This paper aims to evaluate the project which has recently been completed by the team CCEE Engineering Solutions. The major objective was to develop a reliable and cost-effective solar energy tracking system that would reduce clients expenses and contribute to the protection of the environment. In order to assess the results of this work, we need to apply the model which is commonly known as the project management triangle, consisting of three elements: cost, quality and schedule (Woodward, 125). In other words, it is necessary to pay attention to such parameters as cost and time-efficiency, human resource management, risk assessment and naturally the characteristics of the final product: its applicability and usage. This approach enables us to identify strong and weak points of the original plan along with its implementation. It is also critical to single out the major stages of the process, namely, concept development, design, construction, assembly and marketing. Overall, it is quite possible to say that the project went as planned yet there were some hindrances which had to be overcome. This experience has also been important from educational and professional viewpoints as it has improved students learning and interpersonal skills.
On the whole, the initial schedule was quite realistic and each of the tasks was carried out in time almost without procrastination. In this respect, it should be pointed out that each member of the team and other participants made everything possible to meet the deadlines set at the very beginning. The suppliers were quite reliable and components of the future solar track were delivered promptly without any damage. All these factors gave us an opportunity to finish the project as soon as possible. Careful timing allowed us to fully concentrate on the quality and functionality of the prototype. This practice has clearly shown that the scheduling process must never be overlooked as in the vast majority of cases; it can shape the eventual outcome.
From the very outset, the team had to cope with the budget restrictions. One of the most crucial questions was the choice of suppliers. Thus, special attention had to be given to procurement methods. We had to carefully evaluate the offers made by different suppliers. The key task was to find the best price-quality ratio. Furthermore, we had to take into consideration the reliability of the contractors and subcontractors who shipped the constituent parts of the future solar energy generator. While tailoring the business plan and allocating costs, we had to research the situation in the market in order to minimize the risk of unexpected expenses. According to the initial estimations, the whole project required approximately $ 360.000. Moreover, even this sum of money was considered to be insufficient. Nevertheless, due to well-balanced financing, the net costs were cut down to $248.76. This evidence indicates that people collaborating on the joint task need to focus on appropriate distribution of funds and satisfactory results can be achieved even despite budgeting restraints.
Human resource management
The implementation of the project was made possible only through effective coordination, continuous exchange of information, active participation of each team member and most importantly enthusiastic attitude towards the ultimate goal. Weekly meetings were held in order to ensure that every person is acquainted with the progress and project updates. They were also helpful to that extent that they enabled the partakers to share ideas with one another and make recommendations the original plan. The most crucial goal was to integrate the activities so that we could cooperate on a regular basis and be more aware of the scope of our duties.
It is rather difficult to evaluate risk management strategies of the team. On the one hand, they have proved to be rather efficient as we had practically no problems with scheduling and financing. The team did not have to incur any extra expenses and there were practically no delays. Yet, it should be noted that some miscalculations were made during design and assembly stage. We did not take into account the possibility that solar generators could be inapplicable for small-scale applications. If these risks had been considered earlier, the outcome might have been drastically different.
Characteristics of the product
During this stage we had to develop the system that could be functional, convenient and suitable for various needs. It has to be admitted that the final prototype has several shortcomings: first it cannot be used for small-scale applications due to the complexity and cost of maintenance. Nonetheless, its usage is quite justified in industrial facilities that can make full use of solar generators. This is one of the key limitations because under such scenario, the target audience for this product is rather limited and we would have to adopt different strategies in order to promote this device in the market. At this point, it is quite possible for us to conclude that the stage of design lays the foundations for the success of the project and it is vital to make the product applicable for a diverse range of customers (Turner, 542). Moreover, it significantly affects subsequent marketing strategies and the popularity of the product.
In the course of our work we have found compelling evidence that research of components must never be disregarded. The lack of attention can result in poor understanding of the final product, limited functionality, and reduced efficiency. Again we have to emphasize the idea that the prototype is capable of tracking the sun’s energy and producing the increased output but the sphere of its application is rather narrow.
The benefits of this project
The benefits of this project are multi-dimensional. On the one hand, we need to speak about educational aspects. Each participant has acquired an invaluable experience of teamwork. These skills would be of great assistance to everyones future career. Secondly, each student had a chance to improve his area of study, for example, engineering, finance, project management, design and marketing. In fact, it can be called self-education. To some degree, it was a trial and error method that gives a chance for independent learning and helps to identify mistakes and rectify them. In this way we have managed to work and train simultaneously.
This knowledge can set the stage for future professional activities. Furthermore, this project can help us to avoid errors, which can arise in the course of work. Namely, this experience has eloquently proved that the design phase is probably the most critical in the whole process. During this stage of the project it is vital to ensure that the output is user-friendly and has a vast field of application. Insufficient attention to design is one of the most dangerous pitfalls as it diminishes the efficiency of the prototype and makes it more expensive. This project has also demonstrated that meticulous planning, scheduling, financing are the indispensable preconditions for success (Orr, 6). Certainly, these ideas are not entirely original but their importance becomes more prominent during practice. Overall, the development of such solar generators should be continued. The working prototype should be modified and adjusted to the needs of various customers. It is necessary to minimize maintenance costs and simplify the usage. In its essence, this idea of such a device is rather promising but it requires elaboration and modification.
The project aimed to design and build a more effective solar track system, which would be both environment-friendly and less expensive. Judging from the results, we can argue that the key objectives have been achieved. In terms of scheduling and financing, the implementation was quite effective as there were not unforeseen delays and costs. The preliminary estimations have proved to be feasible. As regards HR management, we can say that relations among partners were based on mutual help and respect. Yet, there were several weaknesses in risk management, in particular, limited functionality of the prototype and narrow field of application. But this product can be changed in order to suit the demands of a wide range of the population. Apart from that, participation in such projects improves professional and interpersonal skills of the students. This experience has identified our personal strengths and weaknesses and the ways of raising our professional and educational level. Therefore, such types of learning activities should only be encouraged.
Orr A. D. Advanced project management: a complete guide to the processes, models and techniques. Kogan Page Publishers, 2004.
Turner J. R. Gower Handbook of Project Management. Gower Publishing, Ltd, 2008
Woodward J. F. Construction project management: getting it right first time. Thomas Telford, 1997.