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Training (or not) for Sustainability

There are many ways to measure the success of a project: Was the project completed on time? Did it come in on or under budget? Was the expected throughput or volume achieved? Are the results sustainable? There will be more specific success requirements listed each individual project’s success criteria but the ones listed above will pertain to every project.

As a Startup Manager, emphasis is typically placed on timeliness, budget, and initial throughput. These are very important but the Company’s Return On Investment (ROI) is vested in the two or three year sustainability of the throughput of the project. Therefore the project’s final success also rests on sustainability.

Sustainability is dependent on two factors: the quality of the equipment purchased and the ability of the personnel to operate and maintain the equipment in the correct manner. The Startup Manager typically has little to no input on the equipment design or which equipment was selected. Their responsibility concerning the equipment is the proper installation and testing of the equipment. Their responsibility however does encompass the training of the operators and maintenance personnel to ensure they have knowledge and ability to operate and maintain the equipment.

In the area of training, the Startup Manager’s responsibilities include:


-        ensure the vendors and plant personnel are aware of the contractual requirements regarding training

-        determine with the vendors the amount of classroom and hands on training required

-        coordinate with the plant to ensure space, materials, and equipment for training are available

-        ensure any vendor special

-        take roll call and monitor training

-        coordinate with trainer on any deficiencies or issues with trainees

-        coordinate with trainer on the design of quizzes and final testing evaluations

If truly effective training is held (and the equipment is durable) then sustainability should be obtained. It has been my experience the vendors are eager to train the operators and maintenance personnel because they want to have their equipment operate efficiently and be reliable.

I have found the biggest obstacle to having effective training is having the plant provide the correct personnel to be trained. The plant is typically running lean, meaning they do not have the available personnel to be trained. When pressed, they send personnel to the training who will not be working on the production line and send different personnel to subsequent training. This ensures efficiency and ROI will not be obtained.

It is the responsibility of the Startup Manager to ensure the plant is aware of the dangers of not providing the correct personnel for training. I believe this is the biggest and most difficult obstacle for project management to overcome.

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