Critical Factors Affecting Project Performance Construction Essay

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Although the client is an important stakeholder in a construction project, the project manager has overall responsibility to organise and complete the project for the client on time and within budget, whilst maintaining quality standards. Moreover, the relationship between the project manager and the client remains important throughout the project's timescale, and effective communication is critically important, so that the client fully understands how the project will be organised and what responsibilities the project team will undertake. Therefore, the project manager needs to ensure that the client's requirements are fully met, and that the client has a clear overview of the project and the team appointed to complete this.

For the purposes of this assignment, I am the project manager for a construction project, but to receive confirmation from the client I need to undertake an exercise to qualify for this position. The client re quires a report that analyses factors that are likely to affect the performance of the project, and this assignment represents my report findings that demonstrate my knowledge and experience of project management, and how these will overcome problems and ensure that appropriate procedures and techniques of project management will lead to the successful completion of the project, and that this level of performance will be replicated in projects in the future.

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Therefore, this report will be structured by first examining what factors are likely to affect a project's performance. Subsequently, a case study of Heathrow Airport Terminal 5 will be assessed and analysed to provide an example of a construction project that was successful. The report will then conclude by reflecting on the findings of this assignment from reviewing the literature on the subject, and then make suggestions of methods that could be adopted to complete a construction project successfully.

Success may be defined differently in construction projects based on technology issues, the client's perception of design possibilities, the size of the project, the scope of services encompassed and the stakeholders. However, success criteria demonstrates a common pattern in the construction industry, as success is mainly dependent on the client's, design team's and contractor's perceptions and expectations. Therefore, the client measures success by the following elements:

The Terminal 5 project at Heathrow Airport was considered to be successful as it met high standards for safety and quality, remained within budget and was completed on time, and met all its objectives. Nevertheless, this was the largest project for construction in Europe at that time, and its successful completion is credited to the client, BAA that used a procurement method that was unique, retained all financial risks, offered incentives to suppliers by rewarding best practice and invested in leadership and communication skills of the project team. The client also established relationships with stakeholders that were mutually dependent, contributing to team building, and promoted commitment to the project at all levels of the supply chain.

Methods

Construction projects are now more complex and clients have higher expectations, so success needs to avoid failure leading to lost revenue, goals not achieved, resources diverted from other activities and low employee morale. Therefore, to achieve a successful project such as Terminal 5, the following methods described by Robert (1990) may be followed:

4.1 Commitment of stakeholders and managers

Senior managers and stakeholders need to be committed to the project as they are the main beneficiaries, but these benefits need to clearly demonstrated and sustainable in terms of technical and business objectives. Moreover, senior managers need to sustain their commitment throughout the project, which relies on effective communication to inform about risks, events and developments.

4.2 Objectives, goals and scope

The areas and processes affected by the project are defined as its scope, which needs to be clearly understood by all stakeholders; therefore, the scope of the project should not be changed without the client's approval, which will also require new estimates of costs and new plans.

The goals of the project are normally determined by the client, but these need to be communicated clearly to the project team, and particularly the project manager. Therefore, once the goals are clear, the project manager can establish the technical and business objectives of the project that will contribute to meeting these goals, which will inform the detailed planning for the project.

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Furthermore, changes to the project's organisation are likely if the project has a long timescale, and these changes need to be managed effectively, so that the client's expectations continue to be met. However, the organisation needs to demonstrate that it is capable of completing the project, and that the goals, objectives and scope are realistic.

4.3 Written Plans

All projects need a written plan that describe how it will be divided into separate elements, what activities will take place in each element and who has responsibility for these activities. The plans should estimate the length of time for each element of the project, start and finish dates and describe the product of each element, as well as defining the overall budget for the project. Moreover, plans need to be appropriate to the size of the project, so for a small project the plans may be written on one sheet of paper with dates, names and product outcomes. However, a software program is normally adopted for large-scale projects as plans will need to include methods of managing costs, schedule dates, responsibilities, tasks and activities and project elements.

4.4 Resources and teamwork

Most projects have significant human resource implications, as many people are often involved, including outside agencies, advisors, suppliers, consultants, financial and administrative staff, technical staff, as well as end users. Moreover, these create possible risks and responsibilities that need to be managed effectively. Furthermore, other resources need careful management, such as training staff, managing change, conflict management, provision of machinery, plant and hardware and financial management. Therefore, an experienced project manager needs to persuade the project team and stakeholders to work together effectively and with commitment.

4.5 Communications

The project manager needs to communicate effectively with the project team and stakeholders, who should not appear to be isolated from the project environment. This is particularly important, as all stakeholders need to understand the client's expectations of the project's outcomes. Therefore, good communications are needed throughout the project, but are particularly important when the project is near to completion, so that the client is prepared to use the new construction. Furthermore, it may be necessary to communicate with the client's staff who will use the completed construction, or to communicate with the public by advertising or creating focus groups.

4.6 Suppliers and Sub-contractors

Many projects need to consider the risks and dependencies posed by consultants, sub-contractors and suppliers. Therefore, the project manager needs to establish requirements from suppliers that are clearly specified and meet performance standards, so that products or systems meet design, development and delivery schedules. Suppliers need to be regularly monitored by the project manager for performance standards, but suppliers may also be dependent on other suppliers and sub-contractors. Therefore, these dependencies need to be managed effectively and monitored regularly.

The project manager needs to ensure simple processes for control are adopted to check that performance schedules are being met and that products and outcomes meet expected standards. This may be achieved through regular meetings to review progress, with a clear agenda to agree and document decisions on key elements, and that various products can be evaluated and verified at measureable milestones. Formal reports on the project's progress need to be made on a regular basis to the project team and to stakeholders. Furthermore, to ensure the quality standards of the project overall and for elements of the project, processes need to be established that review quality assurance. Finally, the project manager needs to ensure that risk management policies and procedures are in place and followed throughout the project to identify, monitor and respond to risk events if they occur.

The final stages of construction project also require careful management, particularly by communicating with stakeholders on completion, and reporting on the objectives being met successfully. The project manager needs to ensure all elements of the project have been completed, and that the client is given any support needed when taking ownership of the construction, as well as any operational arrangements that are required. There also needs to be a final report to be completed and communicated to the stakeholders, including any relevant documentation, and any areas for improvement in future projects or newly acquired skills should be reported to the organisation's quality management process.

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Subsequently, this report analysed the case study of Terminal 5 at Heathrow Airport, which is considered a successful project, as it was completed on time, within budget and met the quality standards expected by the client, BAA. This exercise was valuable as the case study demonstrated how the project adopted methods recommended by previous research, despite being unique as the largest construction project in Europe at the time. Therefore, this example is useful for approaches to other construction projects.

Finally, this report was required to suggest methods that could be adopted for a construction project that should achieve its successful completion and to avoid any element failing to meet requirements. I believe that the details of these methods demonstrate my capability and skills as an experienced project manager, who is able to meet the requirements of the client effectively.