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Project management in construction

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Published: Mon, 06 Mar 2017

Brief 199803

The role of the Project Manager amongst other things may be that of the ‘partnering facilitator’ as identified in various literatures and by authors such as, but not limited to Latham and Egan etc. Highlight a theoretical but practical role for the project manager as a partnering facilitator. 

 Outlined below is a discussion and an examination of the notion that the role of the Project Manager amongst other things may be that of the partnering facilitator which enables projects to be carried out efficiently. The notion that the Project Manager amongst other things could fulfil the role of the partnering facilitator has been identified as well as being developed further in the literature of Latham and also Egan, besides others. Authors such as Latham and Egan regarded that the fulfilling of the part of being a partnering facilitator as one of the main functions of any successful Project Manager, but of course not the only one. As part of the evaluation of the role played by Project Managers, the potential role of being a partnering facilitator will highlight a theoretical but practical role for any Project Manager to carry out whilst acting as a partnering facilitator. Project Managers have played and still continue to play important parts within the public and private sectors of the British economy. However, for the purpose of this evaluation the theoretical, yet practical role that would allow any Project Manager to act as a partnering facilitator are considered within the confines of the construction industry in the United Kingdom. It should also be remembered that the ideas relating to the concepts were actually originally developed by engineers in the United States before being widely adapted by businesses and academics alike (Deeprose, 2001 p. 3).

The construction industry within the United Kingdom would upon both a theoretical as well as a practical basis provide plenty of scope for a Project Manager to fulfil or serve the role of a partnering facilitator during the course of carrying out their job. The reasons for the construction industry offering opportunities for Project Managers to be able to act out a role of being a partnering facilitator are strongly related to the nature of that industry within Britain itself. Construction firms exist to develop, plan, deliver, and finally complete building projects, Project Managers are also trained to think and function in a similar way (Deeprose, 2001 p. 18). The Project Manager thus arguably has a vital linking and organising function or purpose contained within the core responsibilities of their job, which in itself is pivotal for the efficient running of the construction industry in Britain. Any or every construction project needs to be managed effectively, and well organised in order for it to be completed on time and within budget, a requirement that the use of a Project Manager is intended to fulfil. Even if only one company was formally engaged in completing a construction project a high degree co-ordination and organisation would still be required to make sure the efficiency of the organisation remains consistently high as well as being successful. A single company will have various stakeholders with different concepts of what needs to be done to successful complete. The more companies which are involved in a proposed project means a higher number of stakeholders need to enter working partnerships (Briner, Hastings, & Geddes, 1996 pp. 10-12). In reality, construction projects normally have several contractors, sub-contractors and suppliers involved in the whole process, which further increases the need for co-ordination and sound organisation. The Project Manager is therefore ideally placed to carry out the necessary co-ordination and organisation to achieve the full completion of the project (Deeprose, 2001 p. 3).

Latham and Egan, amongst others, have contended that the level of co-ordination and organisation that Project Manager have to use to get their jobs done with the British construction industry could justify the tag of partnering facilitator. Deeprose has argued that the operating methods of Project Managers and companies are very similar, which helps to explain why Project Managers are very useful in running construction programmes (Deeprose, 2001 p. 18). In theoretical and practical terms, the Project Manager needs to work in partnerships whilst facilitating the means to ensure that all are programmes are carried out. One way of exploring whether the Project Manager could theoretically and practically act as a partnering facilitator would be to look into how a project to build a housing development could actually be managed. To be able to complete a housing construction programme theoretically and indeed practically involves a great deal of partnership to move from initial planning and designing, through to finding contractors or suppliers, gaining planning permission, then finally construction. Even after construction has been finished partnerships could still be needed to make sure that the required standards are met, and to achieve the highest quality houses. Young argues that the key to the successful completion of any construction project is for it to be well designed with all the people that need to make the decisions having access to all relevant information (Young, 1996 p. 21).

The Project Manager needs to form a partnership with the architects that design the building that make up the housing construction programme, and both need to discuss the exact specifications and materials required to make the project achievable (Young, 1996 p. 45). These architects could either work for the same company as the Project Manager or be employed by a different company if not a specialised architectural consultancy. Having a sound partnership with the architect would allow the Project Manager to examine whether the designs for the proposed housing programme are practical, are what the stakeholders actually requested, and also if they meet health and safety standards (Maylor, 1996 p. 47). Close consultation between the Project Manager and the architects will facilitate discussion with regard to the quality, as well as the practical feasibility of the housing being designed. Together the Project Manager in conjunction with the architects will draw up plans as to what will be needed in the houses to ensure that all features and facilities are installed as planned, and altered if needs be (Young, 1996 p.45).

