Each year, I watch for PMI® to bestow the Project of the Year Award. I thoroughly enjoy reading about the scale and complexity of the awarded projects. It’s not uncommon for the budgets to approach or exceed the half billion dollar mark and for the schedules to span several years. I try to imagine the communication planning that’s in place, how the budget is managed, and how schedule and quality are planned, monitored, and controlled. From a project management perspective, they capture my attention.
And the Winner Is…
Last year, the big award went to the Prairie Waters Project in Aurora, CO. This project was about increasing the city water supply after drought conditions left residents with a 9 month reserve. It was a highly complex project, to say the least. It involved a 10,000-acre parcel of land, 34 miles of pipeline, 4 pump stations, and a water purification facility. In addition to the project scale and complexity, it finished months ahead of schedule and 201 million dollars under budget. Like the projects awarded before it, it represents the pinnacle of project success.
This year, the PMI® Project of the Year Award went to the Umatilla Chemical Agent Disposal Facility Operations Phase, in Hermiston, Oregon, USA. Watch the short video below that provides a behind-the-scenes look at the project work and the PMI® certified professionals who managed it.
A High Stakes Project
By anyone’s standard, this high stakes/high complexity project was a huge success. Besides safely destroying over 220,000 aging and decaying chemical weapons, the project experienced a one month delay and still finished 6 months ahead of schedule. It also came in millions under budget. Like the previous Projects of the Year, it too captures my attention.
Hitting Close to Home
Unlike the other projects, this one also captures my emotions. It speaks to me on a personal level because I live near a decaying chemical weapons stockpile. There’s one located in central Kentucky, at the Bluegrass Army Depot.
Those of us who live near the stockpile move with a quiet fear that’s attached to our feet like a 20 foot shadow. As a stoic voice permeates our homes, we look behind us and hear, “This is only a test…”
Like the chemical weapons in the Umatilla project, our stockpile will also to be destroyed. However, this knowledge only exacerbates our fears. We fear the random accident that will cost lives or forever contaminate our soil and water.
Shining a Light on Project Management
For me, the Umatilla project is a light switch. It allows me to better see our local project. I first see that it’s awarded to Bechtel Parsons Blue Grass. Members of their team have successfully designed, built, and operated all the chemical weapons destruction facilities in the United States.
PMI® certified professionals are involved in the project. This tells me that the lessons learned from Umatilla, and the projects before it, are carried here. It also tells me that there is a solid methodology in place that’s built upon best practice standards for project management.
I sit for a moment, in this comfort, and feel some project management pride. Feelings like this remind me that I’m on the right path.
I enjoy learning about the Project of the Year awards. For me, the 2012 Project is a light switch. I look behind me and the shadow is gone.
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