• Saturday, July 13, 2024
businessday logo

BusinessDay

Project management, controls, cost engineering and quantity surveying (3)

businessday-icon

While not used during the project controls execution process, data and information got from project controls periodic performance measurement reports lots of times prove very useful to project managers and his team in managing effectively these project management knowledge areas.

Project management 

A project, according to Project Management Institute (PMI), can be defined as a temporary endeavour undertaken to create a unique product, service or result. It is temporary in that it has a defined beginning and an end in time, scope and resources. A project is unique as it is not a routine operation but a specific and distinct range of work to be performed and designed to accomplish a singular or a set of objectives. Let me add that the above definition is not sacrosanct as it might be defined differently in some other parts of the world. In a layman’s language, it is a big task comprising many smaller tasks or work packages that must be done within a timeframe or deadline and leading to a milestone.

Project/programme management can then be described as the application of knowledge, skills, tools and techniques to achieve set project goals and objectives. Project management has always been in existence albeit informally but it has only just been practised as a distinct profession since the mid 1940s and early 1950s.

There is a universal set of five processes that projects in every industry have to go through for them to have been deemed to be successfully completed. The five processes are as follows: initiating; planning; executing; monitoring/control; closing. How these processes are followed and used can be different from industry to industry. What obtains in the manufacturing industry might be different from the construction or the aviation industry.

The notion that the concept of project management is unnecessary and dispensable is very prevalent in the Nigerian business and government landscape. This might be due to the fact that not much is known about its importance and advantages or that a lot of company executives and senior government officials are used to the unregulated and uncontrolled approaches to implementing programmes and individual projects. Project management is seen as an arduous task of meandering through needless loops and layers within an organisation on the way to successful execution of projects. This thinking is short-sighted and has led to numerous abandoned, uncompleted and failed projects culminating in avoidable loss and wastage of funds and scarce resources.

The worth and importance of the art and science of project management to an organisation’s strategic goals cannot be over-emphasised. Very stiff global competition amongst businesses and government agencies worldwide has made it imperative for these organisations to turn to project management principles in order to have an edge and consistently achieve outstanding results and meet business goals. Moreover, enterprises are continually re-engineering their business portfolios trying to link all that they do to their strategic missions and objectives. These activities include analysing, standardising and improving business and work processes. Also there is need to avoid spending funds that will not guarantee desired returns on investment due to poor project planning, execution, monitoring and control.

Poor project management practices can have disastrous consequences and will surely derail an otherwise carefully thought-out business process. Project failures can be avoided by proper planning and putting into practice metrics and standards established at the top management/portfolio level. Having a PMO in place, as well as senior management buy-in and support, is very essential for the practice of disciplined project management in an organisation. Bureaucratic bottlenecks and delays are reduced to the minimum resulting in projects being finished on time, budget and within scope. Also change management procedures are done much faster. Project management practice is also very important to today’s modern economy because it integrates business processes, systems and organisations. Change as the only constant thing can be effectively managed by a strong project management culture.

Cost engineering vs quantity surveying

Cost engineering and quantity surveying have similar and highly overlapping functions. Quantity surveying relates more to building design and construction, while cost engineering relates more to engineering, manufacturing, and IT projects and processes. However, cost engineers and quantity surveyors commonly work in both areas.

Cost engineering and quantity surveying differ primarily in the route taken to professional qualification and in the project controls area of managing projects. Without a project there will not be the need for project management. Project management overlaps project controls, quantity surveying and cost engineering in the project cost management area to a large degree but there are other project management functions that are needed to complete a project outside of what a project control consultant, cost engineer or quantity surveyor does. The services of all these professionals are very essential and they form an integral part of the functions of the project manager or project director.

Ayodele Akingbade