Theoretically and practically for the successful finishing of a house building project the Project Manager needs to form a relationship with the Local Planning Authority to ensure that planning could be granted to allow building work to begin. Without planning permission the proposed housing construction will not be carried out (Deeprose, 2001 p. 18). A good relationship with the Local Planning Authority responsible for granting or not granting planning permission could be useful if the Project Manager needs to arrange for water, gas and electricity supplies have to be extended to the new houses after those have been finished (Young, 1996, p. 45). The Project Manager might even have to liase with the Local Planning Authority to arrange new roads or an extension of existing roads to the new houses. The Project Manger as the main facilitator between the company or the consortium they work for and the Local Planning Authority would have the task of sorting out any differences between the tow to make sure that planning permission is granted as quickly as possible. Partnership between the Project Manager and the Local Planning Authority should help to facilitate the successful completion of the proposed building of new houses (Maylor, 1996 p. 6).

Theoretically as well as practically the Project Manager would therefore need to facilitate a partnership between all the constructors, and sub-contractors, which are, actually needed to design, build and complete the new houses (Maylor, 1996 p. 47). New houses are completed through the combined efforts of contractors and sub-contractors, which have special skills and functions (Briner, Hastings, & Geddes, 1996 pp. 10-12). For instance, new houses will need electricians, gas fitters, plumbers, as well as plasterers to complete the infrastructure of every house being built. The Project Manager will be responsible for hiring all the contractors and sub-contractors, as well as any general labourers needed to finish the new houses (Deeprose, 2001 p. 3). The Project Manager would have to make sure that everybody or firm hired to complete the construction is capable of doing their jobs to satisfactory standards or have work done again by alternative contractors (Briner, Hastings, & Geddes, 1996 pp. 10-12). Not only will the Project Manager ensure that the contracted work is done effectively, they will have to action any complaints, needs or problems that the contractors, sub-contractors, and workers have with completing the new houses (Young, 1996 p 47). Health and safety is also an issue that the Project Manager has to consider. The Project Manager has a responsibility to make sure that everybody is safe upon the construction site. Hand in hand with making sure that workers are safe, the Project Manager would also have to ensure that all the work carried out on the new houses complies with all health and safety regulations (Briner, Hastings, & Geddes, 1996 pp. 10-12). Facilitating with all contractors, sub-contractors and workers not only maintain the partnership between them all, it also allows the new houses to be safe without anybody being hurt during their construction. For the Project Manager complying with health and safety standards will mean that the building process runs smoothly and reduces the risk of legal action being taken against the building consortium (Deeprose, 2001 p. 18).

Therefore, one way in which the function of any Project Manager as a partnering facilitator could be theoretically and practically demonstrated through the co-ordination and organisation needed to build new houses. The Project Manager could and indeed should play a pivotal role in partnering or linking all the elements needed to complete a new housing programme. The Project Manager has an essential part to play in ensuring that the parties involved in the construction of the new houses would work closely together to make sure that the building is completed successfully and to time. Without the Project Manager acting as a partnering facilitator it would arguably be more difficult to design, construct, and fully complete the new house building programme. The Project Manager co-ordinates and liases with the architects over the design as well as the features of the new houses before the plans are finalised and then submitted for planning permission. Then the Project Manager would thus usually have to approach the appropriate Local Planning Authority to gain planning permission and then amend the building proposals if that is required. Probably the most important partnering facilitating performed by the Project Manager would be co-ordinating, as well as organising all the contractors, sub-contractors and all workers needed to build and finish the new houses once planning permission has been granted. A good working partnership actively facilitated by the Project Manager should mean that the new houses are built up to a high standard as quickly, yet effectively as possible. The Project Manager will achieve the function of partnering facilitator most effectively by involving all the relevant stakeholders that are part of the construction project.

Briner W, Hastings C, & Geddes M, (1996) Project Leadership – 2nd edition, Gower, Aldershot

Deeprose D, (2001) Smart things to know about Managing Projects, Capstone Publishing Limited, Oxford

Maylor, 1996

Young T, (1996) The Handbook of Project Management, Kogan Page, London


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