טכניון מכון טכנולוגי לישראל
הטכניון מכון טכנולוגי לישראל - בית הספר ללימודי מוסמכים  
Ph.D Thesis
Ph.D StudentMichal Iluz-Mimoni
SubjectEnhancing Performance of Project Teams in a Lean Project
Environment Using Simulator Based Training and
Planning
DepartmentDepartment of Industrial Engineering and Management
Supervisor Full Professor Shtub Avraham
Full Thesis textFull thesis text - English Version


Abstract

Challenging timetables, extreme requirements and increasing needs and expectations of the stakeholders require a new approach to project management. Lean project management is an emerging, promising methodology adopted by leading project management and systems engineering communities. The essence of lean project management is to maximize customer value while minimizing waste -activities which do not produce value for the customer. This research addresses some of these challenges.

Project management and systems engineering education has grown and developed over the past decades. Along with this growth, the use of computerized simulators in engineering education has significantly expanded. In the context of education, using simulation as a teaching methodology is commonly referred to as Simulation Based Training (SBT).

This research exploits the capabilities of a simulator as an educational platform. Most research focuses on training of the individual project manager or system engineer. This research deals with the training of the project core team as well as other project team members, which arises from the criticality of teamwork in the lean environment; teamwork is known to lead to better project outcomes in terms of time, performance, cost, and stakeholders' approval.

We investigate how project managers and system engineers with varying levels of knowledge and experience can be trained using SBT. We show that SBT is instrumental in the creation of shared understanding among team members and, in addition, improves tradeoff analysis and decision making.

As part of this research, a new methodology and tools are developed for planning the very early stages of New Product Development (NPD) projects, referred to as the “fuzzy front end”, which is a significant driver of project success. The methodology is implemented in a workshop, based on an innovative simulator-based decision support system. The simulation tool enables the exploration of the existing tradespace of the project and the selection of a design alternative by immediate feedback and interactive evaluation of technical design tradeoffs. The tool is used for development of the project master plan which synchronizes the various disciplines and establishes their commitment to meet the major milestones of the chosen alternative for the project execution. This in turn promotes the formation of shared understanding amongst team members and other project stakeholders.

The proposed methodology was implemented successfully on a variety of projects in the industry in Israel and abroad, with a combined budget exceeding $200M. The results obtained show that the investment of time and resources in conducting the workshop at these early stages of the project contributes significantly to the robustness of the project work plan and boosts the development of shared understanding amongst team members and other stakeholders. Participants in our study emphasized that the methodology helped them to focus their efforts effectively, in accordance with the lean principles. Moreover, continuous monitoring of the majority of the projects for over a year after executing the workshop shows significantly better performance of these projects in terms of cost and schedule variance as compared with the average performance within the company.