VIBGYOR HIGH Aces the Test
Things got off to a rocky start at an education-based company in India as they confronted a hair-raising workload. Trying to meet aggressive deadlines, manage the complexity of all the work, and keep enrollment numbers steady seemed almost too much to ask. A team of SMART Project Delivery experts from Realization helped the company meet its goals.
VIBGYOR HIGH is one of India’s leading educational institutions. Under the leadership of its founder, the rapidly growing VIBGYOR Group has opened 39 schools in 14 major cities with over 55,000 students.
At the close of this decade, VIBGYOR was managing an extraordinary workload. They had six new schools coming up in different cities. They also had significant renovation and expansion work for 39 existing schools. Like most construction projects, school construction is often plagued by project management challenges. Chaos in an educational environment is especially painful. Delayed openings. Disarray. And worst of all, the potential loss of new admissions.
The work got off to a poor start and soon fell behind schedule. The impact was immediate. Admissions dropped as a number of prospective students opted for other schools. VIBGYOR managed to open several schools that weren’t fully ready. After the openings came a mad rush to finish (‘firefighting’ in project management language) that went on for weeks.
In June 2019, VIBGYOR reached out to Realization for help. The company quickly put a team together and created a Project Delivery Office to help manage VIBGYOR’s slate of new construction and expansion projects. The chairman of VIBGYOR High had outlined his key objectives:
- Complete the Admissions / Front Office areas for all six schools by September 2019 to facilitate the admissions process.
- Finish all six schools by April 2020 to start the school year by June 2020.
- By April 2020, build out infrastructure on 39 existing schools to accommodate more students.
- To ensure a smooth construction process, get all designs, drawings, materials, manpower in place and ready for another 12 new schools by April 2020.
What the feasibility study showed
To properly lay the groundwork, the Realization team ran a feasibility analysis looking at six new schools for 2020-2021. The analysis would reveal what they could achieve, and what specific challenges would need to be dealt with. A week later the team reported back to VIBGYOR’s chairman:
- If they took on all six schools, it was likely none would finish. And by taking on all six, they would likely spend all the funds allocated for construction.
- There was significant work pending. No construction or procurement had begun; and the design work was only one-quarter finished. Monsoon season was also just around the corner.
- SMART Project Delivery revealed that with good planning and execution, they could deliver four schools on time. Six was a possibility with an aggressive plan and management involvement. It would still be risky.
Management moved ahead with six schools instead of eight. Four schools in the first tranche. This would be followed by another two, only if initial progress on the first four went according to the aggressive plan.
How Realization solved VIBGYOR’s challengesINTEGRATING ALL DEPARTMENTS FOR ALL SCHOOLS
The Project Delivery Office—the two project managers working alongside the six SMART Project Delivery experts, created project plans that integrated the work of all departments for all the schools. VIBGYOR went live with all the plans within a week. They planned each project as two phases: full kitting and execution.FULL KITTING
Enabled by SMART Project Delivery software, full kitting was about ensuring absolute readiness for executing the work. One full kitting point was for the front offices; a second full kitting point was for rest of the school. All decisions, designs and orders for front offices were released within a month of the setup. The rest of the decisions, designs and orders were released gradually in the following two months.EXECUTION
On the execution side, the Realization team helped set up a management process for fast response to early warning signals from the SMART Project Delivery software. There was a 20 to 30-minute daily issue resolution meeting at each site. And a weekly one-hour review with the chairman, Mr. Kerawalla, to resolve any pending issues and approvals. The daily meeting at each site also addressed readiness for upcoming tasks.
“For us, missing our delivery milestone translates to a one-year delay. This year was big: open six schools against the usual two to three. Acting on SMART Project Delivery’s SMART scheduling, and forward-looking alerts, we are about to deliver all six projects on time. An even bigger expansion plan is slated for next year.” RUSTOM KERAWALLA
Chairman, Vibgyor Group of Schools
Results: Six schools built on time
For the academic year 2020-21, the front offices were fully ready on time for six schools. Six had been the most aggressive target. The teams had originally started on four schools, but during the construction process and with the pace of full kitting closure, the Realization team pushed to take on the other two, especially since the funds were in place. As a result, admissions rose 20% over previous years. All six schools were projected to finish on time in April 2020. They also project the renovation and expansion work on 39 existing schools to finish on time in April 2020.
For the academic year 2021-22, the full kitting work is running behind by 30-45 days. That’s because 2020-21 projects were given priority for financial outlay and management time. However, the management team has an action plan for, and is confident of recovering some of this delay during full kitting and the rest during construction.