Tag Archives: Building Management

Scope for improvement 4 pt2

Scope-for-Improvement-2014This post is my second discussing Ashurst Lawyers fourth report in the ‘Scope for Improvement’series looking at the management and delivery of mega projects in Australia; focused on the interlinked topics of productivity, innovation and training (read the first post).

This ‘Scope for Improvement’ report identified productivity and skills shortages as a key problem for the sector but failed to offer any real options for improvement.  The report also acknowledged productivity in Australia is significantly worse than many other developed economies, and whilst skills shortages are less of an issue now that the demand in the resources sector has returned to more normal levels, many participants expect it will again become a major issue in the near future. Some of the more significant observations from the report (with my thoughts in italics) are:

  • Major inhibitors are the heavily regulated labour market and restrictive work practices. This is a management failing, enterprise bargaining has been part of the Australian industrial system for nearly a decade.
  • Inadequate or insufficient training, and lack of experience, particularly in project and risk management of large projects, have been evident. . This is another management failing, skills don’t magically develop in ‘the market’ organisations need to invest in training.
  • There is a generational shift in talent and experience at project director level. Developing ‘young talent’ needs career planning – largely ignored in the construction sector.
  • There is not enough talent in the market to adequately cover the step shift in project scale (typically up from $800 million to $2billion) that occurred in the mid-2000s. Long term skills development has been largely ignored in this sector.

More depressing, was the complete absence of any meaningful discussion on BIM – Building Information Modelling.  BIM is now mainstream in the UK construction industry and gathering pace in the USA, China, Europe and many other countries (many of which have contracting footholds in the Australian market).

The reason the rest of the world is focusing on BIM is productivity and profit.  BIM reduces risk, increases efficiency and substantially reduces cost. BIM has a similar enabling capacity to EFPOST in the retail industry. The development of fully integrated data, driving efficiencies right through the supply chain – with EFTPOS, the suppliers know how many stock items have been sold today to arrange restocking overnight; JIT with a vengeance. BIM offers similar opportunities to radically reform and update the construction industry and drag it from its medieval craft roots into the modern era.

Implementing BIM will be a cultural revolution in the Australian context, making the optimum use of BIM will require skilled staff working as permanent members of the construction business’ supply chain. Successfully implementing BIM will require investment, training, staff development and a major shift in workforce management and supply chain management. The challenge facing Australian companies in all parts of the industry is to either catch up with their global competitors or face extinction.

The problem is a unlike the UK, there is no government leadership and we do not have the market size that allows innovative investments in Europe, China and North America. Solving this conundrum is where the real ‘scope for improvement’ lies.

To understand more about BIM and access a wide range fo free resources (mainly from the UK) see: http://www.mosaicprojects.com.au/WhitePapers/WP1082_BIM_Levels.pdf

The Scope for Improvement reports can be downloaded from: http://www.ashurst.com/publication-item.aspx?id_Content=10561&langId=1

Construction Management -v- Project Management

The Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB) has for many years seen its role as the leader in construction management. The current challenge is to define and differentiate construction management from project management and from the role of an on-site construction manager.

I have been in the UK for the last couple of weeks and was at the CIOB Member’s Forum where this topic was discussed at length. My feeling is construction management has a very wide remit that underpins all phases of a built assets lifecycle from feasibility through to demolition and disposal.

My starting point is the presumption that construction management involves the application of construction knowledge to achieve the efficient creation, maintenance or changing of a built asset. Where a built asset, or the built environment, is a very wide definition that covers all man made structures from canals, roads and railways to any structure or enclosure.

As suggested by the diagram below, the application of construction knowledge through construction management has a very wide application. Whereas project management is focused on the efficient creation of a new product, service or result. Project management has a much wider remit than simply building. Any significant change can and should be managed as a project from the creation of a new software program to the reorganisation of a business’s processes.

The primary role of traditional project management in the construction industry (as indicated in the diagram below) is managing the site based construction activities from initiation through to closure. However, it is quite feasible for projects to be initiated at any phase of the built assets lifecycle to initiate a ‘change’ (eg, a maintenance project to upgrade the facility). Also, if multiple projects are involved such as building the 2012 Olympics, program management can be used to advantage.

If the ideas outlined above hold true, project management is the process of delivering a change, whereas construction management is the underpinning skill set used by a range of specific disciplines, including project management, as the built asset evolves from an idea to a design, to built structure, to a maintained facility through to its final demolition or recycling. It’s the knowledge of good construction practice that allows the surveyors and designers to create a cost effective design that is durable, buildable and maintainable; and similar knowledge is needed by facilities managers to look after the structure through its operational life. As suggested above, construction management is the effective application of construction knowledge to a proposed or actual built asset.

Based on these thoughts, a working definition for construction management could be: The effective application of construction knowledge to all aspects of the creation and care of the built environment to the benefit of society.

The lead discipline will change from Architects and cost engineers to construction companies and project managers to facilities managers depending on the phase in the built asset’s life, but each discipline also needs to understand and apply effective construction management to undertake their work practically and effectively.

What are your thoughts???