Back to Volume 3 | Winter 2018

Editor’s Letter

December, 2018

The articles in this edition of the Journal touch on a number of topics, all with the aim of building out the Project Production Management (PPM) body of knowledge, through successive editions of the Journal. Some of them are tutorial in nature, aimed at greater precision in terminology, such as the article on value stream mapping. Others illustrate applications of basic operations science relationships, such as the article on the unintended consequences of WIP, or on the operations science perspective on the limitations of workface planning. Finally, we also take some positions as an Institute on topics such as the limitations of inferring best practices from statistical benchmarking of capital projects.

This year, 2018, marks the 5th year that the Institute will hold its Annual Symposium. In 5 years, the Institute has come a long way, growing membership from zero to nearly 1000 individual members and over 450 member companies and institutions. As that audience has grown, its awareness of Project Production Management has increased. Accordingly, our activities this year have shifted emphasis in response to the audience need for greater depth and education.

Our outreach to grow membership shifted outside North America, with seminars in Europe and trips to the Middle East to publicize the impact of Project Production Management on capital project performance. We have recognized the need to highlight the impact of various emerging and established digital technologies, and how they could be used to strengthen the application of Operations Science and PPM in capital project delivery. Our 2018 Symposium agenda reflected this realization – we devoted one day out of the two days to discuss and explore the possibilities. In other areas, the year has been a continuation of themes that have persisted over the past few years. We have continued to expand the Industry Council, aiming to engage new sectors which can benefit from the adoption and application of PPM.

However, the bulk of our effort over the year has been on expanding the breadth and depth of technical content. This is in response to the growing demand from our expanding membership to learn more about the technical aspects of PPM, and as well as case examples of its applicability and successful implementation. The culmination of this effort is the development of the new Stanford CIFE-PPI Certificate Course on Project Production Management, which will replace the older VDC course, which will be retired in 2019. Several Institute members have spent considerable time assembling new material and simulations for the delivery of this course. Professor Martin Fischer of Stanford University announced the course and described what it brings to participants in our 2018 Symposium. We plan to hold the first course in Q1 2019, with at least three more sessions later in the year.

We have also spent considerable time expanding the availability of technical content on several other channels. Thanks to the efforts of our colleagues Laura Collman and Iva Koberg, our presence on various social media, particularly LinkedIn, has significantly increased, with a pipeline of announcements and short digests of published Journal articles. The content on the website is expanding with the establishment of a blog to highlight a series of briefs illustrating PPM thinking. We continue to refine and elaborate PPM content in Wikipedia, which happens to be one of the most influential online repositories for reaching new audiences. Finally, we are expanding our presence at different conferences across different continents. All of these activities represent a concerted effort by the Institute to firmly establish the PPM body of knowledge, and to be recognized as the preeminent technical authority for Operations Science and its application to capital project execution and delivery.

Finally, we have had some changes in leadership in the Institute. We are very pleased to welcome Dr. Mark Spearman, one of the foremost technical experts of Operations Science to the Institute as Technical Director. Dr. Spearman has been a friend of the Institute, and a member of the Technical Committee since its inception. The Institute is an intellectual disciple of Factory Physics, the book co-authored by Dr. Spearman with Professor Wallace Hopp. We also welcome Edward Pound, co-author with Dr. Spearman of “Factory Physics for Managers”, another oft-cited reference in this Journal. Both of them add considerable horsepower in generating and improving the technical content produced by the Institute. The PPM Glossary on the Institute website has gone through a considerable upgrade in tightening up general definitions and correcting citations. They made several additions to the Glossary to the rigor and pertaining to Operations Science. The update is substantial enough that we deem it worthwhile to include a printed copy with this edition of the Journal.

We also welcome Laura Collman as Director of Operations. The Institute is able to expand its activities on content generation and dissemination thanks to her reliability and discipline behind the scenes to keep all our operations running smoothly.

After two years at the Institute, Kerry Haley is moving to the Advisory Board, as she steps away from day-to-day activities to spend more time on her own activities in implementing Operations Science concepts and PPM in different sectors. Under her leadership, the Institute has experienced substantial growth, from under 200 members when she joined as Executive Director, to just under 1000 as she leaves. The Institute is thriving in terms of member engagement, thanks to the many outreach initiatives she drove. We thank her for positioning the Institute for success in the coming years.