Project Management Book of Knowledge (PMBOK 5th Edition) defines a project as “a temporary endeavour undertaken to create a unique product or service” (Project Management Institute, 2008). Alternatively, a project can be thought of as a well-defined set of tasks that must all be completed in order to meet the project’s goals (Klastorin 2004)
Mining companies face many challenges when it comes to defining project success criteria and project management practices. The project manager in the mining industry should have the knowledge, experience, and competence to understand and define the interrelationships among the project management components. Understanding the evolving contractual and human interdependencies in executing, along with team building and stakeholder engagement are significant skills that address the expectations and needs of each stakeholder.
Lack of planning, poor preparation, poor communication, and teamwork skills, and weak contract administration are leading causes of problems on a mining project. When coupled with the speed with the communication happens and decision is made, a project complexity of high complexity and demand is created.
Employee engagement plays an important role in mining project success as workers form the backbone of this industry. They represent a separate stakeholder and it is important to manage them in project management. There is a significant amount of emphasis on stakeholder engagement and communication which we will see in the upcoming review.A success or a failure of a mining project can be attributed to the non-compliance to more than one individual project management components. Several components come to play when making a project success. Alternatively, a project’s failure can be attributed to the failure of implementation/compliance with more than one project management component.
A mining project is said to be successful if achieves the scope completion on (or less than) the planned time and within (or less than) the allocated budget assigned to it keeping the Health, Safety and Environmental compliance into account.
These days when projects are becoming more complex, it is imperative to follow the standard practices set by the Project Management Institute coupled with the mindset of the agile project management methodology. Agile project management was popularized by the Agile Manifesto (agilemanifesto.org, 2001). Agile principles include minimal planning and documentation, the submission of deliverables in small increments to obtain user feedback, and quick response. Agile project management has so far been influential mainly for the knowledge work in which the output is not visible. However, in the mining industry where there are daily communication challenges, project feedback on daily basis, feedback from stakeholders and their constant engagement, the agile way of executing a project makes more sense than ever. However, implementing scaled agile for large projects outside the software development domain poses a challenge to project success. BELOW ARE THE FACTORS WHICH DEFINES A MINING PROJECT SUCCESS
In the context of mining projects, most owners (including owner support organizations such as project management consultants or insurers) work in matrix or composite structure, with designated project manager roles and team for mining projects. Team sizes and team members’ exclusive dedication to a project is dependent on project’s size and complexity and strategic importance to the owner. Both owner and contractor organizations may include Project Management Offices (PMOs). While the former tends to have a directive or controlling PMOs, the latter have strong matrix or fully projectized structure. Figure 2-1 (provided by PMBOK 5th edition) provides illustrated the correlation between type of organizational structure and type of PMO to help organizational environment in which the mining projects are executed. In the planning or bidding phase, the contractor will benefit from studying the owner’s organization. Contractors should study the organization and design a project organization breakdown structure that matches the owner’s breakdown structure for the project. The owner’s structure usually reflects project management and execution strategy, so by matching it, the contractor may have easier time aligning with the owner’s strategy. This may improve communications because any role in a given structure should have a matching peer. This is critical for the project’s success as a communication standard is set.
ENTERPRISE ENVIRONMENTAL FACTORS
Mining projects allows us to take an entirely different perspective to project management. The first identified success factor is the Enterprise Environmental factor in the mining industry which includes the following.
- Economic factors – Mining projects involve exploration of mining sites using technology (drones, satellite data) extraction of raw materials using manpower and automated machines (hand driller, remote-controlled drilling machines), transportation of raw materials through transport vehicles (transport trucks). Costs of these types of machinery and manpower (specifically their occupational hazard compensation) depend on the global/national/local economy. Fluctuating raw material prices which are being extracted (for example, gold, silver, oil, etc.) may positively or negatively impact the benefit to cost ratios of the project. Ina fixed price contract mining project, inflation may also decide the project’s success. Missing inflation in the project contract would have disastrous effect on the project’s success.
- Site Location Factors – A major impact on a mining project success would be where the mining will be done. The project location plays an important role in the project’s budget and the level of complexity. For example, offshore mining of oil is costlier, more complex and riskier compared to mining on land. The types of terrain, proximity to fault lines and rock formation would also impact the project’s risks and budget allocation. The labor availability and their level of qualification on a site would also impact the project costs.
