You are working for a relatively inexperienced developer who wants to know if he should manage all the work he has lined up as separate stand-alone projects or employ a Programme Manager. He has asked you to prepare a specific briefing paper that highlights the merits and drawbacks for each option.
It is common to see a construction project failing to achieve its target to complete within the scheduled time in Hong Kong. We can see it is not easy to have a successful project programme management. As an inexperience developer, they will find the following benefits by employing a programme manager instead of standing alone.
There are three elemental parameters to determine a successful construction project – time, cost and quality. Each parameter is mainly managed by different professionals as an overall management structure. For example, project cost is controlled by quantity surveyors and quality is certified by architects or engineers. For construction time, programme manager plays an important role. Professionals could be identified through their membership of their own professional bodies, like the Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB). The chartership denotes the importance of professional of construction management with accredited academic qualification and professional training with solid working experience. Continuous professional development is also required to ensure they are up-to-date with the industry development and new technology. They have a unique and influential position at the heart of construction management. The role of programme manager is not able to be replaced by the other professionals in construction industry, not to mention by an inexperienced party as a project lead.
Construction planning documentation can take the form of a project policy to establish a programme to plan the work needed on a weekly or daily basis to meet the final contract completion date. As a programme manager, he/ she is familiar with the following items to produce a master prgramme.
With their rich experience, programme manager can help to consolidate the above information in pieces to an organized and realistic project plan that help establish clear activates breakdowns for future control and meanwhile, enhance the efficiency of project with respect to cost and time.
During the process of a construction project, there are many problems every day and every week. As a programme manager, to have an effective control on the overall programme, they always look at the critical path, on which delay of each activity laying will lead to an ultimate delay of the whole project. Programme manager will make use their solid experience to find out the critical path. Therefore, with the help of programme manager, we can have the greatest profit under limited human resource instead of putting unlimited human resource to closely manage all matters in a project.
Documentation record is also a strategy of control. Programme manager can help to establish a system to record the construction progress, meanwhile, to ensure the progress is under control. The records included the work done, with the start and finish dates, the number of labor involved and material on site. With their rich experience, programme manager give guidance to have effective records that are systemic to be easily understood, retrieved and reported.
There are many parties involved in a construction project, such as client, architect, main contractors, consultants and the government or local authority. Inexperienced client does not have enough knowledge to react with the implication of any design decision. For example, when there is change of size of stone cladding from small size 600 x 600mm to 1200m x 600mm, thicker stone slab is needed to avoid breakage during installation. However, this change may affect the installation of windows. On the other hand, with the increase of slab thickness, the overall thickness of cladding may exceed 90mm so that the thickness of wall cladding is required to be included in GFA calculation, which is not expected by architect in the original design. Each party only cares about their own related parts. Programme manager is an important bridge of communication to ensure all parties are on the right way towards a common goal to achieve stakeholder’s satisfaction.
However, there are also drawbacks to invite a programme manager. First of all, the cost to hire a programme manager is high. Together with the staff benefits and insurance, it is a cost burden to the overall performance of project profit. Moreover, there is also a risk to employ an incapable programme manager. A capable programme manager should have rich technical knowledge and strong leadership to manage a team. However, it is not easy to find one with both abilities.
On the contrary, if client chooses to work on their own in a construction without a programme manager, they can save the cost from hiring a programme manager, however they cannot enjoy the benefits listed in previous paragraphs, which lead to higher risk of project delay and profit loss. Therefore, by considering the pros and cons of both sides, I would recoomend client to employ a programme manager as a project leader.
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