Japanese agency stops funding for Bullet train project

While teaching project management it is very interesting for me to teach stakeholder management where as it is not that interesting when it is about  ‘enterprise environmental factors’. One of today’s main news item is about the stoppage funding of the bullet train project by Modi, because the project team did not address the farmers grievances (fair compensation for the farmlands lost to this project). From a professional project management perspective, this is a very interesting case which combines stakeholder management and enterprise environmental factors.

Anybody who is affected positively or negatively by doing a project or by delaying a project or by not doing a project falls into the category of project stakeholders. Any thing that can affect a project like culture, national holidays, business rules, ethics, environmental regulations, waste disposal norms, working hours, trade union norms are all examples of enterprise environmental factors.   It will be very interesting to identify the key stakeholders of this bullet train project, and analyze how the enterprise environmental factors affect the decision making and stakeholder management.

Business today link 

National Herald

India times 

Lessons from a crowdfunding social service project

We started a crowdfunding project to construct a home for a family whose house got washed away during the Kerala floods 2018. This was our first experience in a crowdfunding project. Here are the lessons we learnt out of this project. 

Credibility of the idea and the promoters are the key success factors for every crowdfunding project.

Credibility of the promoters is the most difficult to achieve. It has to be built over a long period of credible track record.

During execution phase of the project, trust of all the stakeholders have to be built by bringing in absolute transparency of the project (funding, expenses, project progress, project risks, forecasts of time and cost). This is achieved through continuous communication. We used whats-app group, facebook page and the wordpress blog for this purpose.

Probability of scope creep is much higher in crowd funding projects, as the expectations of the beneficiaries escalate during the project execution, when they understand that it is funded by multiple people , hence the illusion that there is plenty of money.

There has to be a key project manager, who owns the entire project, and accountable to the sponsors.

For one of our projects, we started raising funds from people. Then another sponsor who was willing to sponsor the entire project turned up, scuttling our initiative to generate public interest in the project. In fact we started receiving donations for this project and we had to get the permission from the donors to use the funds for another similar project. Getting a single sponsor is good for the beneficiary and at the same time it is a risk for crowd funding.

Ensure that the beneficiary have not sought / applied or is eligible for any alternative funding, before going for crowd funding. Other wise it will lead to point 6. Sometimes we will be preventing a better opportunity (funding) by linking them to your crowdfunding project. There are many larger sponsors out there. So please check whether the project under consideration is eligible for any other source of funding.

Funds have to be distributed against the milestone completion only. Pay it directly to the vendors and service providers. Do not entrust money to the project beneficiary, as it can be misused.

If we are constructing a new house, the risk is very low compared to demolishing an existing house, as the ownership of raising sufficient finding to complete construction falls on the project manager. In such cases, do not even start without sufficient funding required to complete the project.

In new constructions, we have the freedom to start developing and show progress as soon as funds start coming in. This in turn will generate more interest among the sponsors, resulting in better funding.

We started with one project (home for a person whose house was washed away during the floods) based on impulse and intuition. That gave us more confidence to venture into the second project, and the funnel is growing. It would have been better if we had managed it as a program, with a standard design, bill of material, budgeting and funding for the program, than for individual projects. In this case we could have raised funds against the program, instead of individual projects.

Hope to come out with more lessons learned as we progress further.

Visit the crowdfunding project web site 

Kerala floods 2018 – Our office was under flood waters

In August 2018, severe flooding affected the south Indian state of Kerala due to unusually high rainfall during the monsoon season. It was the worst flooding in Kerala in nearly a century. Over 445 people died, 15 are missing within a fortnight, while at least a million people were evacuated, mainly from Chengannur, Pandanad, Aranmula, Aluva, Chalakudy, Kuttanad and Pandalam. All 14 districts of the state were placed on red alert. According to the Kerala government, one-sixth of the total population of Kerala had been directly affected by the floods and related incidents. The Indian government had declared it a Level 3 Calamity, or “calamity of a severe nature”. It is the worst flood in Kerala after the great flood of 99 that happened in 1924.

Thirty-five out of the fifty-four dams within the state were opened for the first time in history. All five overflow gates of the Idukki Dam were opened at the same time, for the first time in 26 years.[14] Heavy rains in Wayanad and Idukki have caused severe landslides and have left the hilly districts isolated.

Courtesy – Wikipedia

 

Our office was also badly affected. Water levels rose till table height in the ground floor. Internet and telephone lines were affected. Vehicles got submersed in water. Furniture was destroyed. There was no power supply and water supply for days together. The situation is coming back to normalcy.