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Our infrastructure future depends on leadership thinking now. New York can make it happen. Image: Tomoyuki Tanaka

The current State of Emergency declared by Governor Cuomo for New York City’s transit system is a serious problem for every business in this great city. With 6 million daily riders dependent on our system, it must function reliably to maintain New York as the leading business center in the world. Assigning Joe Lhota as the new chairman and providing $1B in new funding opens many opportunities to improve system performance. The MTA will need to address critical gaps in operability, maintenance, finance, staffing, and service, as well as correct current deficiencies system-wide.

As a suggestion, given that the MTA ordered a complete top to bottom organizational review, the Project Management Institute (PMI) has a tool available for the purpose. The Operational Project Management Maturity Model (OPM3) contains a warehouse of tools, techniques, templates, etc. for evaluating similar situations and creating change management plans.

The Project Management Institute is a global organization with 2.9 million professionals working to improve organizational success around the world. Its members are in leadership roles on large infrastructure projects that include the New NY Bridge and many MTA Capital Plan projects. It is the leading professional membership association for the project management profession. Their professional resources and research deliver value to improve organizational successes. PMI offers globally recognized standard certification programs. The PMP certification program maintains ISO 9001 accreditation, which focuses on quality management and ensures that products and services consistently meet customer’s requirements, and quality is consistently improved.

In order to get the OPM3 evaluation started, a Program Manager would need to be assigned, given the breadth of the work to be carried out. Once a strategic plan has been completed, and a team assembled, a review of all issues can start. The project plan would follow the steps below:

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  • Step 1: Prepare for Assessment
  • Step 2: Perform Assessment
  • Step 3: Plan for Improvement
  • Step 4: Implement Improvement
  • Step 5: Repeat the Process (PMI, 2003 p. 36)

Critical tools to use during this process include root cause and risk analysis. Another goal would be to determine the 20% of issues causing 80% of the problems. Focusing on these issues will help to prioritize tasks and make the best use of resources. Many issues are complex and resolutions will impact commuters. Careful planning is critical and must include the impact on riders and safety for workers implementing the changes. It might also be helpful to bring in engineers and managers that have been involved in building some of the transit systems in the US and around the world.

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Lastly, organizations across the planet undertake hundreds of billions of dollars worth of projects annually, and a high percentage of these projects fail. Good leadership that communicates and inspires is a key factor in completing projects successfully and ensuring that results are aligned with business goals. A report from the President of PMI presents details in a 2016 PMI Survey on project management success factors.

This is an opportunity to start building a 21st Century transportation system that benefits from the latest 21st Century technology, project management and organizational knowledge. The changes will not happen overnight, but the final results will ensure that New York City remains a leading global business center.

Respectfully submitted,

David A. Brezler, MPA, PMP is a Assistant Project Manager, PMO

John Conti, PMP is a former Sr. IT Infrastructure Project/Program Manager for MTA IT

Clark Webb, PMP is a former MTA Senior Project Manager, IT Procurement specialist and Bus Liaison

#Infrastructure #MTA #OPM3 #NYC #Transportation

Leadership is hard. If it was easy, everyone would do it.

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