In 2017, I took on my first project in food and beverage manufacturing. It was a welcome change from service delivery into an organization with a product orientation. The client site had three major production lines, one for putting beverages in glass and the others for putting beverages in cans. Whilst the site drove business value by producing it’s own products, it made complementary revenue from acting as co-packer for external parties. The consequence of this was that the site ran a lot of different products, which made machine uptime critical success factor for the business bottom line.

Due to a number of factors the existing glass line was experiencing significant downtime and upkeep cost which lead the business to replace a number of key components. My role was to Project Manage the replacement of key components on this line in an 10 week window whilst production ran morning and night on the remaining lines. I managed to achieve this ahead of time and with zero impact to parallel production. The following video provides an overview of the works involved:

Whilst we had a bit of luck along the way, the key pillars that enabled this project to stay on track were stakeholder management and communication. Ensuring everyone was on the same page, knew their role and knew who to talk to when they were unsure. Simple habits aided our team in keeping on the same page, these habits included:

1. Meetings have an agenda with all discussed items requiring:

  • Decision on the appropriate next steps
  • Decision to close item and move forward

2. All meetings are minuted with action, name, date next to each item

3. Reporting is formal and transparent – this means management and project team are on the same page with regards to project status

4. Conflicts are resolved in the following order (depending on proximity)

  • Same room with a whiteboard
  • Same call with a shared screen

Matching vision to audio is critical for both understanding and alignment

Whilst there are a lot of complicated elements, that require a lot of brain power to deliver projects, more often than not, it’s the simple habits like the ones above that pave the way for successful delivery.