HEALTH, SAFETY, SECURITY, AND ENVIRONMENTAL FACTORS
This is perhaps the most important factor in determining the mining project success. Employee health and wellness are introduced for mining jobs personnel as these directly affect the project risk and safety. Trends include virtual technology, safety regulations, incentives, and environmental certifications. It is common for project sponsors or owners to invoke extra measures of safety where general measures may be considered as insufficient to provide assurance and control required. Health safety, security, and environment pertaining to construction are described as follows:
- Health – Employee health programs are becoming increasingly important in the corporate environment and directly influence risk and safety factors. Health and wellness programs can address not only physical health factors for working in the mining industry but also wellness programs that assist in establishing a work-life balance and assist with other stress-inducing issues that affect mental stability and focus. Mining sites offer unexplored/unfamiliar work location, changing environment, job stress and risk of accidents which makes health programs critical for project success. Some methods for maintaining a healthy site include:
- a. Dust & Noise control measures
- b. Onsite medical facilities
- c. Fatigue mitigation plans
- d. Work hour limitations
- e. Regular health check-ups and hygienic working conditions
- f. Provision of trained first aid personnel
- Safety – The safety of mining crew and project teams is a top challenge on mining projects and should be a priority in all levels of the organization. Safety behavior, ownership and incident reduction is closely monitored and controlled throughout the project. Non-compliance safety standards may lead to extra fines being imposed to the owner and contractors alike which may lead project spiraling to ultimate failure. Some of the methods of effective safe work practices and procedures are:
- a. Verification and validation that personnel equipment (PPE) is appropriate and in good condition for the required activity
- b. Pre-site preparation (hazard analysis, permits, site familiarization, etc.)
- c. Ongoing training
- d. Traffic Management
- e. Periodic checking of tools and equipment
- f. Safety and Environmental Zoning Signage
- g. Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs)
- h. Risk identification and assessment
- Security – Controlled site access is an important consideration for mitigating unauthorized entry, theft, and vandalism. A secure job site allows only access to authorized access to construction zones and maintains security of the facility and grounds when no activities are underway. Some options for securing a work area are:
- a. Badge/smartcard-controlled areas
- b. Security gates and fencing
- c. Traffic barriers
- d. Security guards
- e. Remote security (cameras, sensors, etc.)
- f. Site lighting both inside and outside of the mine
- Environmental – Impact of the project on the environment must be studied before commencing any operation. It should be done at the planning stage itself and mitigation and control plans should be put in place before the project begins. Several aspects of the environment should be considered, including:
- a. Recycling/waste management
- b. Hazardous waste handling
- c. Environmental clean-up
- d. Noise monitoring
- e. Acoustic control
- f. Site drainage
- g. Dust Control
- h. Government permitting requirements
Cost of environmental or safety non-compliance can be detrimental to a project if litigation, fines or a job shutdown occurs. Compliance is mandatory and its cost is determined by a form of cost-benefit analysis that incorporates the potential impacts of non-compliance on the project.
PROJECT MANAGEMENT COMPONENTS CONTROL
Other factors such as
- Integration Management
- Cost control
- Sequencing and Schedule management
- Stakeholder Management
- Quality Assurance and Quality Control
- Risk Management
- Contract control throughout the project is critical for project success. All the above factors are defined and explained in detail along with the tools used to implement them by the Project Management Book of Knowledge (PMBOK). The project managers must handle these factors throughout the project.
IMPACT OF EMPLOYEE ENGAGEMENT IN PROJECT SUCCESS
Woods, J. M. (2015), introduces us to the fact that every organization wants a high-performing team which makes a direct impact on the project success and helps in achieving organizational objectives. A project manager’s job is to align the project team to achieve high performance and foster employee engagement.
Woods, J. M. (2015) also states that employee engagement is a state of mind which is assimilated by employees and is characterized by active involvement in project work activities, commitment to project success and the team, and an ability to stay focused on work throughout the tenure of the project (Costa, 2014). Human Resource professionals have understood the idea of employee engagement at work, and hence, such programs are increasing in many workplaces. However, many of these “employee engagement programs” are not nearly producing the desired results because an attitude of engagement cannot be forced/trainted to individuals; rather, engagement is internal to individuals (Matuson, 2015).
Increasing engagement of employees should be paramount of project managers and organization leaders. Employee engagement can increase the project performance and the project manager plays an important role in it says Woods, J. M. (2015). For example, research has shown that engagement increases task performance, attitudes toward customers, and the level of efficacy held by a team (Torrente, Salanova, Llorens, & Schaufeli, 2012). Research has also shown that engaged employees display higher levels of job satisfaction, more commitment to the organization, and a less intention to leave the organization (Saks, 2006)
It is also discovered that there are different types of engagements levels in an organization. Personal engagement is seen when individuals are cognitively, emotionally, and physically participating in their role at work (Kahn, 1990). Engagement at work is a state of mind expressed in specific behaviors that are influenced by an individual’s personality and outlook on life (Macey & Schneider, 2008). The engagement was first articulated in the 1990s as an extension of job attachment theory to include the relationship between an individual’s perception of themselves and their job (Kahn, 1990). More recent conceptualizations of engagement attempt to separate components of engagement into an individual psychological state, observable performance-related behaviors, a combination of these factors (Macey & Schneider, 2008), and to distinguish work engagement from the similar construct of burnout (Schaufeli, Martínez, Pinto, Salanova, & Bakker, 2002; Schaufeli, Taris, & van Rhenen, 2008).
