Episode 359: How to Manage a Shipyard Project (Premium)
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This episode is sponsored by The Agile PrepCast. PDU for PMP::
Shipyards and dockyards are the places where ships are repaired and built. Here we are talking about yachts, military vessels, cruise liners or other types of cargo or passenger ships. And of course, in order to stay on time, on budget and on scope, a shipyard project manager oversees the project.
Fernando Remolina González (https://www.linkedin.com/in/remolinaf) has been working in ship repair and shipbuilding project management for about a decade. He is one of the few voices that write and speak about their experience in managing projects on ships.
It's a fascinating and centuries old industry that requires the project manager to have lots of technical experience. Beyond that shipyard project management follows a pretty standard approach. You initiate, plan, execute, monitor & control, and then you close the project. But as in any other industry, it’s what you do that makes all the difference.
This interview is based on Fernando's article titled "Shipyards: Fast and Complex Projects" [2019 Update: the website is no longer available, so we removed the link].
PDU TipThis interview is 24 minutes long. This means that you can "legally" only claim 0.25 PDUs for listening to it. However... if you first listen to the interview and then also read the article on which it is based, then you can go ahead and claim 0.50 PDUs!
Cornelius Fichtner: Hello and welcome to this Premium Episode #359. I am Cornelius Fichtner.
Premium means that this interview is reserved for you, our Premium subscribers. Thank you very much for being here and for supporting the Podcast.
Shipyards and dockyards are places where ships are repaired and built. And here we are talking about yards, multi-vessels, cruise liners and other types of cargo or passenger ships. And of course in order to stay on time, on budget and on scope, a shipyard project manager oversees the project.
Fernando Remolina has been working in ship building project management for about a decade. He is one of the few voices that write and speak about their experience in managing projects on ships. It's a fascinating and centuries old industry that requires the project manager to have lots of technical expertise.
Beyond that, shipyard project management however follows a pretty standard approach. You initiate plan, execute, monitor and control, and then you close the project. But as in any other industry, it is what you do that makes the difference.
So let's hear what it is that makes that difference! Enjoy the interview.
Female Voice: The Project Management Podcast's feature interview: Today with Fernando Remolina, Project Manager at Curacao Drydock Company, Project Management Author and Public Speaker.
Cornelius Fichtner: Fernando, welcome back and thank you for your time here.
Fernando Remolina: Hi, Cornelius! It's a pleasure to be here again with you.
Cornelius Fichtner: We are going to continue to talk about shipyard projects. Let's begin with some basic questions for our interview here. What is a shipyard?
Fernando Remolina: Shipyard is a place where ships are repaired or built. Shipyards are located near to seashores or rivers. A shipyard has all the facilities, manpower and equipment for ship repair and ship building.
Cornelius Fichtner: When you talk about ship repair, when I look at a ship, first of all a ship can be very, very big and the second thing is a ship is in the water. So how do you repair something that big that is in the water?
Fernando Remolina: Exactly. This is so very interesting process actually, Cornelius. Maybe you can imagine a big pool, let's say 200 meters long, big pool and is full of water, the same level of the sea water. We have big gate that is open. The ship enters to that pool. The gate is closed and then we start with big massive pumps to pump out all the water from that pool. So the vessel divers are involved in this process because they have to check that the vessel sits properly in some blocks. These blocks are made of cement and has some wood implants on top, special wood so that this ship can sit on it without any problem without affecting the structure of the vessel. So when we are pumping out the water, the vessel is going down and sitting on the blocks. Then when it is completed seated or the pump or the water is out. And then you have the vessel completely out of the water.
Cornelius Fichtner: Is that what is called a drydock?
Fernando Remolina: Exactly! That is a drydock.
Cornelius Fichtner: Okay. So what are some of the reasons why ships need to go to a shipyard for repair?
Fernando Remolina: There are two main reasons. The first one is because they should have an accident or many equipment is damaged and they need some specialized men in order to repair.
