Projects and Project Management as Vehicles To accomplish Organization’s Strategic Goals

GM591: Strategic Project Selection and Initiation

This focus paper gives an insight of the project management aspect of the successful completion of the Golden Gate Bridge. The GM591: Strategic Project Selection and Initiation portion provides analyses of the project selected on the basis of the coherence in the organizational objectives, strategies, goals and the final project outcome. The paper further highlights on the adequacy of the project procedures, techniques and policies. Other aspects of the project like the selection of the project manager and sponsor are looked into versus the success story of this engineering construction. Moreover, other elements in relation to the planning and performance standards like, cost, risk, time are also scrutinized.

Introduction/ background/ discussion

The 1933 – 1937 construction of the Golden Gate Bridge was an outstanding engineering work in the history of America. The Analysis of the project’s cause and course is one with interesting facts as this focus paper highlights in its findings.For about forty years the idea for a bridge spanning the Golden Gate remained unpursued. The bridge would connect San Francisco to Marin County and facilitate the development of north San Francisco.

Mapping organizational objectives to the project outcomes

The Golden Gate Bridge was objectively built for no other purpose than to serve the automobiles driver. It was built to ease traffic that was being experienced as the ferry system, having been used in San Francisco since 1850 was hugely strained because of the expansion of the automobile ownership throughout the 1920s (Zinkova, 2010).The city dwellers moved to the suburbs, that is, the side of San Francisco Bay as they purchased automobiles. The suburbanites depended on the ferry system to get to the city. The traffic at the ferry terminals was too heavy and this became the objective on which the necessity for building of a bridge across the “Golden Gate.” When the bridge was finally put into use its objective was achieved as no more congestion and the traffic opened up.

Project’s reflection on the organizational strategies.

The project organization did not reflect the organizational strategy in terms of cost. This is because the team and engineers behind this construction budgeted for $30.1 million at the time of the project’s approval. This never came to be the case as the project’s costs turned out to be $36.7 million, thereby resulting to a cost overrun of 22%.

Structurally, the Golden Gate Bridge’s project organization never failed its formulators and implementers. This is evident when the 1989, Loma Prieta earthquake shook San Francisco Bay for about 15 seconds but never cause any significant damage to the bridge. The project’s organization was formulated to meet the organizational strategy of sustaining the winds of up to 96km/hr and strong ocean current sweep(Zinkova, 2010).

Proper selection of project sponsor and project manager.

On the aspect of project manager, Joseph Strauss took the lead of other engineers on this particular project. This selection of the individual to take this position was never a question but the engineer to propel the groundbreaking and the entire construction of the bridge to the later was a courageous step. This is because the underlying factors with respect to the proposal on the Golden Gate Bridge construction was quiet of risk than an open success showing project (Zuehlke, 2010).Strauss had to take the risk as many experts never believed of the possibility of building such a long bridge under such difficult circumstances. For instance, the strong currents and heavy winds on the site of the bridge made construction dangerous.

On the other hand, the selection of project sponsor was a unique one as there was little state or federal money used in the building of the bridge (Barter, 2001). Most of the financing on the project came from the bonds which the Golden Gate Bridge and Highway District sold. Even though the project was being undertaken in the midst of the Great Depression, the voters in the six counties of the district in 1930 approved a $35 million bond issue which required them to put their businesses, homes and farms as collateral.

Adequacy of project procedures, policies and techniques

The Golden Gate Bridge project was successfully completed in time. The incorporation of the risk factors like the tide, fog, earthquake and winds in the framework of the bridge’s construction was a major boost the success of such an engineering work.

The risk and quality of the project with associated planning and performance standards.

That is, the bridge in this location should be able to withstand brutal winds, fog and tide besides being located about 13 km from the epicenter of the most catastrophic earthquake in history. Designing the bridge therefore would put into consideration such risk factors.
The structural behavior of the Golden Gate Bridge is only accurate when there is uniform distribution of load applied along its length. When there is load variations along the roadway this will change the funicular shape of the suspension cables and the bridge itself. The spectrum on the variations in the loading is determined through the loading patterns and also on the ratio between the live and the dead loads of the bridge. When the bridge has a small live load proportionate to the dead load, there is less load variations (Zinkova, 2010). Usually, small variations occur, however, the bridge’s roadway must have the necessary stiffness to function as a continuous element for it to minimize excessive deflections when there is passage of heavy loads along the bridge.
The other risk affecting the suspension bridge is that it is subjected to other loads such as those resulting from earthquakes and wind. The cables have no ability to provide for any lateral stiffness, thus, the roadway is the only structural element to with stand lateral or torsional loads applied on the suspension bridge (Barter, 2001).

How to communicate the project to the organization and the stakeholders

The communication process of the Golden Gate Bridge propelled from the project formulators, the engineers down to the stakeholders. This was done through discussions in meetings and seminars and through written documents on the various aspects of the project (Zuehlke, 2010).

Conclusion

The project management process of the Golden Gate Bridge was a challenging one but finally came out to be successful. The objectives of building the bridge were achieved as the congestion and traffic at the ferry was never a problem. This success led to greater economic growth of the north San Francisco.

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