The Purpose Of Project Management Construction Essay

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Project Management can be defined as "The Planning, control and co-ordination of a project from conception to completion (including commission) on behalf of the client. It is concerned with the identification of the client's objective in terms of utility, function, quality, time and cost, and the establishment of relationships between resources. The integration, monitoring and control of the contributors to the project and their output, and the evaluation and selection of alternatives in pursuit of the client's satisfaction with the project outcome are fundamental aspects of construction project management".

The work of firms in the construction industry and its professions presents two types of management issue: the problem of managing firms and that of managing projects. This leads to a rather complex kind of matrix structure. Normally there will be different mixes of professional practices, general contractors and subcontractors on each project. Even if the practices are the same, by using competitive tendering it is very unlikely that the general contractor and subcontractors will remain the same. Construction projects are therefore undertaken by an amalgam of firms, which change from project to project. The firms involved in each project are independent companies, which are organisationally interdependent in terms of the project. This situation creates potential for conflict between the needs of each firm and of each project. Each firm has objectives which are expressed in terms concerned with the efficiency of the firm, such as:

Increasing productivity

Improving service

Maintain existing clients

Attracting new business

The major purpose is to improve effectiveness and hence service and profits. The objectives of the project management, which ideally should also be the objectives of the firms involved in the project are, as has been said, the objective of the client. These will relate directly to the project and will be:

Functional satisfaction

Aesthetic satisfaction

Completion on time

Completion without budget

Value for money

As mentioned above there is a large number of firms involved n the construction process. These firms are usually independent units which are interdependent in terms of the work they undertake - the design and production of construction work. At any given time a person can find himself involved in a variety of situations as it is not unusual for someone to be working on a number of projects simultaneously.

"Project management is the management of the contribution to the project who will be from different firms expect where they are totally 'in-house' to the clients organisation. The sole objective is the satisfactory completion of the project on behalf of the client". Dedication to the project should enhance a firm's reputation, and dedication to firms should enhance profit in the short run. If this is not achievable, a trade-off between them takes place to the detriment. Such a situation demands sensitive and skilful management if both reputation and profit are to be optimised and if the staff are to be motivated and retain job satisfaction. Staff should be seen to be rewarded for achieving the appropriate balance.

The complexity of project management structures raises the issue of how best the project team should be integrated with the client's organisation. The two ends of the spectrum are illustrated by, at one end, the project manager or other leader of the project team as the only point of contact between the team and the client, with all instructions and advice being passed through this channel. At the other end, all the members of the project team have direct access to the client and in this arrangement the leader of the project team co-ordinates the instructions and advice given. Either of these alternatives is likely to be unsatisfactory in most cases and the appropriate integrating mechanism will probably lie somewhere between. The design of the mechanism will be dependent to a large degree on the amount of authority delegated by the client to the manager of the project team. Where substantial authority is delegated, most of the contact between the client and the project team is likely to be directly with the manager of the project team acting as the surrogate client. In such cases, for aspects for which the manager of the team does not have authority to act, the client may well prefer the leader of the project team alone to present recommendations to him. Alternatively, the client may require the project team manager to make recommendations for his decision, so that the client can discuss them with the whole group.

Where there is direct access by team members to the client, the team manager will need to ensure that the client receives a balanced view and that decisions are made in the light of all factors affecting the project, rather than a result of the statements of the strongest personality in the team. For example, some construction companies do not have a formal detailed brief. The detailed brief emerges through the architect placing a series of sketch designs before the client, which are amended or rejected. The 'brief' therefore proceeds incrementally until the client 'sees what he requires' on the drawings. In such a process it is essential that the other members of the team be present and involved. Otherwise important elements, such as cost and time constraints and certain significant elements of design may be ignored through concentrating upon other aspects. However, the project team manger can influence most clients and should ensure that whatever is devised is clearly laid down and understood by everyone involved, particularly the client.

Projects are directed at achieving specific results - that is, they are goal orientated. These goals drive the project, and all planning and implementation efforts are undertaken so as to achieve them. The fact that projects are goal orientated carries with it enormous implications for their management. For one thing it suggests that an important feature of managing projects is to identify relevant goals, starting at the highest level and then working down to grassroots. It also suggests that a project can be viewed as the pursuit of carefully chosen goals and that progress on the project entails achieving ever higher levels of goals, until finally we have attained the ultimate goal.

