The Modern Project Management Era Construction Essay

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Project management has been exciting for a long time. The modern project management era started in the 1950s. It was a combination of different subjects like construction, engineering, and defense. Before the 1950s, there were two methods to manage projects. First of all, the Gantt chart method was used as a project management tool. The second, Work Breakdown Structure was used for regulating work and managing activities. Around that time, Booz-Allen and Hamilton developed mathematical way for scheduling a project, which was the Program Evaluation and Review Technique. In addition, DuPont Corporation and Remington Rand Corporation developed the Critical Path Method to reduce maintenance time in the project. In 1969, the project management institute appeared to teach the tools and techniques of project management. Finally, there is an organization that assists the development of an ISO project management standard (Civil Engineer Link) 15/8/2010.

Construction has been around since the human being because in the past people looked for caves or built small rooms to live in and to protect themselves. It has developed over the ages and become a great job source and specialty for some people. The increase in the number of people has led to need for more constructed facilities that must cope with requirements such as bridges and dams. Therefore, modern building becomes more complex and immense because it requires several parties to implement the construction like stakeholders, consultants, designers, contractors and suppliers of materials. This makes the project a big challenge to execute. Lewis (2007) states that the problem has a negative meaning and the project has both positive and negative aspects, which is why there are so many people required to solve the problems. Therefore, project management appears as a tool to provide a proper solution for planning to achieve standards and specifications for reaching the estimated cost and time. In any project, the project manager should define the goals before starting their execution and follow them to achieve the objective. As a result, project management is defined as the tools and skills to provide a group of processes or/and activities based on a specific time, which means there is start time and deadline to produce a product without increasing the estimated cost.

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Project Management

To obtain project success, it is necessary to follow and focus on three main constraints; cost, time schedule, and scope, in order to conserve the quality of a product. The project manager should maintain a balance between the main constraints and keep them as a reference for any changes or introducing any new element into the project. Focusing on one constraint will negatively affect the others for example, concentrating on time, and attempting to finish early, will cost more than usual and will reduce the scope of the work, which in turn will cause lower quality. When creating a schedule, the project manager needs to estimate the proper time for each part of the project by using the Breakdown Structure method or any professional computer program. In this process, the manger should regulate the time input depending on the important items of the project and which one follows the other. In project management, the main source for money is the budget form stakeholder or the owner. The project manager organizes the budget for two main things: direct costs, like tools, labor rates and costs in risk, and indirect costs for unexpected occurrences that might affect the project. Finally, the scope is the specific requirements that are necessary to fulfill in order to achieve the objective.

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One of the main management concepts relevant to the construction industry to improve important demands like quality and cost control is value management, helping to achieve successful project. Most of the people do not know the difference between cost and value. The meaning of cost is the money that people have to pay for something. However, the definition of value is how much something is worth compared with its price. Therefore, the exact meaning of value management is to produce the same product with the same performance at a lower price. It was developed in the United States during World War II and was the first used by Miles who worked for the General Electric Company. He began to search for an alternative product component which achieved cheaper products without reducing quality. Value management was only used in the manufacturing sector until 1970s. Then, around that time it started to be used in construction projects. The UK was the first country that used value management in the construction industry.

The system of value management related to function analysis is divided into three stages. First of all, function definition which means to understand every point in the project by defining the whole project then defining the spaces within the project as well as the elements and components. The ideal time for function definition is before any design which is based on the requirements of the customer and/or user. The second stage is function evaluation which is evaluation based on the lowest cost to achieve the requirements. The final stage is to generate alternatives by using suggestion and creating ideas that meet the function. Therefore, brainstorming is often used to assist in the generation of alternatives. To sum up, value management is one of the main management concepts. It is used to produce alternative products without reducing quality.