Employee engagement is a state of mind held by team members that include thinking about the work and being absorbed in the work being done (Saks, 2006). Engagement in this context has been characterized by an individual’s level of vigor, dedication, and absorption (Schaufeli et al., 2002).
Engagement is also an opposite to burnout in employees (Maslach & Goldberg, 1998; Schaufeli et al., 2002). Burnout is a phenomenon at work where individuals are exhausted, cynical of their workplace, and ineffective at work (Maslach, Schaufeli, & Leiter, 2001). When individuals feel burnout, development of interpersonal conflicts and stress is only natural which causes both job performance and health to be affected negatively. Exhaustion is represented by lack of energy, the opposite of vigor; cynicism negates dedication to one’s work, and ineffectiveness does not allow an individual to become absorbed in their work. Schaufeli et al. (2008) suggest that burnout and engagement are distinct and opposite aspects of overall employee well-being at work, with exhaustion in contrast to vigor and cynicism in contrast to dedication. Thus, when a project manager or leader supports employee engagement, she is also decreasing the chances of employee burnout.
The engagement has also been defined as a team-level construct (Costa, 2014; Fearon, McLaughlin, & Morris, 2013). At the team level, work-related well-being is shared among team members and develops over time with repeated interactions among team members (Costa, 2014). Teamwork engagement is built from a sense of collective efficacy, arising from a shared belief in the team’s value to the organization and capability to perform effectively (Fearon et al., 2013). Teamwork engagement also influences individual work engagement (Tims et al., 2013), thus a manager who focuses on building team collective efficacy and engagement will also influence the work engagement of individual team members.
At the team level, high levels of teamwork engagement lead to high levels of team performance (Tims et al., 2013; Torrente et al., 2012). When teams held a high level of engagement (vigor, dedication, and absorption) in their work, this led to higher levels of both task-related and relationship-oriented performance (Torrente et al., 2012).
Woods, J. M. (2015) concludes that Employee Engagement can occur only if there is an agreement among the team members about the team’s work and goals. Project managers can rise up and maintain a high level of team engagements in the following ways.
- Be a role model of the work engagement by showing a high level of energy, focus, and commitment to the achievement thereby inspiring the team. Role modeling has been shown to be a crucial leader behavior to foster desired performance in individuals and teams (Cartwright & Holmes, 2006)
- Provide social and structural resources for the team by removing obstacles to the goals and creating an environment of safety and security.
- Provide challenging assignments to the team. People who enjoy working on challenging assignments are more likely to be engaged in a workplace that offers challenging work. Thus, as a team leader, it is important to satisfy the need for challenging work by offering opportunities for skill development and capacity strengthening.
- Allow the team to share in the process of designing work and plans to achieve team goals. Job crafting is an important aspect of work that contributes to higher levels of work engagement and includes the individual or team’s ability to acquire and use structural job resources (autonomy), develop social job resources, increase challenging job demands, and decrease job demands that hinder the team’s performance (Tims et al., 2013). When team members get to define the work process and develop tools to complete it, they are more invested and committed to the team and its goals which lead to high focus and goals.
- Remove obstacles that are hindering team success such as unclear requirements, clearing up dependencies on tasks.
As it is evident from the research above that there are more than one issues which pose a challenge in the mining sector. These can be summed up in the following points:
- Challenges in working environment/hazards of Mining industry
- Lack of Organizational Agility, and the presence of inhibiting factors such as mindset of masculinity in mining
- Job Stress and Strain eventually leading to accidents
- Lack/inadequacy of safety and health programs in mining work
- Lack of employee engagement in an organization
- Ignorance of Project managers about employee engagement and how it proves to be a catalyst in the project success.
Each of the above points is of utmost importance for the project success. Mining industry prefers a projectized organizational structure which demands the tradespeople to work in a highly adaptive and agile environment with daily challenges coming their way almost daily.
Challenges in the working environment should be dealt with complying with the latest health and safety regulations which, if not followed will lead to accidents and hefty fines severely impacting the project’s budget and reserves. The project should take advantage of the Cost analysis tools, Risk management tools, and Quality control metrics to improve the organizational agility, controlling defects and making operations more efficient.
The ultimate goal of the Mining program should be complete elimination of mining occupational disease and accident. This program should go extra lengths in interacting with numerous researchers, regulators and other stakeholders to establish successful and mutually beneficial relationships. The Mining Program should accelerate the development of engineering controls aimed at meeting MSHA personal exposure limits for mining-related hazards.
Mining companies should also make sure that they are abreast with the latest safety and technical updates to keep their organization updated with the latest safety regulations and avoid any accidents in the future. It will also enable them to implement the latest technology in their field which will enable their workers to avoid any exposure to hazardous environment.
As discussed in the last section, employee engagement is one mechanism that project managers need to leverage for greater project performance. It not only leads to higher job satisfaction but also lower levels of burnout. When team members are energetic, dedicated and absorbed in their work, they will be more productive, and their teams will be seen by the stakeholders and organization as high-performing and successful.