CD-4 and my daughter's wedding
Many of the DOE orders that we follow in our contract contain a prescriptive framework on how to deal with a variety of issues from health and safety to conduct of operations to project management. For those of us who deal with these orders day in and day out, it is all too easy to fit the world outside the laboratory to the same framework. Hence the title of this column on the DOE Project of Management Order 413.3 and my daughter's wedding.
For some the idea of carrying the framework outside the laboratory to our daily lives may appear to be a kind of mental disorder, some kind of post-DOE stress syndrome. But sometimes there are real advantages in doing so. For instance, the safety practices we adhere to in the laboratory have made many of my activities outside the laboratory considerably safer. More generally, when you apply the framework elsewhere you learn two things. The first is that it actually can be quite useful in the real world. The second is that, generally speaking, the framework is no more than good practices and common sense, albeit a kind of rigid common sense. But back to my daughter's wedding...
The first key decision contained in DOE Order 413.3, called CD-0, is "mission need." This was easily established. All the research was done, the young couple having been happy together for a number of years. In fact, they had kept their parents in suspended animation wishing they would formalize what to all seemed a great union.
The next key decision is CD-1, the approval of "alternatives and cost range." There was no question of alternatives. It was like asking: where are you going to build the next HEP facility if not Fermilab? It was quickly decided the wedding would be at our vineyard in California - a venue completely unprepared for 200 guests, but where the wedding of her older brother successfully took place. The management plan was very simple: let Mom do it. Always a key to successful projects is getting the right project manager.
Next is CD-2, the approval of the precise scope and baseline budget. Here I must confess we used more of a European style than a DOE style. We defined the scope rather precisely, ran on a rigid schedule since CD-4 had to be completed the night before the wedding, but budgeting was done more on the style of the LHC project where you build to scope and if you need more money you go to the bank. We appreciated our children's practicality when they gave up on the idea of roasting a whole pig on site the day of the wedding and settled on bringing in a whole pig instead, already cooked.
CD-3 is the approval to really start spending money. Contracts went out to the many vendors, delivery schedules were worked out and job distributions were given to family members. It was great to have someone define my job instead of what I usually do; specifically I was to light up the garden, help my son assemble the dance floor and make soothing remarks when needed.
Finally CD-4, the approval of operations, came with the wedding rehearsal and the completion of an extensive punch list - everything was ready to go the evening before. Fortunately everything worked out well, and the bit of redundancy we built in, just like in any project, saved the day when the first thing the band did was to blow out the GFI-circuit we had given them.