With the International Baking Industry (IBIE) just around the corner, bakers are preparing their shopping lists and checking them twice. What will all this activity lead to? Projects!

We all have them. In operations, projects could be onboarding new operators or reducing scaling variance. For the engineers, they could mean replacing a piece of equipment or installing a new line. We have all likely been a part of projects that hit the target. They came in on time, within budget and met all objectives. And then we have also, perhaps, been part of those that haven’t been as successful. Where’s the line between a project’s success and failure?

To start, well-defined scope and objectives are required for any project. This may sound basic — and it is — but taking the time to establish the scope and clarifying the objectives are essential elements for success. Then there are several boundaries that need to be established: budget, timeline and resources. The budget establishes viability of a project early and sets the stage for whether to pursue new or rebuilt equipment. Timelines help narrow the focus of the project. Resource decisions are also critical. The project manager needs time to evaluate, plan and manage the initiative. Having a manager without the available time or supporting resources is the surest way to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

Once assigned, the project manager must assess the objective and raise any concerns or problems. Objectives need review to determine if they are realistic and achievable within established boundaries. The value of the expected outcomes needs analysis. A preliminary cut at the budget must be made; bring potential suppliers, contractors and internal resources into this process as well as the timeline development. The more input incorporated into the budget and timeline, the more you can rely on the preliminary findings.

If the analysis supports proceeding, then all aspects of the project need to be thoroughly vetted. The cost analysis needs to be reviewed. At this point, suppliers and contractors should be identified and equipment and contract work bid. Once approved and funded, the project manager’s work really begins: managing the suppliers, contractors and assigned resources; monitoring and controlling spending; planning training needs; and preparing for start-up. Success will depend on the training, support skills and open communications with all stakeholders.

While the project manager needs the clear authority to head the job, there remains a strong role for a project champion. The project champion is the executive in the organization who removes internal barriers and provides the needed resources for the project manager. The project champion owns the project and spearheads it through the organization. This person is the flag waver who has sold others on the proposal and ensures the project manager has the support needed to ensure success.

Lastly, a controlled closing is essential. It assesses all aspects of the project and identifies opportunities for improvement for the next one. With these strategies, any company can see a project through to a positive conclusion.

Jim Kline is a contributing editor for Baking & Snack and founder of The EnSol Group. Connect with Mr. Kline at jkline@theensolgroup.com.