| Project Management
| 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.
2. Organizing for Project Management
2.1 What is Project Management?
The management of construction projects requires knowledge of modern management as well as an understanding of the design and construction process. Construction projects have a specific set of objectives and constraints such as a required time frame for completion. While the relevant technology, institutional arrangements or processes will differ, the management of such projects has much in common with the management of similar types of projects in other specialty or technology domains such as aerospace, pharmaceutical and energy developments.
Generally, project management is distinguished from the general management of corporations by the mission-oriented nature of a project. A project organization will generally be terminated when the mission is accomplished. According to the Project Management Institute, the discipline of project management can be defined as follows:
|3. The Design and Construction Process
3.1 Design and Construction as an Integrated System
In the planning of facilities, it is important to recognize the close relationship between design and construction. These processes can best be viewed as an integrated system. Broadly speaking, design is a process of creating the description of a new facility, usually represented by detailed plans and specifications; construction planning is a process of identifying activities and resources required to make the design a physical reality. Hence, construction is the implementation of a design envisioned by architects and engineers. In both design and construction, numerous operational tasks must be performed with a variety of precedence and other relationships among the different tasks.
Several characteristics are unique to the planning of constructed facilities and should be kept in mind even at the very early stage of the project life cycle. These include the following:
In an integrated system, the planning for both design and construction can proceed almost simultaneously, examining various alternatives which are desirable from both viewpoints and thus eliminating the necessity of extensive revisions under the guise of value engineering.
|4. Equipment Utilization
4.1 Historical Perspective
Good project management in construction must vigorously pursue the efficient utilization of labor, material and equipment. Improvement of labor productivity should be a major and continual concern of those who are responsible for cost control of constructed facilities. Material handling, which includes procurement, inventory, shop fabrication and field servicing, requires special attention for cost reduction. The use of new equipment and innovative methods has made possible wholesale changes in construction technologies in recent decades. Organizations which do not recognize the impact of various innovations and have not adapted to changing environments have justifiably been forced out of the mainstream of construction activities.
|5. Cost Estimation
5.1 Costs Associated with Constructed Facilities
The costs of a constructed facility to the owner include both the initial capital cost and the subsequent operation and maintenance costs. Each of these major cost categories consists of a number of cost components.
The capital cost for a construction project includes the expenses related to the inital establishment of the facility:
The operation and maintenance cost in subsequent years over the project life cycle includes the following expenses:
The magnitude of each of these cost components depends on the nature, size and location of the project as well as the management organization, among many considerations. The owner is interested in achieving the lowest possible overall project cost that is consistent with its investment objectives.
|6. Economic Evaluation of Facility Investments
6.1 Project Life Cycle and Economic Feasibility
Facility investment decisions represent major commitments of corporate resources and have serious consequences on the profitability and financial stability of a corporation. In the public sector, such decisions also affect the viability of facility investment programs and the credibility of the agency in charge of the programs. It is important to evaluate facilities rationally with regard to both the economic feasibility of individual projects and the relative net benefits of alternative and mutually exclusive projects.
This chapter will present an overview of the decision process for economic evaluation of facilities with regard to the project life cycle.
|7. Financing of Constructed Facilities
7.1 The Financing Problem
Investment in a constructed facility represents a cost in the short term that returns benefits only over the long term use of the facility. Thus, costs occur earlier than the benefits, and owners of facilities must obtain the capital resources to finance the costs of construction. A project cannot proceed without adequate financing, and the cost of providing adequate financing can be quite large. For these reasons, attention to project finance is an important aspect of project management. Finance is also a concern to the other organizations involved in a project such as the general contractor and material suppliers. Unless an owner immediately and completely covers the costs incurred by each participant, these organizations face financing problems of their own.
At a more general level, project finance is only one aspect of the general problem of corporate finance. If numerous projects are considered and financed together, then the net cash flow requirements constitutes the corporate financing problem for capital investment. Whether project finance is performed at the project or at the corporate level does not alter the basic financing problem.
8. Construction Pricing and Contracting
8.1 Pricing for Constructed Facilities
Because of the unique nature of constructed facilities, it is almost imperative to have a separate price for each facility. The construction contract price includes the direct project cost including field supervision expenses plus the markup imposed by contractors for general overhead expenses and profit. The factors influencing a facility price will vary by type of facility and location as well. Within each of the major categories of construction such as residential housing, commercial buildings, industrial complexes and infrastructure, there are smaller segments which have very different environments with regard to price setting. However, all pricing arrangements have some common features in the form of the legal documents binding the owner and the supplier(s) of the facility. Without addressing special issues in various industry segments, the most common types of pricing arrangements can be described broadly to illustrate the basic principles.
The basic structure of the bidding process consists of the formulation of detailed plans and specifications of a facility based on the objectives and requirements of the owner, and the invitation of qualified contractors to bid for the right to execute the project. The definition of a qualified contractor usually calls for a minimal evidence of previous experience and financial stability. In the private sector, the owner has considerable latitude in selecting the bidders, ranging from open competition to the restriction of bidders to a few favored contractors. In the public sector, the rules are carefully delineated to place all qualified contractors on an equal footing for competition, and strictly enforced to prevent collusion among contractors and unethical or illegal actions by public officials.
