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Construction projects – part 1



General

The PRINCE2® [see ‘The Complete Project Management plus PRINCE2’] methodology is not confined to any particular industry it will apply to construction, information technology and any others.

This section is designed to show some general aspects of project management within the construction industry.

For additional detail you should read specific books on the sector or attend specific courses.

You will find here some techniques that the small business or individual may find useful.
How you apply the techniques will also depend upon the size of the project.
Larger companies often have set formal procedures that follow similar basic principles.

Remember that earlier we pointed out that many projects may have similar phases but give those phases alternative names.
This is quite common in particular sectors where years of experience has broken down the project into specific sections which are well understood and accepted within the industry.
We have tried to highlight this with the construction industry but the principle will equally apply to other areas.

The comments here generally cover building projects but might equally apply to civil engineering works projects which concentrate on environmental features, for example, roads, dams and airports.
Due to the nature of environmental projects, they often require greater flexibility and may need higher contingencies.

Many inexperienced contractors may tend to favour ‘guestimates’ instead of properly derived estimates.
If is easy to focus on the technical aspects and give less time to the financial side.
Overestimation of costs can easily lose a contract whereas under estimation can lead to gaining a contract and working at a loss.

Those involved

Contractor

The contractor must first realise that he or she does not work in a vacuum but with the help of others.
The main partners will be the Client, the Consultant and the Supplier.

The contractor, consultant and supplier usually run their own businesses whereas the client is often in the public sector.

It is very important that the contractor does their job well otherwise there is a knock on effect that is felt by all of the others concerned.

The contractor completes the project on behalf of the client.
The work must be carried out within a specific time frame and to particular quality standards and within health and safety laws and having regard for local environmental laws and other legal framework.

It is important to make sure that projects are carried out to clear and not ambiguous standards.
This is an area where the consultant would have input.

All contractors will be trying to complete projects ahead of time to save money.
On occasion a delay will be inevitable and this may require some negotiation with the client.
In all instances of such communication keeping good records is paramount where later disagreements must be raised.

As in many areas of project management a ‘no-blame’ culture coupled with good problem solving skills will prove very useful.
In addition, good leadership skills [see 'The Complete Leadership package‘], motivational skills [see 'The Complete Motivation package‘], time management skills [see 'The Complete Time Management package‘] and a knowledge of risk management [see 'The Complete Risk Management package‘] will prove useful.

Client

This is the most important of the group.
Without a client there is no business.
They are the group, individual or government department that requests the job and will pay for it.
The work contracted can be varied in type and size.

The client may also be known as the Project Sponsor.

Consultants

This is the individual who can speak to the client and the contractor concerning the contract and other issues.

This often involves getting involved with the project design for the client, then choosing the contractor and finally helping to supervise the project’s progress. Whilst the consultant may be independent of the client project, if the client comes from the public sector, it is quite probable that the consultant will come from a department within.

A consultant has a duty to indicate to the contractor any dangerous work practices. The workforce and the public should not be in any danger.

Consultants come in a variety of packages and these might sometimes be called ‘designers’.
These may be draughtsmen, structural engineers, quantity surveyors etc.
They will prepare drawings, specifications, ‘conditions of contract’ and bills of quantities

Supplier

This person or company must make sure that goods or services arrive on time, at the correct cost and of the right quality in the right place.

Some materials can be supplied more readily than others whereas some may require a lead time.
Many materials might have a period of validity in which they must be used. This must be correct.

Whilst the supplier may be responsible for these materials it is the contractor who is accountable. Should the consultant find problems it will be the contractor who will be held accountable. In turn, the contractor may hold the supplier accountable for any financial losses.
Basically, the client and consultant deal with the contractor who deals with everybody else for the project.

The supply chain will be smoother if planning by the contractor is good, there is no ambiguity, relationships are cultivated and good, all deliveries are checked properly and payments are made promptly.

Users

The ‘user’ is the ultimate person or organization that will utilise the result of the project.
It is up to the Client to understand the need of the ‘user’ and thus provide for this when considering the project.
The Contractor is unlikely to get involved with the end user of the project.

Public authorities and agencies

As mentioned in other groups a variety of requirements must be considered.
Including local legal requirements, planning laws, health and safety etc.

The key people involved will be:

  • Contractor
  • Client
  • Consultant
  • Supplier

PRINCE2® is a Registered Trade Mark of the Office of Government Commerce in the United Kingdom and other countries.

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