Mastery of planning tools is extremely helpful in managing projects, but even an expert with good tools cannot create the prefect plan. Planning entails the future, and dealing with the future means dealing with the uncertainty. A fundamental reality of planning, then, is that it involves uncertainty, which means that even the very best plans are estimates, mere approximations of what the future may hold.

Work Breakdown Structure

The work breakdown structure (WBS) is a top - down view of the project that shows how the pieces of the project fit together.

When people begin scheduling a project, the first thing they often do is to generate a list of all the tasks that will be included. First, they take a big picture view of the project and list the major phases that must be addressed. Then they begin adding detail to each phase, they later add detail to detail. Typically then the project schedule takes form in a top - down fashion, staring with the big picture and working down to the minute. (See figure 1.1)

(Fig 1.1)

Gantt chart

Often, the most popular and most usable way to present project information is to use a Gantt chart. "A Gantt chart is a project chart that shows tasks and schedules. It may show task durations and resources". The Gantt is useful to show status and provide a static view of the project at one time, but it has its limitations. As seen in (figure 1.2) except for the numbering system for the tasks, there is no discernable way to determine how tasks interrelate.

(Fig 1.2)

Precedence Diagram Method Schedule Network

Although Gantt charts portray the start and finish dates for tasks, they do not show the project wide consequences of schedule changes on a specific task. This is, they look at tasks as if they were independent activities and do not take into the account their interconnected nature.

The first step in building a PDM network is to create a task WBS for the project. The next step is to create a special kind of flowchart form the information contained in the WBS. PDM networks incorporate scheduling information into a basic flowchart diagram. (See figure 1.3)

(Fig1.3)

One major responsibility of many project managers is developing and adhering to a budget from the project. Often they will be rated a success or failure as a project managers according to whether the project comes in under, on, or over budget. Over shooting the budget can have serious consequences for project managers and the organizations in which they work. Consider a project that is funded through a contract: a cost overrun may lead to a litigation, penalties, and financial losses for the performing organization. If the project is funded internally, an overrun may lead to a serious drain of scare organizational resources. In view of the importance of budgeting, it is not surprising that many organizations focus much of their management attention on that area. Consequently, many organizations have well-developed budgeting techniques that are custom made for the organization's particular environment and operating style.

"The Project Execution Plan (PEP) is a document which acts as a primary manner by which the Project is planned, monitored and managed. It assists the management in ensuring the effectiveness and control of their day to day functions. It should be noted that the Project Execution Plan is a dynamic document, and so for it to serve as a communication tool, it has to be kept updated as the project progresses through its design stages". To meet the particular state of affairs of a project, the Project Execution Plan needs to be modified accordingly. However, a typical PEP should include plans pertaining to the project as a whole; product purchasing, product development and risk management. To make sure that everyone understands and carries out their responsibilities, the Project Execution Plan should clearly define the roles, responsibilities and authorities. It should set out the mechanisms and procedures concerning the quality and reporting. Finally, the PEP should cover the major schedules and budgets of the project and resources applicable to it. An effective Project Execution Plan brings with it various benefits for the project.

Project Managers who manage new implementations use project plans to document the project's tasks, the responsibility for each task and associated target dates and task dependencies on each other.

Using an effective project implementation plan is essential to be an effective project manager. The project plan stands as the single most important documentation of the milestones and key aspects of the project.

Effective planning and control are necessary for project success. It is difficult to visualize how the project can achieve its goals if the project team has not done a good job planning schedules, budgets, resource requirements, and technical implementations and the does not carefully monitor the work effort as the project is actually executed. All though good planning and control will not ensure project success, their absence will certainly guarantee some degree of failure. Projects are carried out through teams, but these teams are typically fragmented and poorly defined owing to the exigencies of matrix management. It is not enough simply to select an appropriate team structure; however team members must be encouraged to identify with the team, develop team spirit, and do whatever is necessary to make the project succeed.

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