Detailed plans and specifications are usually prepared by an architectural/engineering firm which oversees the bidding process on behalf of the owner. The final bids are normally submitted on either a lump sum or unit price basis, as stipulated by the owner. A lump sum bid represents the total price for which a contractor offers to complete a facility according to the detailed plans and specifications.
|9. Construction Planning
9.1 Basic Concepts in the Development of Construction Plans
Construction planning is a fundamental and challenging activity in the management and execution of construction projects. It involves the choice of technology, the definition of work tasks, the estimation of the required resources and durations for individual tasks, and the identification of any interactions among the different work tasks. A good construction plan is the basis for developing the budget and the schedule for work. Developing the construction plan is a critical task in the management of construction, even if the plan is not written or otherwise formally recorded. In addition to these technical aspects of construction planning, it may also be necessary to make organizational decisions about the relationships between project participants and even which organizations to include in a project. For example, the extent to which sub-contractors will be used on a project is often determined during construction planning.
|10. Fundamental Scheduling Procedures
10.1 Relevance of Construction Schedules
In addition to assigning dates to project activities, project scheduling is intended to match the resources of equipment, materials and labor with project work tasks over time. Good scheduling can eliminate problems due to production bottlenecks, facilitate the timely procurement of necessary materials, and otherwise insure the completion of a project as soon as possible. In contrast, poor scheduling can result in considerable waste as laborers and equipment wait for the availability of needed resources or the completion of preceding tasks. Delays in the completion of an entire project due to poor scheduling can also create havoc for owners who are eager to start using the constructed facilities.
Attitudes toward the formal scheduling of projects are often extreme. Many owners require detailed construction schedules to be submitted by contractors as a means of monitoring the work progress. The actual work performed is commonly compared to the schedule to determine if construction is proceeding satisfactorily. After the completion of construction, similar comparisons between the planned schedule and the actual accomplishments may be performed to allocate the liability for project delays due to changes requested by the owner, worker strikes or other unforeseen circumstances.
In contrast to these instances of reliance upon formal schedules, many field supervisors disdain and dislike formal scheduling procedures. In particular, the critical path method of scheduling is commonly required by owners and has been taught in universities for over two decades, but is often regarded in the field as irrelevant to actual operations and a time consuming distraction. The result is "seat-of-the-pants" scheduling that can be good or that can result in grossly inefficient schedules and poor productivity. Progressive construction firms use formal scheduling procedures whenever the complexity of work tasks is high and the coordination of different workers is required.
Formal scheduling procedures have become much more common with the advent of personal computers on construction sites and easy-to-use software programs. Sharing schedule information via the Internet has also provided a greater incentive to use formal scheduling methods.
|11. Advanced Scheduling Techniques
11.1 Use of Advanced Scheduling Techniques
Construction project scheduling is a topic that has received extensive research over a number of decades. The previous chapter described the fundamental scheduling techniques widely used and supported by numerous commercial scheduling systems. A variety of special techniques have also been developed to address specific circumstances or problems. With the availability of more powerful computers and software, the use of advanced scheduling techniques is becoming easier and of greater relevance to practice. In this chapter, we survey some of the techniques that can be employed in this regard. These techniques address some important practical problems, such as:
A final section in the chapter describes some possible improvements in the project scheduling process. In Chapter 14, we consider issues of computer based implementation of scheduling procedures, particularly in the context of integrating scheduling with other project management procedures.
|12. Cost Control, Monitoring and Accounting
12.1 The Cost Control Problem
During the execution of a project, procedures for project control and record keeping become indispensable tools to managers and other participants in the construction process. These tools serve the dual purpose of recording the financial transactions that occur as well as giving managers an indication of the progress and problems associated with a project. The problems of project control are aptly summed up in an old definition of a project as "any collection of vaguely related activities that are ninety percent complete, over budget and late." The task of project control systems is to give a fair indication of the existence and the extent of such problems.
In this chapter, we consider the problems associated with resource utilization, accounting, monitoring and control during a project. In this discussion, we emphasize the project management uses of accounting information
|13. Quality Control and Safety During Construction
13.1 Quality and Safety Concerns in Construction
Quality control and safety represent increasingly important concerns for project managers. Defects or failures in constructed facilities can result in very large costs. Even with minor defects, re-construction may be required and facility operations impaired. Increased costs and delays are the result. In the worst case, failures may cause personal injuries or fatalities. Accidents during the construction process can similarly result in personal injuries and large costs. Indirect costs of insurance, inspection and regulation are increasing rapidly due to these increased direct costs. Good project managers try to ensure that the job is done right the first time and that no major accidents occur on the project.
As with cost control, the most important decisions regarding the quality of a completed facility are made during the design and planning stages rather than during construction. It is during these preliminary stages that component configurations, material specifications and functional performance are decided. Quality control during construction consists largely of insuring conformance to these original design and planning decisions.
|14. Organization and Use of Project Information
14.1 Types of Project Information
Construction projects inevitably generate enormous and complex sets of information. Effectively managing this bulk of information to insure its availability and accuracy is an important managerial task. Poor or missing information can readily lead to project delays, uneconomical decisions, or even the complete failure of the desired facility. Pity the owner and project manager who suddenly discover on the expected delivery date that important facility components have not yet been fabricated and cannot be delivered for six months! With better information, the problem could have been identified earlier, so that alternative suppliers might have been located or schedules arranged. Both project design and control are crucially dependent upon accurate and timely information, as well as the ability to use this information effectively. At the same time, too much unorganized information presented to managers can result in confusion and paralysis of decision making.
|by Chris Hendrickson, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering,
Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA l52l3 Copyright C. Hendrickson