Expanding the scope of project management services

in the construction industry, to add value and reduce costs

 

FEATURED PAPER

By Alan Stretton, PhD (Hon)

Sydney, Australia

 


 

INTRODUCTION

In a recent issue of this journal (Stretton 2019b) I discussed project success levels in an organisational strategic management context. In the conclusion, I noted that one of the most striking things that emerged from those discussions was the comparatively low level of participation by project management (PM) in activities which establish success at those levels. This applied particularly in project initiation and earlier development stages – and mainly in production-based organisations.

In this article I want to discuss the potential for project management services to be expanded into such earlier activities, to add value and/or reduce costs.  The setting is the construction industry, and the perspective that of a project-based organisation providing project management services in this industry. I have chosen these because the range of services actually provided therein very often covers the management of the earlier phases of project development, and frequently goes even further back, to actively support customers’ organisational strategic planning. This suggests substantial potential for such expanded PM services in other industries.

We will start with the common Execution-Delivery perception of the scope of project management – whose practice in the construction industry generally takes the form of the “traditional” tender approach. We discuss some of the disadvantages of this approach, particularly the separation of design from construction. We then look at two approaches which were developed in the building and construction industries to help overcome the latter disadvantage – namely “Construction Management” and “Design-and-Construct” project management.

We then move on to look at expanding the PM scope into management of the early development stages of projects, including feasibility and project definition phases. Peter Morris has long used the descriptor “Management of Projects” to include these development stages – which I have also adopted. I go on to discuss how this developed in Civil & Civic, both internally, and as a service to external customers.

Finally, we discuss moving beyond projects per se to helping customers develop their organisational strategic objectives and/or plans to achieve them. We discuss how large EPC firms have been providing extensive strategic planning support services for a very long time, particularly in the context of major complex construction-related mega-projects. We also discuss Civil & Civic’s expansion of its services into strategic planning support, at more modest scale and complexity levels. In the light of the substantial scale of these types of services, it seems reasonable to ask if these are being, or could/should be, provided in other industries served by PM.

PROJECT PLANNING AND EXECUTION RELATED TO AN ORGANISATIONAL STRATEGIC MANAGEMENT FRAMEWORK

First, the reason for my relating project planning and execution to an organisational strategic management framework was foreshadowed by Shenhar & Dvir 2007:23:

Most projects are part of the strategic management of their organization, ….

Therefore, an organisational strategic framework appears to me to provide a context which is relevant to most projects, irrespective of their type, application area, etc.

In Figure 1 below a basic organisational strategic framework is shown in the heavily outlined section near the top. Whilst there is probably no universally agreed strategic framework, I have been developing this over some years in this journal, and the (admittedly rather meagre) feedback I have had indicates that it appears to cover a wide range of perceptions about the basic strategic processes involved.

It will be noted that the focus is on the planning and execution of strategic initiatives, which comprise both projects, as shown below the strategic framework, and other strategic initiatives, as briefly summarised above the framework. The latter were discussed in some detail in Stretton 2019a, and will not be further discussed in this article, which is concerned only with the project components of strategic initiatives.

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How to cite this paper: Stretton, A. (2019). Expanding the scope of project management services in the construction industry, to add value and reduce costs, PM World Journal, Volume VIII, Issue III (April).  Available online at https://pmworldlibrary.net/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/pmwj80-Apr2019-Stretton-expanding-scope-of-project-management-services-in-construction.pdf

 


 

About the Author

Alan Stretton, PhD (Hon)

Faculty Corps, University of Management
and Technology, Arlington, VA (USA)
Life Fellow, AIPM (Australia)

 

Alan Stretton is one of the pioneers of modern project management.  He is currently a member of the Faculty Corps for the University of Management & Technology (UMT), USA.  In 2006 he retired from a position as Adjunct Professor of Project Management in the Faculty of Design, Architecture and Building at the University of Technology, Sydney (UTS), Australia, which he joined in 1988 to develop and deliver a Master of Project Management program.   Prior to joining UTS, Mr. Stretton worked in the building and construction industries in Australia, New Zealand and the USA for some 38 years, which included the project management of construction, R&D, introduction of information and control systems, internal management education programs and organizational change projects.  He has degrees in Civil Engineering (BE, Tasmania) and Mathematics (MA, Oxford), and an honorary PhD in strategy, programme and project management (ESC, Lille, France).  Alan was Chairman of the Standards (PMBOK) Committee of the Project Management Institute (PMI®) from late 1989 to early 1992.  He held a similar position with the Australian Institute of Project Management (AIPM), and was elected a Life Fellow of AIPM in 1996.  He was a member of the Core Working Group in the development of the Australian National Competency Standards for Project Management.  He has published over 200 professional articles and papers.  Alan can be contacted at alanailene@bigpond.com.au.

To see more works by Alan Stretton, visit his author showcase in the PM World Library at http://pmworldlibrary.net/authors/alan-stretton/.