Last summer, when I first wrote a list of all the tasks we would need to do after the Centre was handed over from the contractor and before we could open it, it felt a very long way off and a bit unreal. Now that we are a few weeks from opening to the public it has proved very worthwhile to have planned ahead.
Over the following few months the Project Team discussed and refined the list. We grouped it according to tasks that could be done 'pre- handover 'such as choosing furniture, planning the displays, signage and wayfinding and what was needed to install all of this once we had possession of the site. When we were happy that everything was included the tasks were entered onto a Project Plan spreadsheet in Microsoft Project with start and end dates for each one and the names of those who were responsible for carrying them out. It ran to more than 10 pages of A3 and although it looked incredibly daunting at first it has allowed us to monitor progress, to see how the different tasks impact on one another and to ensure that people and resources are available when they are needed. This has been an invaluable planning tool for the past year.
Inevitably the dates have slipped and been adjusted several times and there have been delays in the construction process which have meant constant amendments. However the existence of the Project Plan has made us feel much more confident when these things have happened and has helped us to get back on track each time there has been a setback.
Now that we are beginning the installation part of the plan we know that all those involved have completed the 'pre - handover' tasks and have planned for the next stage. The effectiveness of the Project Plan is about to be severely put to the test over the next three weeks. Originally we had allocated six weeks to move everything into the Centre and to test and pilot equipment and operating systems. Because of delays on site we will now actually have little more than two. We have to be ready to open to the public on July 18 for a young peoples' conference and exhibition called Image and Identity. Let's hope the Plan works!