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Project management

Topics in the member's section include the following HD video presentations;

  • Procurement

  • Supply chain management

  • Ethics

  • Value management

  • Digital construction

 

What is construction project management ?

Construction project management is a mixture of hard skills such as; financial analysis, technical know-how, etc., as well as the soft skills of effective leadership, communication, delivered in the context of RIBA Plan of Work (2020) and the OGC Gateway and the project constraints illustrated below. Indeed, recently there has been increased emphasis on the so-called soft skills aspects of construction project management.

The aim of project management is to ensure that projects are completed at a given cost and within a planned time scale. Before beginning to examine how a construction project manager operates it is first necessary to take a wider look at generic project management skills and techniques.

Project management has many definitions however, it may be regarded as; the professional discipline that ensures that the management function of project delivery remains separate from the design / execution functions of a project and into these generic skills have to be interwoven the specific skills required for construction projects.

What is a project ?

A project is a temporary group activity designed to produce a unique product, service or result; in the case of construction a new or refurbished construction project, a new piece of infrastructure, etc.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

             

 

 

 

 

 

The construction project manager

Construction project management is tasked with the planning, coordination, budgeting and supervision of the construction project.

Construction project managers are responsible for the following tasks:

  • Estimating and negotiating project costs.

  • Formulating budgets and preparing feasibility studies

    • Establishing the project brief and defining client requirements

    • Preparing feasibility reports including different options

    • Preparing the business case

    • Determining funding options

  • Determining which appropriate procurement strategies.

    • The majority of work in the construction industry is won through competition,with three or four  contractors or sub-contractors submitting confidential bids.
  • Communicating with clients and stakeholders, re: budget, progress, etc.

  • Lead or interface with workers, teams and other construction professionals including; architects, quantity surveyors, engineers, etc. on technical and contract details.

  • Working with building, construction and regulatory specialists.

The project manager should be able to identify the skill set of the project team. The activities most commonly involved with construction project manager include;

 

  • Identifying and developing the client’s brief

  • Leading and managing the project teams

  • Identifying and managing project risks including;

  • Design development risks

  • Construction risks

  • Employer's change risk

        

  • Establishing communication and managing protocols

  • Managing the feasibility and strategic stages

  • Establishing the project budget and project programme

  • Co-ordinating legal and other regulatory consents

  • Advising on the selection / appointment of the project team

  • Managing the integration and flow of design information

  • Managing the preparation of design and construction programmes / schedules and critical path and            method networks

  • Advising on alternative procurement strategies

  • Whole like costs / sustainability / BREEAM

  • Establishing time, cost, quality and function control benchmark

  • Controlling, monitoring and reporting on project progress 

  • Administering consultant’s and construction contracts including agreeing scope of services

  • Project audit 

  • Post-occupancy evaluation.

BIM and the construction project manager

 

The construction project manager has been on the side-lines of BIM development, due in part to the emphasis on the use of BIM in the design process. However, the use of BIM extends beyond initial design issues. Some of the principal skills of the project manager are; collaboration, coordination and communication and therefore on the face of it, it would seem that BIM is potentially a very useful tool for project managers.

 

With BIM as a fundamental enabler for effective integration, it is crucial for project managers to understand how to harness and use it for their projects. The potential for project managers therefore appears to widen the use of BIM and to ensure that clients are aware of the value-added benefits of adopting BIM both during and after project delivery. The project manager may need to guide a client through the business case for adopting BIM and the required changes to skills, roles and responsibilities.

Ethics and the construction industry

 

There is a wide spectrum of research and models on medical ethics related matters, but comparatively little on business ethics and even less on ethics and construction and surveying practice. Never has there been such a need for individuals and organisations to be seen to be conducting themselves according to ethical principles.

 

Ethics is an important topic and particularly so for surveyors who operate in a sector that is generally perceived to have low ethical standards. Professions can only survive if the public retains confidence in them. Conducting professional activities in an ethical manner is at the heart professionalism and the trust that the general public has in professions such as the Chartered Quantity Surveyor. One of the principal reasons for construction-related institutions like the RICS is to ensure that their members operate to high ethical standards, indeed ethical standards was a top priority on the RICS Agenda for Change (1998). For quantity surveyor’s transparency and ethical behaviour is particularly important as they deal on a day-to-day basis with; procurement, contractual arrangements, payments and valuations and client’s money.

Interestingly, in a survey carried out by the Chartered Institute of Building in 2006, nearly 40% of those questioned regarded the practice of cover pricing either; ‘not very corrupt’ or ‘not corrupt at all’ regarding it as the way that the industry operates!  In addition, 41% of respondents admitted offering bribes on one or more occasions. One of the major issues from the CIOB survey is a clear lack of definition of corruption and corrupt practices. The industry is one that depends on personal relationships and yet a particular nebulous area in non-cash gifts that range from pens to free holidays.

 

The value of global construction output is expected to increase by £6.2 trillion and to reach £13.5 trillion per annum by 2030. It is difficult to precisely determine the value of losses through corruption but estimates tend to range between 10 and 30%. The experience of the Construction Sector Transparency Initiative (CoST) suggests that a similar amount could be lost through mismanagement and inefficiency. This means that by 2030, unless measures are introduced that effectively improve this situation, close to £4.5 trillion could be lost annually through corruption, mismanagement and inefficiency. So, what is it that makes the construction industry so corrupt? The Global Infrastructure Anti-Corruption Centre has identified 13 features that make construction particularly prone to corruption which includes:

1. Uniqueness: No two construction projects are the same making comparisons difficult and providing opportunities to inflate costs and conceal bribes.

2. Complex transaction chains: The delivery of infrastructure involves many professional disciplines and tradespeople and numerous contractual relationships that make control measures difficult to implement.

3. Work is concealed or covered up :therefore materials and workmanship are often hidden, e.g., steel reinforcing is cast in concrete, masonry is covered with plaster and cables and pipes enclosed in service ducts.

4. Official bureaucracy: Numerous approvals are required from government in the form of licenses and permits at various stages of the delivery cycle, each one providing an opportunity for bribery.

5. The scale of infrastructure investments: Investments in economic infrastructure such as dams, airports and railways can cost tens of billions of dollars making it easier to conceal bribes and inflate claims.

Recently the RICS has published a number of guides / documents to help surveyors find their way through the ethical maze, these are;

 

  • Professional ethics guidance note (2000)

  • Professional ethics guidance note (2003) – Case studies

  • The Ethics decision tree

  • The Global Professional and Ethical Standards

  • RICS Core Values (2006)

  • RICS Rules of Conduct for Members (2007)

  • RICS Rules of Conduct for Firms (2007)

  • Fraud in Construction – Follow the money – 2009

  • Fraud in construction – RICS Guidance 2010

  • Conflict of interest (2017)

  • Countering money laundering (2019)

 

In addition to the above the RICS has a dedicated web page available on the RICS web site where the following standards are listed and explained;

 

There are five standards:

 

• Act with integrity

• Always provide a high standard of service

• Act in a way that promotes trust in the profession

• Treat others with respect

• Take responsibility.

 

Although the list above appears to be straight forward, things are never quite that simple in practice when matters such as economic survival and competition added into the mix. The position is even more complicated when operating in countries outside the UK where ideas of ethics may be very different to those expected by the RICS.

The above topics and much more are discussed on www.duncancartlidgeonline.com