Project Management for Construction
1. The Owners' Perspective
Like the five blind men encountering different parts of an elephant, each of the numerous participants in the process of planning, designing, financing, constructing and operating physical facilities has a different perspective on project management for construction. Specialized knowledge can be very beneficial, particularly in large and complicated projects, since experts in various specialties can provide valuable services. However, it is advantageous to understand how the different parts of the process fit together. Waste, excessive cost and delays can result from poor coordination and communication among specialists. It is particularly in the interest of owners to insure that such problems do not occur. And it behooves all participants in the process to heed the interests of owners because, in the end, it is the owners who provide the resources and call the shots.
By adopting the viewpoint of the owners, we can focus our attention on the complete process of project management for constructed facilities rather than the historical roles of various specialists such as planners, architects, engineering designers, constructors, fabricators, material suppliers, financial analysts and others. To be sure, each specialty has made important advances in developing new techniques and tools for efficient implementation of construction projects. However, it is through the understanding of the entire process of project management that these specialists can respond more effectively to the owner's desires for their services, in marketing their specialties, and in improving the productivity and quality of their work.
The introduction of innovative and more effective project management for construction is not an academic exercise. As reported by the "Construction Industry Cost Effectiveness Project" of the Business Roundtable:
By common consensus and every available measure, the United States no longer gets it's money's worth in construction, the nation's largest industry ... The creeping erosion of construction efficiency and productivity is bad news for the entire U.S. economy. Construction is a particularly seminal industry. The price of every factory, office building, hotel or power plant that is built affects the price that must be charged for the goods or services produced in it or by it. And that effect generally persists for decades ... Too much of the industry remains tethered to the past, partly by inertia and partly by historic divisions...
Improvement of project management not only can aid the construction industry, but may also be the engine for the national and world economy. However, if we are to make meaningful improvements, we must first understand the construction industry, its operating environment and the institutional constraints affecting its activities as well as the nature of project management.