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Projectizing the 2014 Dream Plan

/ 05:02 AM September 29, 2019

A recent Inquirer editorial revisited the “Dream Plan” for easing Metro Manila traffic and congestion formulated in 2014 with support from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (Jica) and adopted by the National Economic and Development Authority or Neda. Unfortunately, said the editorial, “the government either shelved some parts of it and then tinkered with others, thereby weakening the entire scheme.”

Before such changes were introduced, the 2014 Dream Plan originally consisted of short-, medium- and long-term projects up to 2030. These focused on “traffic congestion, households living in hazardous conditions, seamless mobility barriers, excessive cost burden for low income groups and air pollution.” Among its notable components were the planned Clark-Calamba North-South Commuter Train and the Mindanao Avenue NLEx-Taguig ITX-Naia Subway, as well as alt-grade urban roads, traffic management, and the bus and jeepney modernization programs.

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Transportation Secretary Art Tugade must have inadvertently given the impression that the 2014 Dream Plan is nonexistent, hence, Sen. Grace Poe’s expressed frustration during a recent Senate hearing: “They could have huddled over a traffic plan. That’s all that I’ve been asking for, a traffic plan and a transportation plan which they did not submit.”

Drawing from the gold standard on project management also known as the PMBOK (Project Management Book of Knowledge), here are four points to help our Department of Transportation (DOTr) and other concerned agencies projectize the Dream Plan.  While these are meant for managing a project, the thought process could also apply to masterplans and megaprojects.

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The devil is in the details. Einstein once remarked that if he was given 60 minutes to solve a problem, he would use 55 minutes to understand it. The high-level Project Charter and the more detailed Project Management Plan of the 2014 Dream Plan could be the DOTr’s 55 minutes.  Both presuppose extensive research and consultation to determine the integration, scope, schedule, cost, resources, quality, risk, resources, communication and stakeholder requirements of the Dream Plan. Perhaps the DOTr could use these templates to provide more granularity to each component of the Dream Plan.

Manage the change or it will manage you. Perform Integrated Change Control is a process that “allows for documented changes within the project to be considered in an integrated manner while addressing overall project risk, which often arises from changes without consideration of the overall project objectives or plans.” The DOTr could work with both Jica and Neda to disclose the differences between the 2014 version of the Dream Plan and its 2019 variant (is there?). Such changes could then be submitted to a Change Control Board that reviews, approves, records and communicates project changes to the public, the ultimate stakeholder.

We’re all in this together. While the 2014 Dream Plan involved the Neda, DOTr, Department of Public Works and Highways, Metropolitan Manila Development Authority and the private sector, missing in the list were the drivers, commuters and pedestrians who stewed in traffic daily. But they are the most crucial stakeholders, defined as “an individual, group, or organization that may affect, be affected by, or perceive itself to be affected by a decision, activity, or outcome of the project.” For the Plan to work, it needs to be augmented with a Stakeholder Analysis and a Stakeholder Engagement Plan designed to enlist genuine and meaningful stakeholder involvement.

People, above all. My most jarring experience when I first visited New York was riding a cab that trailed a Mercedes-Benz. Five minutes into my ride, the Benz driver casually threw a crushed beer can into the street. What good is world-class infrastructure given such backward behavior? The process of modernizing our infrastructure is only as good as the process of fostering the behavioral transformation of our drivers and commuters. This may be why the Project Management Institute is replacing its process-centric certification exam with one that also focuses on leading people. Indeed, “no one puts new wine into old wineskins… one puts new wine into fresh wineskins.” (Matt 9:16)

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Von Katindoy volunteers with the Project Management Institute Philippines Chapter and teaches at Ateneo de Manila University.

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TAGS: 2014 Dream Plan, Inquirer Commentary, JICA, Metro Manila traffic, NEDA, Von Katindoy
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