Problems and Solutions

Constructing a drainage water pump station near the sea cost

The site was not selected based on technical studies. The pump station had to be constructed on that specific site due to other economic and agricultural constraints, so the project manager did not have options to select a different site for the project. However, at the time of project execution two main problems were discovered. The first, the soil conditions at the site were not appropriate because some kind of problematic soil known as limestone exists there. This type of soil requires special treatment when constructing the foundations of the pump station. The second, due to the near sea coast, the groundwater level is too high and the sea water is too salty which would attack the reinforced concrete structure causing severe damage. Therefore, a long term protection system would have to be permanently constructed around the pump station to protect against the harmful effects of the sea.

There were two suggestions to treat the soil. First of all, using special treatment of the soil would require more money than similar structures on other sites with more appropriate soil conditions. The other alternative suggestion would have been to remove all the problematic soil layers and replace them with more stable soil layers. Moreover, several systems to protect reinforced concrete structures were studied and the one selected consisted of boxed-section sheet pile walls that surround the station with deep embedment to avoid seepage of sea water to the station site. This protection system was too expensive but at the same time it was necessary. Another alternative for the protection system was to construct a small special dam in front of the pump station to prevent the sea water seepage, which would be probably less expensive, but the dam would require hard work on regular basis. Therefore the first alternative was selected for the protection of the pump station.

Constructing a petrochemical factory

The problem is the soil layers at the site are swelling soil and extended for quite a large depth which makes the foundation exposed to differential settlement. The factory contains a large network of pipes, which are very sensitive for any settlement that may occur during the execution process, especially differential settlement.

There are three alternative solutions. The first alternative is to clean the swelling soil from the site and replace it with better soil, which would cost a lot of money. The second suggestion for the alternative design is to use special foundation system that is able to absorb the soil swelling which also require more funds than usual. The third option is to construct a temporary structure such as earth embankment, in order to improve the settlement characteristics of the soil then remove it and start constructing the definite structure for the petrochemical factory. The third alternative was selected, it was the most appropriate one from the economic as well as the engineering point of view.

Constructing a school

The site was selected based on social studies. The school had to be constructed on this site at this particular neighborhood to be ready on-time for the beginning of the new school year. This school was part of the Ministry of Education developmental plans for this neighborhood and the surrounding areas. The problem in this project was that the site ground level was at lower than the surrounding roads, thus causing rainwater and any other water would be collect at the site. The project manager did not have the option of selecting a different site for the project. Moreover, any delay in the project would lead to delay opening the school for at least one year.

There were two appropriate solutions to solve this management problem. The first solution was to renegotiate with the stakeholders, in the initiating process, about changing the project site or extending the project execution period. This solution was not suitable because the stakeholder was a governmental organization which usually takes long time to make a decision and to find another site for the project. The second solution was to raise the site ground level to a higher level than the surrounding roads by using several layers of appropriate soil. This reclamation process was a good solution but would cause air pollution in the surrounding areas due to the process of soil transfer in this site. The project problem was solved by selecting the second solution with increasing working hours for the workers in the site in order to meet the deadline for the project execution. The project manager was decided that the air pollution was temporary and simply risk.

Constructing a college

Most of the execution of the project was going on time except a certain item which would cause delay in the project execution time. Supplying some of the engineering materials, porcelain floor tiles, was not completed at the project site on time. The supplier sent only half of the required quantity and was expected to be late in delivering the rest of the quantity. The problem came up due to selecting a weak supplier did not have enough resources to cover the project needs. The problem would cause the floor covering workers to stoop working. Moreover, according to project schedule, there were several other activities that depend on finishing the floor covering tiles, which means more delay in execution time.

The first step to solving this problem was taken by the project manager. The manager had a quick meeting with the stakeholders and the project consultant in order to discuss about the appropriate solutions. Then, the project manager offered the two alternatives; the first one was to change the specifications of the porcelain floor tiles so that the supplier can deliver the entire project quantity. This solution would require removing the previously installed tiles and thus more funds have to be spent. The second alternative was to replace the tiles supplier with a different more stable one who can provide the entire quantity. Naturally, with this alternative, some kind of administrative steps have to be taken to select the new floor tile supplier. After making the necessary financial and execution time comparison between the two alternatives, it was decided to select the second alternative.

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