managers is enormous. It can bring unbelievable positive change in the administrative and management systems of most government and local authorities’ bodies.
It is highly recommended that the Liberty Fire department senior management should carefully evaluate the content of the paper and try to apply the information contained herein. Great care should be taken to ensure the principles discussed are applied as the project commences, in the whole period of project delivery up to end of each project. However, the department should take time to set rules concerning implementation because it may be interested in the ideas and begin with high spirits but since the process of applying the discussed program is demanding and needs persistence, most officers may lose morale and take the recommendations seriously. Policies governing adoption of new project management styles should be adopted or if some exist, it should be made clear on how everybody concerned shall remain committed to the requirements of the new program.
Due to the limitations mentioned earlier in this paper, possibly all information or evidence was not gathered and it is strongly recommended that in future, more research should be done to ascertain the claims made about Liberty Township Fire Department, either in Liberty or in another township that may have faced similar challenges in project management.
Firms that are planning to begin fire protection projects are also advised to review this information before starting their projects so that they may avoid serious problems that occur as a result of poor management of projects. It is also important to note that the information contained in this research paper, although it addressed projects related to fire protection services, could be applied to other kinds of projects because it uses the general principles of initiating a project management program. The procedure is basically the same for other kinds of projects. It is therefore, recommended that other investors, government agencies, not-for –profit organizations and local and international non- governmental organizations should utilize this piece of work for proper management of their various kinds of projects.
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