And the second reason is because vessel condition needs to be certified. All the ships must have classification society. They are the ones in charge to certify that vessels are in good shape and comply with all rules in order to give the services for what they have been built. It's part of the rules of classification society has. They demand to ship owners to enter the drydock every two or two-and-a-half years for inspections and maintenance. In those two situations, Cornelius, shipyards are the key players to keep the vessels working.
Cornelius Fichtner: How many shipyards are there around the world?
Fernando Remolina: Well Cornelius based on recent research, I found that there are 2,523 shipyards in the world.
Cornelius Fichtner: Wow!
Fernando Remolina: Can you imagine how big this industry is?
Cornelius Fichtner: Yeah, that is huge! Because each of those shipyards has at least one project manager working for it.
Fernando Remolina: Exactly!
Cornelius Fichtner: How long have you personally been working in a shipyard?
Fernando Remolina: I've been working for almost 10 years.
Cornelius Fichtner: Wow! And how long have you been a shipyard project manager?
Fernando Remolina: Yeah, actually I have been 6 years as Shipyard Operating Manager.
Cornelius Fichtner: Well, let's sum it up here. You know thousands of ships, two-and-a-half thousand shipyards around the world. I just had a guess there but how many project managers do you think work in shipyards?
Fernando Remolina: That is a good question, Cornelius. You can multiply those 2,523 shipyards times four private managers each as a mean. Some of them have more. Some of them have less. But then if you multiply it times 4 then you will have a total of 10,092 project managers.
Cornelius Fichtner: Wow, okay! So I have a challenge for all our listeners out there. If you are a project manager who works in a shipyard, do us a favor. Go to the website www.pm-podcast.com. Go to this episode right here and tell us: "Yes, I am a project manager who works in a shipyard." Let's see how many listeners we have who actually work in shipyards.
Alright, moving on! What is the role of a project manager in a ship repair project? What do you do?
Fernando Remolina: As a project manager, I am responsible about all the aspects of the project from planning, customer satisfaction until project financial results. That's basically my function as a project manager.
Cornelius Fichtner: Yeah! Are you also involved in coordination between the various groups that actually do the work on the repair?
Fernando Remolina: Yeah, coordination is one of the most important aspects during execution because what you plan in papers, you have to make it happen in real. So coordination and leadership skills are very important for this role.
Cornelius Fichtner: Are there any standard project management methodologies that are used for shipyard repair projects?
Fernando Remolina: Actually, Cornelius, I have been working for 3 shipyards and all of them has their own project management process but none of them are recognized by project management standard. But I think probably there are adjusting actually project management for ship building is more advanced than in ship repair.
Cornelius Fichtner: How many projects have you personally managed in the last year?
Fernando Remolina: Last year? 16 projects.
Cornelius Fichtner: 16 projects.
Fernando Remolina: Yeah!
Cornelius Fichtner: Like what we have learned from our first interview and they were all repair projects.
Fernando Remolina: Exactly! All repair.
Cornelius Fichtner: Okay! And how many projects do you normally manage at the same time?
Fernando Remolina: Yeah! That depends. Right now, we have 3 projects. One is a small project. The other one is almost finished and the third one is just starting.
Cornelius Fichtner: Okay! Let's talk a little bit here about budget. When you say a small project, the largest project that I have personally ever managed was only $1,000,000 US dollars in cost. My projects have always been very small. When you say: "I'm managing a small project." What is the budget of such a project?
Fernando Remolina: Small projects can be let's say $100,000 and big projects can be $10,000,000 US dollars.
Cornelius Fichtner: Wow! Okay. So let's review what the project manager does during the 5 process groups. But first, are we talking about one project manager, so a single person here or do you have assistance that help you?
Fernando Remolina: Actually I am the only one who do all the project management aspects. But I have an estimator assigned to me. He helped me with cost calculations and invoicing. In some other shipyards depending on the complexity of the project, they can assign the project a planner, ship manager and also can be sometimes 2 project managers.
Cornelius Fichtner: So let's take a look at those 5 process groups. What happens during initiation from your side?